Here’s something I’ve always thought was ironic — dating apps, which are intended to help us meet people IRL, can sometimes cause us to spend more time on our phones. I often feel like I spend hours swiping, scrolling, and messaging people instead of going on actual dates, and I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. But the psychology behind Hinge's new design, which is all about human connection, according to a rep for the company, is such a refreshing solution to this problem. The app's visual refresh is designed to actually help us find love — who would have guessed?
Hinge’s slogan, “designed to be deleted,” highlights its commitment to helping users foster real relationships that transcend online flirtations. And now, as of April 9, it's going one step further by making the app feel less like a video game and more like an authentic platform for user interaction. With bright new illustrations, bold fonts, and subtler animations, the new interface is designed to help users embrace their unique personalities.
After all, a dating app shouldn’t make people want to spend more time on the app — the whole point is to get matches talking to each other and setting up real-life interactions. Meanwhile, competitors like Tinder are known for making apps feel like users are playing a game. Tinder co-founder Jonathan Badeen explained this in the 2018 HBO documentary Swiped: “It kinda works like a slot machine, where you’re excited to see who the next person is, or, hopefully, you’re excited to see, 'Did I get the match?’ and get that ‘It’s a Match’ screen? It’s a nice little rush." (Tinder's parent company, Match Group, acquired a 51 percent stake in Hinge earlier this year.)
Hinge, in contrast, wants no part in the gamification of dating. "On Hinge, there are no rules, timers, or games," the company said in its media alert. "Instead, you’ll meet your most compatible matches and you’ll have unique conversations over what you’ve shared on your detailed profile."
Though it might sound strange that Hinge's design tweaks can help you find love, even the simplest of visual changes can have a major impact on our psychology, says UX designer and cognitive researcher Maxim Leyzerovich. “The new illustrations, rounded corners, and more whimsical palette do make the design less serious or sterile,” he notes. Leyzerovich explains that dating apps can often be "cluttered both visually and with notifications about matches and messages," which stresses out our brains. "By designing experiences that are aesthetically calming, but also visually balanced and laid out, the inherent anxiety of using the app can be decreased," he says.
Visuals affect our interaction with the app, which thus changes our odds of finding success. Chances are, you’ve had a bit of a different experience on each dating app you’ve tried — partially because of how each one is designed. Chris Stegner, co-founder and CEO of the digital products agency Very Big Things, explains that from the moment we open an app, our experience is shaped by what we see. “Visuals will play a large role in determining which emotions are evoked from the users, what audiences identify with the app, which in turn affects the user interactions and content shared within the app,” he explains. “So visuals alone will create, make, or break conditions on an individual user’s experience of an app.”
According to Lucy Mort, Hinge's Director of Design, the redesign came about when the Hinge team decided they wanted visuals that complemented the brand slogan. “The colors and illustrations invoke a sense of optimism in a process that can often feel draining," she tells Elite Daily. "We want the warmth and spiritedness of the new design to motivate our members to get off the app and out on a date."
Another cool feature is the way the buttons and icons have been reworked. The “delete” button, formerly bright red, is now grey, so users won’t feel bad about deleting the app when they meet someone. After all, this is a good thing! And the “liking” and “matching” buttons now feature a subtle fading animation instead of a bouncing one, so it doesn’t feel like you’re hitting a new high score on a video game every time you make a connection.
The idea here is to help people find committed relationships in the sea of options apps have provided us with. Hinge’s founder Justin McLeod told Vogue UK earlier this month that he hopes Hinge will fight dating fatigue by injecting romance into the process again: “It’s true that there’s endless possibilities now, but that only makes it more romantic to commit,” he said. “It used to be that people got married by default. It’s actually really courageous to settle down in 2019, to choose a specific person and hold onto them.”
McLeod tells Elite Daily that he hopes to provide an alternative to the addictive content we see on our phones all day. (Did you know we spend more time in front of screens than we spend sleeping, according to communications regulator Ofcom?!) “Social media companies say they want to help us connect, but their bottom lines are determined by how much time we spend in their apps. As a result, they've gotten much better at tying us to our phones than to our friends,” he notes. “We've designed an app that will help our members use us less and delete us sooner. We think their success will lead to our success in the long run.” And so far, this idea is working — Hinge tells Elite Daily that users spend an average of only six minutes per day on the app.
This concept — the idea that technology can literally help us rely less on our technology — is what makes Hinge’s new look so unique. “App designers can foster human connections by putting humans as the center of the visual experience,” Leyzerovich says. “By softening its visuals up, Hinge has made its brand more approachable and the values it advertises to be more believable.”
Rather than encouraging you to sit and scroll all day, the new design makes IRL connections a top priority — thus (hopefully) helping users get off their phones and out real dates. Can I get a prayer hands emoji?