Dating Websites vs. Dating Apps: What is the Best Startup Idea?

Dating Websites vs. Dating Apps: What is the Best Startup Idea?

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

  • Although the concept of going on a date with a total stranger you met online is relatively new, online dating is now widely accepted around the world. In fact, a 2018 study by Statista showed that 12 per cent of 18-29 year-olds had met their current partner online. 
  • According to a 2020 Market Research report by IBIS World, the online dating sector in Australia has a market share of $121 million with average industry growth of 4.4% between 2015-2020. 
  • Entrepreneurs who want to tap into this market will need to decide whether to go down the route of dating websites or dating apps. In this article, we delve into the pros and cons of both options and address which online platform is more profitable for startups.

Dating sites and dating apps. Both of these ideas come with certain benefits and drawbacks for people that are looking to start a business. Yet, one of them has to be better, right?

By looking at several dimensions of what a dating site and app can offer, how they overlap and where they differ, we can determine that an online dating service is best offered through a website.

In this article, we will look at a comparative analysis of the positive and negative aspects of a startup business for adult dating sites versus apps.

As with any business idea, there are some positive and negative aspects of running an app or a website. The niche of online dating has some unique challenges that must also be addressed.

What are the benefits of creating an online dating website?                    

Dating websites have an “open door.” There is no need to get someone to buy the product to come and see what it’s all about. On the other hand, an app requires a download which is something that most people won’t do unless they’re sure about the product.

Dating websites have an easier time getting advertisements up on the site and getting viewers. Advertising also directly links to a website instead of having to ask permission to download.

Websites only require a single platform of development and are compatible with every type of phone out there today as opposed to apps.

A dating site gets the benefit of search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), which drives more organic traffic to your site and increases the reach of your advertisements.

There is a shorter funnel between the location of a website and the use of its products relative to apps.

Lastly, it's easier to make international versions of a website than an app.

What are the cons of creating an online dating website?      

An adult dating website will take a lot longer to build than an app. Websites also require constant upkeep to maintain a mobile outlook.

What are the pros of building a dating app?

Finding developers for apps is easier and less expensive and it's generally cheaper to build an app than develop a website.

Apps are more popular with the younger crowd, and younger people are becoming a greater number of users for online dating services. Apps also have the ability to “go viral” in terms of popularity.

Lastly, dating apps can focus intently on one specific kind of interaction that users often enjoy.

What are the cons of building a dating app?

Getting customers through the sales funnel is more difficult with an app. Money is primarily made through sales and it's more difficult to drive revenue through ads.

There is also a higher customer acquisition cost for apps than websites.

As anyone can clearly see, there are many positives and negatives that go into building a dating site or app for people involved in a startup.

What are the niche features for online dating services?

Another major issue that comes to light when developing a dating app or website is the niche features. When focusing on a dating site, people want the opportunity to find partners that are close by or in any number of locations around their state or territory.

Let’s take a look at eharmony as an example. This site has a lot of categories and all of them bring in a specific audience. As an example, we can look at the page focused on Latino dating. This gives us a great understanding of what users want and what they are focused on when they're searching.

While a website can truly diversify its pages to suit all kinds of needs, apps are a little narrower in their approach. While apps are not as versatile, they can still offer niche features like hookup dating but without the landing pages that can attract people from internet searches alone.

What is the target market for dating sites and apps?

The target market for dating sites and apps have some overlap. Realistically, apps are mainly developed for people that are young, willing to spend money on romance and looking for a very specific kind of date. If you take the example of Tinder, you can see that the website is predominantly geared towards people under the age of 30.

However, the problem that the app faces is that those aren’t the people that have the most expendable money to spend on a website. That’s why dating sites are the better option for a startup. They can have different pages on the same site network that will encourage adult dating among people that are in college, middle-aged and seniors. The wider target market of websites gives them a better chance to make money.

What is the cost of creating a dating website or app? 

The average startup cost per app is staggering but the running costs are lower. Simple apps can be $10,000 or less, moderate complexity can cost between $40,000 and 80,000 and complex apps for dating can cost over $150,000.

Dating apps are moderate most of the time because they have to include things like security, UX, UI, marketing, front and back end, etc. The rule of thumb on a running budget is 20% of the original costs, which isn’t much for a moderate app.

Website startup costs contain many of the aforementioned costs for apps and tend to include more copywriting, marketing, security, encryption and others. The average cost for a simple dating site is somewhere around $15,000. However, the running costs are higher and require between $10,000 and $12,000 per year.

Are dating websites more profitable than dating apps?

Who sees more of a share of the profits from their creation: dating apps or dating sites? It actually depends on a lot of situational data. A dating website has the benefit of being able to sell a service and advertise while selling that service through affiliate sites or such. That seems like it would spell success for profiting.

However, it’s important to weigh that against the costs of operating the site over the long term. Suffice it to say that a website has more potential to get a higher share of the profit, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Apps, on the other hand, are delivered and don’t have to deal with all the issues of hosting and upkeep. While they have a low running cost, making a profit on them is contingent on whatever deals are made with the developers for profit share, which is a popular form of compensation.

Furthermore, apps don’t always get as much of a cut from advertisers because their app is less likely to be downloaded than a website’s page is to be stumbled upon. In this case, dating sites are again a better option for ensuring a profit.  


When you get right down to it, building an online dating site or an app is going to be a lot of work for the people involved. While people have created successful startups with apps in the past and will continue to do so in the future, the fact is that they are the direct path to solving a customer’s problem of finding an adult dating match.

However, building an online dating site is a much more complex solution to a customer’s problem, and it’s one that can integrate any number of solutions from multiple languages, multiple revenue streams and many different means of advertisement.

Over the long term, it’s certainly better for startups to focus on generating a website than by going for an app alone.

Maria Biz

at Maria

Hi, my name is Maria Biz, and I am a private entrepreneur. I have my own blog, where I write articles on topics of interest to me. My small business related to the development of websites and applications for phones. I travel a lot in my free time. I love to learn and learn something new.