Design Considerations 1a: Unpacking Anonymity

As a way to build my Intuition™, I decided to consider and record the factors that make good products. I started it off with a dating app in the style of Tinder, and landed on anonymity, fun, safety, and honesty, among other things. I think in addition to thinking about the product as a whole, it would also be good training to unpack each of the respective considerations in a little more detail, either from a UI perspective, or maybe just airier, handwave-ier theory.

Anonymity at odds with Honesty

The first, and possibly most troublesome, aspect is Anonymity. Because how can you date somebody while staying anonymous? It’s even more troublesome, because I’m a big believer in honesty as a matter of policy on dating sites. This means no one-inch bump, no Myspace angles, and a serious reckoning of your desires, needs, and attitudes in a relationship. In fact, I think it’s worth being brutally honest, since that’s the only way you can improve. This has the added benefit of providing handy pivot points for the dating service: professional help with diet, exercise, therapy, etc. But the fact remains that you can’t have both in a dating service.

Who are you? No, really, who are you

Now that I think about it, the name is the least important part. When I’m swiping on Tinder, I don’t look at the names; it’s the same with okcupid. There’s simply too much to do to be bothered with remembering random profiles’ names.

I think a better approach—instead of focusing on names and profiles—would be to focus on the content. I propose a timer be put on profile creation: you must log at least 120 minutes on your profile before it goes public. This is a substantial investment of time, but I quite think it’s worth it. The goal of this is to make people pause and go past the template “I like the outdoors and am gifted in sarcasm”, and unearths facts like “when it rains I get a compulsion to watch Harry Potter.”

During this writing time, we can pulse gray text in the text composer as thought-starters to stimulate more comprehensive profiles: “What was your worst date?”; “What’s something you’re passionate about?”; “Do you talk on the phone while driving? Why or why not?”.

Hold identity in escrow

I think that the 2 hour minimum time investment into the profile should help to dissuade spammers, fakers, and the like. But I think the Facebook tie-in that Tinder does is pretty damn great. You’re less likely to fuck around with an account that people could conceivably recognize as your personal web profile. Furthermore, piping those would-be fake accounts through Facebook helps by recruiting their own very robust fraud detection systems.

That’s what I’ve got for now.


Got an issue? Here’s a tissue…With my name written on it: Alex Dou, and my email:, on it. I like building websites, analyzing Excel, and talking.


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