Hackernoon logoThis One UX Choice Makes Tinder Irresistible by@theomiller

This One UX Choice Makes Tinder Irresistible

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@theomillerTheo Miller

Great software has the power to change your life. Sometimes it’s love at first sight when you see a sexy landing page, or read a seductive value proposition, but that’s only the beginning.

Onboarding is like a courtship. If a product team disrespects their customers’ feelings at this stage of the relationship, the user experience will sour and there won’t be a second date.

In product design, the first kiss is when the user’s hard work pays off. I call it the celebration moment, and it’s critical.

From entering a witty bio to selecting the perfect profile pic, onboarding takes effort. So that first kiss has to be electrifying! A memorable celebration moment separates the products we love from the products we tolerate.

Online Dating Goes Mainstream

The market was ripe for disruption when Tinder came along, because the stigmas of Match.com and eHarmony were too great for singles in their 20’s. These sites were also launched before the iPhone and the rise of UX Design.

OKCupid moved things forward. It won acceptance by gamifying online dating. The copywriting was fresh. OKCupid spoke to you more like a friend, than a piece of software, when it would notify you about a match.

The risqué polls and inviting graphic design helped too, but it was the lightweight user experience of Tinder that popularized mobile dating apps.

Suddenly anyone with a smartphone, and a Facebook account, could upload a few photos through an API, make a couple cheeky jokes on their profile, and enter the brave new world of online dating in the real world.

Tinder lifted the burden of online dating and the stigma was soon to follow.

With so little setup, the bar for that celebration moment — that first kiss that lets customers know the product team cares— is low. Yet Tinder exploits the rare feeling of making a real match to perfection.

The entire app is themed in white, but the screen goes dark the moment you make a match. A large, white, stylized font exclaims, “It’s a match!”

Tinder’s celebration moment represents the core value proposition of the app. It captures the distinct thrill of meeting someone you like in real life.

Private Equity is Serious Business

Distinct thrills are the domain of dating apps, but what about celebration moments in enterprise software?

Since 2013, I’ve worked at the private equity management startup eShares. I’ve been a Product Designer there since pre-launch. We give companies a way to issue electronic securities (stock certificates, option grants, etc.) and track who owns what in their company.

Our customers work hard for their equity. In some cases, the potential for longterm upside is why they work at a startup. We took this into consideration when creating our signature celebration moment.

When the user accepts a security, the screen goes dark and a colorful confetti animation appears with the word “Congratulations!” in white.

Our users love this moment. I can’t take credit for it, it was our CEO’s idea, but the joy expressed in this moment is so contrary to the stodgy reputation of private equity, it’s disarming. Users tweet about it all the time.

There is an occasional detractor, which makes sense. This is serious business. It’s like cracking a joke, or going barefoot to a board meeting (which our CEO also does — we have a “no shoes policy” at eShares).

Some people appreciate the laid back vibe, some people do not.

A Moment Worth Sharing

You’ll notice a tasteful social share button during Tinder’s celebration moment. Of all the times to ask someone to promote an app, it’s after this first kiss.

Tinder also asks users to rate the app after a match is made. They are excellent at timing their asks.

When the idea of this post arose, I mocked up a social version of our confetti screen on eShares. I posted it in the random channel in our company Slack and the reaction was controversial.

While many loved it, others felt the presence of a social share button in our product would be tacky. Yet, if users share the moment on Twitter without us asking, maybe the reputation of private equity management is evolving.

Raising a Child

Onboarding a customer is like raising a child. Assume every choice they make will be wrong. It’s not their fault. Everything is just so damn new to them.

Like children, users need to be encouraged and rewarded when they do something well. Use the celebration moment to let users know you appreciate their effort.

More on This

Check out Kevin Hale’s lecture on How to Build Products Users Love. He’s a Managing Partner at Y-Combinator and co-founded Wufoo.

That whole video series with Sam Altman and Peter Thiel is phenomenal, but Kevin Hale’s impassioned take on the celebration moment stands out.


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