Dating Apps vs. Online Dating Sites

Helen Stetsenko
Helen Stetsenko
Tech Researcher and Writer

Dating applications that provide their service through mobile applications only usually have a website. Why? Does it make sense to create a website, or is creating mobile app versions for each popular platform enough? What should you start with when launching a new dating product on the market? Based on the industry's facts and statistics, let's investigate the dating apps vs. dating websites dilemma.

Table of contents

    Where Does the Traffic Come From?

    To make the right decision regarding the starting point for a dating service development, it makes sense to target the customers in two ways:

    • Hit their habitat
    • Meet their needs and preferences

    For the internet dating industry, both these criteria lie in how users tend to access the service. The key statistics for internet traffic show that more internet users prefer to surf the web from mobile. According to Oberlo’s report, In April 2021, 56.16% of the total online traffic came from mobile phones. 

    desktop vs. mobile vs. tablet market

    Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Tablet Market Share Worldwide (Source:

    Statcounter research shows slightly lower figures for mobile internet traffic, stating that in July 2021, mobile phone users generated 55.89% of traffic, and 2.74% came from tablets. So, the total traffic share from mobile devices is 58.63% versus 41.37% from desktop. One may feel the 17.26% difference is enough to arrive at a verdict in the dating apps vs websites case. However, mobile traffic includes surfing the web through the browser and exchanging data via mobile applications. The question is, how many of the 6+ billion smartphone users prefer spending time in the apps, specifically for online dating needs.

    As of 2020, 90% of mobile time is spent in applications, and only 10% is spent in the browser. Thus, at this point of statistical findings, the share of a dating app vs. dating site users is potentially equal. However, this proportion can significantly vary depending on the service category and the parameters of the target audience.

    How Do Users Prefer Accessing Dating Services?

    Comscore platform investigated how users spend time online, in what way they watch videos, shop and entertain online, etc. According to the company’s report, 85% of the digital audience prefers accessing dating apps mobile-only. 

    digital audience accessing app

    The Share of Digital Audience Accessing App Categories From Mobile (Source:

    It can be explained by multiple reasons, including:

    • Having a smartphone always on hand: it’s much easier and faster to check new messages or surf matches on the go.
    • Better privacy: very few people want to disclose their online dating activity on their desktop screens at work or home.
    • People use mobiles more. 9 of 10 internet users go online via a mobile device. Only 6 in 10 use desktops and laptops to access the world wide web.

    The final verdict is that online daters prefer using a mobile app to find matches and start a relationship. However, the preferred access method for most customers is not the only criterion that defines the choice between dating apps and websites. Get more insights on dating app revenue and usage statistics (2021) in our review.

    Cannot choose between dating app or website development? Let KeyUA experts evaluate your project goals and requirements to make the right choice.

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    Advantages of Launching a Dating Site

    Considering that mobile devices are the preferable way of accessing lifestyle and dating services online, you can launch a responsive website that can adapt to different screen sizes. Such a solution has a range of advantages when comparing a dating app vs website.

    dating website advantages

    What are the benefits of starting a dating website?


    Unlike mobile applications that work only on specific mobile platforms, a website can be accessed from any mobile device, desktop computer, or laptop. There is no need to download or install anything: any user connected to the internet can instantly access and start using a computer dating platform.

    No Need to Update

    Users don’t need to spend time installing new product versions. Websites are easier to update, make bug fixes and maintain than mobile apps. In addition, the process is effortless for users. They get instant access to new features after they are deployed.

    Cost Efficiency

    The development cost is a vital factor to consider. Launching an adaptive website is the way to make a dating service available for all existing platforms and devices within one single solution. The website development cost is significantly lower than creating separate versions for each mobile and desktop operating system. Moreover, there is no need to pay online app stores for selling your product.

    Disadvantages of Launching a Dating Website

    Each solution has its drawbacks, and there are significant disadvantages to websites to consider in the dating app vs website comparison.

    drawbacks of dating website

    What are the disadvantages of starting a dating website?

    Lower Operation Speed

    Mobile-friendly websites work slower than native apps. Of course, you can ignore this aspect in the case of simple projects with low data loads. However, for a dating platform with high data loads, tons of graphics, and interactive UI elements, the difference may be significant and disappointing for the end-user. Moreover, the speed highly depends on the internet connection speed and stability.

    Smaller Audience

    Applications are a more native and natural environment for mobile users. Today’s technologies like PWA (Progressive Web Application) make using websites on mobile screens more comfortable, yet 90% of mobile time is still spent on apps. That is why, if you launch an online dating site only, you’re risking having a significantly smaller audience that you can potentially reach within an app.

    Ad Blockers

    The second biggest revenue channel for online dating apps after paid subscriptions is display ads. According to Backlinko, more than 42% of internet users worldwide are using adblocking software to hide display ads on the web. There are also similar tools for mobile apps. However, they require more effort to be correctly installed and configured. Thus, they are much less prevalent among users and don't significantly impact this revenue channel.

    Dating App Advantages

    Native mobile applications are intended for specific mobile platforms like iOS or Android. A user downloads and installs it to their mobile devices from an app store. As a rule, apps imply faster and better user engagement than websites. Check our guide on how to create a dating app. It has the following advantages.

    benefits of dating apps

    Why should you start a dating app?

    Better Personalization

    Apps can provide users more personalized interactions based on their location, activity, behavior, and usage history. Apps are better in terms of tracking all these statistics and delivering personalized content and updates. For example, tracking the users’ location in real-time is essential to provide matches nearby and other geo-specific content.

    Better personalization leads to higher user engagement, conversions, and profit. In addition, customers reveal better loyalty to the service if treated as individuals with their specific preferences and interests.

    Making Use of Device-Specific Features

    A mobile dating app has access to a smartphone’s hardware-based capabilities like GPS, camera, accelerometer, contact list, etc. The features based on this enrich the user experience, bringing more fun and engagement for customers. They also simplify user flow in many cases. For example, online payments or authentication by facial recognition is much easier in a mobile app.


    A mobile app is a powerful channel to interact with customers. They offer richer functionality with options unavailable for websites. For instance, real-time video streaming or access to geolocation may be unavailable in a web version. While it is possible to implement most of these features in a web app, certain technology constraints and privacy concerns exist with different multimedia features.

    Working Offline

    Mobile applications store data locally in the device memory and use internet connectivity only for updating it. The most fundamental difference between dating apps and websites with similar functionalities is providing basic functionality in offline mode. For example, a user can check his message history, profile details, favorites, and other information even if the internet connection is temporarily off. However, they wouldn’t be able to download a website and log in to their account without internet connectivity.

    Advanced UI/UX Design

    When creating a website layout, designers are limited with browser-specific elements and functions like address bar, ‘back’ button, etc. There is no way to utilize various mobile gestures in full. Mobile apps can be designed using all innovative UI/UX capabilities of mobile platforms to let users perform faster and better.

    Better User Engagement

    If mobile users are your target customers (which is fair for any modern dating platform), beware that they spend 90% of their time in mobile apps.

    And most of these apps are games, social media services, and messengers. Online dating platforms are positioned as social media networks. They offer the same options to connect people for an e-relationship, communicate online, share media, stream videos, send likes, and participate in discussions. All of that customers prefer doing in the apps.

    Push Notifications

    The Airship 2021 Benchmark report shows that the opt-in rate for push notifications ranges from 49% to 95%, which is a highly favorable ratio for effective communication with customers. Having push notifications on, a user doesn't need to open the dating app to see if something interesting is happening on their account.

    And receiving a note that someone liked a profile, got a new match, or received a message makes a user go back into the app. This mechanism is vital for boosting user engagement and retention and therefore makes dating platform monetization more effective. Find out how to monetize a dating app using all available approaches.

    Dating App Disadvantages

    The drawbacks of launching a dating service within mobile apps are mainly related to financial and psychological matters.

    drawbacks of dating apps

    What are the disadvantages of running a dating app?

    Development and Deployment Costs

    Most dating apps are native: you need to develop a separate native version for each supported mobile platform. The cost of such a project is significantly higher than the budget required to build a website due to higher developers’ rates and longer development. Find out how much it costs to build a dating app.

    App stores take about 15-30% from in-app purchases and subscriptions. That is why some products sell subscriptions only through their websites, making mobile apps free to download and install.

    Installation Barrier

    Psychologically, many users don’t want to make an effort to access a service. Going to an app store, downloading, installing an application, signing up, and setting the profile is considered a long journey. Some just skip the process and prefer easy access through the website. However, that is more common with older age groups. Therefore, it should be considered if your cyber dating service is targeted at that group.

    Smartphone Screens are Not for Everyone

    Some users cannot perform activities on a small smartphone screen due to physical limitations or habitually prefer big desktop screens. Such people won’t become your customers if you represent your dating service as a mobile app only.

    Dating Apps or Websites: Which One to Start with?

    dating app vs dating website

    The right choice highly depends on your target audience and the set of features you’re planning to deliver to the market. Matching the more prominent consumer segment's requirements will help generate more conversions, which is the final purpose of any company product.

    The perfect scenario is to deliver a responsive, mobile-friendly website and mobile app to let users choose what is best for them. However, if you have to choose only one option to start with, here are a few tips to consider.

    Choosing a Dating App

    A dating app will be a better option for the following cases:

    • Highly personalized UI/UX: mobile apps have more capabilities to personalize content, notifications, user flows based on user activity, location, interests, and behavior.
    • Reliance on native smartphone functionalities. If HTML5 is not enough to implement all the features and you don’t find compromise alternatives, it would be reasonable to stick with mobile app development.
    • Your customers need offline mode: websites cannot work without internet connectivity, while mobile apps can.
    • Security is the key: Touch ID, Face ID, two-factor authentication work well for improving personal data security and privacy.

    Choosing a Website

    There are cases when going with the website is the right decision, such as:

    • If the screen size matters: a dating network for seniors should start its way on the market as a website. Older people prefer big screens for messaging and viewing media content.
    • Limited budget: if you want to launch a dating startup and have insufficient funds for mobile app development, starting with a web app MVP is an option. It will help attract money for further development.
    • Anonymous dating service. If your dating product doesn’t require personalization and dealing with sensitive personal information, a website can be a preferable solution.

    Final Thoughts

    There is no sure answer about whether dating apps or sites generally work better for a dating startup. The combination of target audience preferences, technological requirements, and budget limitations helps make the right decision. KeyUA marketing experts and custom software engineers are ready to help you make the best choice to meet your business goals. Feel free to present your dating project idea for a detailed evaluation and cost-effective implementation.

    Looking for an outsourcing partner for your dating startup? Hire the KeyUA team to bring your product to life.

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