Tinder CEO wants to use glanceable UI to create meaningful relationships

Back in high school, did you ever pass a note that said, “Will you go out with me,” followed by one checkbox for “yes” and another checkbox for “no.” That’s pretty much how popular mobile dating app Tinder works, via a super-simple glanceable UI. Tinder CEO Sean Rad explained the inspiration behind the app’s design at Gigaom’s Roadmap conference.

In developing the app, Rad thought back to when it seemed like matchmaking was at its simplest:

The answer lies… in this experience you have in high school or elementary school, which is, your friend comes and tells you that your crush also has a crush on you. And that moment of that double opt-in – you’re interested in her, she’s interested in you, and that signal has been exposed – creates this trust, and the strength that allows you to sort of go out there and pursue that relationship.

That’s also a great explanation of how Tinder works. It uses your phone’s GPS to locate you and show you other connected people nearby. If you see someone you like, all you have to do is swipe to the right. The app uses the aforementioned “double opt-in,” so if someone you like also swipes to the right, it will let you know that you’re both compatible.

Of course, you can also swipe to the left if you’re not interested in someone – the equivalent of ticking off the “no” checkbox on that note back in high school — but you never actually have to reject anyone outright.

“Tinder is all about capturing the signals that we give out on a daily basis,” Rad said. “Whether we’re walking down the street or we’re in a room, we’re sort of subconsciously looking at people and saying, ‘Yes, no, yes, no,’ but those signals are being thrown away. Our vision is to capture those signals and to make sense of them and to create new relationships based off of them.”

A glanceable UI is about creating something meaningful out of information processed in just a quick glance. Tinder does this by recording a very simple reaction — that “yes, no, yes, no” described above — and processing it in such a way that it lets both parties know how to proceed accordingly — like with a date.

Check out the rest of our Roadmap 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page