A Product Manager attempts to date: Match.com onboarding

I’ve been in and out of online dating for ages, sometimes paying, often not. After hearing I should be on a pay site for years, a friend joined one, met their partner, and moved in. Since that’s what I want, it seems worth a try. As a Product Manager by trade who has worked on onboarding before, I’m finding the experience fascinating.

Let’s talk about Match.com

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Okay, that’s a ton of white people, and all the women have long hair and all the guys have short hair and… I wondered if they were IP sniffing and know I’m somewhere that’s been gentrified to hell, but I VPNed in from other locations (Atlanta was one where I figured it’d have to be different) and it’s the same picture.

That’s a great sign.

So what are our options?

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Sigh. That’s not… great. So if you’re bisexual, you have to pick one? If it’s even more complicated than that, you’re entirely screwed? This seems so immediately exclusionary, and to what end?

I’ll continue on because I’m curious if this is going to stick and I enjoy torturing myself with hope. It’s worth noting that the prompt to go forward is “View Photos” which isn’t the user’s goal when they come to the page. They want to find a match at Match, not view photos. If they wanted to make themselves feel awful by looking at beautiful people they’re not going to get with, they’re not going to come here.

Match free

Nowwwww they’re putting the carrot in front of you. Here’s the interface you’ll see, there are 1,596 matches if only you’ll give them your Facebook or email.

Once you do that, though, the carrot is removed. There’s work to be done!

Match so marriage huh

That this is not “Relationship Status” but “past relationship status” always pisses me off. I’m divorced. Why does that matter? Why is that different than someone who lived with someone for a decade? Why is this question framed around marriage?

Further, this entirely neglects that there are a ton of other possibilities just within the boundaries of marriage. I don’t like this one at allllllll.

But I really want to talk about something in the background. 

That background image of the (seemingly) hetero couple? Shows on all the paths. If you’re looking for a same-sex relationship and signing up for Match, you get to stare at those two while you’re answering all the signup questions. There will be many questions.

I wonder if the non-hetero abandon rate is higher than it should be just on this. I hope so.

This is so low-effort, too! You need two more pictures so gay men and women see couples that reflect them. Is this just… no one who works on Match is gay? That can’t be true.

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This isn’t a potentially painful question or anything, thanks. Also, another question where you’re forced into an answer and maybe you don’t know, or maybe the answer doesn’t fit into these. This whole thing feels… vaguely coercive.

Interestingly, and we can chalk this up to progress or Match just having one path — the questions appear identical between paths. I admit I was afraid I wouldn’t be asked this when I tried those paths.

“Of course they’re asking gay people if they want kids,” you might say. “It’s 2019!”

And again, you have to identify in step one as a man or a woman, seeking a man or a woman. 

Anyway check out this progress bar:

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You’ve made progress, for sure, but how much longer? We have no idea. If it was soon they’d tell us, though.

What about only showing dots?

It must be deliberate to not reveal the icons as you go — if you know there are more steps, you forge ahead, but if you knew you were about to get asked about babies and smoking, that’s a look into a future that requires energy and is likely to be unpleasant. I would love to see their A/B results if they tried this.

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I hate that ethnicity is always a thing. Why? Because people are searching for or to avoid other ethnicity? Oh right, that’s exactly it.

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Framing here is also interesting: you must have a religion. Athiest? Agnostic? That’s a religion. I know, I’m being crotchety now.

They only show the top six options initially, and you have to expand to get to more. Why six? 

Your thought process to even get to those six has to be something like

“Protestants, of course, they’re nearly half the population, and Catholics, another quarter or so. Then it’s people who say no religion, but we can’t just put that, because we’re making them choose a religion. Ugh. Let’s break that down into “non-believers” “don’t care” and “New Age hippy-dippy people” and what’s that leave us? Non-christian religions and Judaism as a whole? Ugh, just… put it behind a more options bonus and call it a day.”

And that “Christian/Other” is first, when that wording makes it seem like a thrift store red tag item. Demographically, you’d think “Christian/Protestant” would be first — it’s almost half the US population. 

This interests screen intrigues me:

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One, you’re forced to pick five and only five. There’s a lot of implications in this approach. If you’re like me, you look at this and start to trade off what you’re going to put in there if you only have five. You have to pick the things that you see as most-defining, because you can’t do a laundry list like OkCupid. But also, what if nothing I like is on here? Do I just look at my overfull glass of Pinot and click “Wine Tasting” while sighing?

Also, Pinterest is its own thing? Facebook isn’t. Instagram isn’t. I’m curious how they got to that list.

Now we get to the search.

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Nah, I’m not looking for anything specific. I’ll just root through your dumpster or whatever. Don’t mind me.

Derek, how would you word it then?

I’d try something more goal-oriented, like “What do you want in a match?” 

Also, yes, this exercise is wearing on me.

 

Again, their “marital status” one makes me want to scream:

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“Hey how are you doing?”

“I used to be bad.”

“Okay, but now?”

“I can only tell you what happened in the past.”

“Cool.”

 

What proportion of people seriously want only widowed or currently separated matches? Is it really enough that adding this to both the profile and the search flow are worth the cost? That seems so unlikely.

And again, I hate that they let you search by ethnicity. It’s just gross.

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Now that you’ve picked the kind of flesh you’re interested in, time to flesh out your profile ha ha ha ha ha I’m dying inside, help, please, help.

 

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You’re forced to add one topic, and then you have the option to do two more… and wait! Now there’s only one dot remaining at the bottom? We’re ALMOST DONEEEE.

Now! Upload that image!

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I dig this, actually. It’s clear about why you should upload a picture, it’s clear what the next step is — but again, do people come to Match to view and be viewed, or to find a partner? If it’s a partner, then how much do my chances improve there?

The actual experience fell down for me, too: when you upload, nothing happens for a long time, so you might upload the same image repeatedly, and then it only complains on the next page… anyway.

full member

Hey wait, I’m not a full member? I just did all that work! Continue…

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This concludes my examination of Match.com’s onboarding process.

Of course it doesn’t.

I will also note that if you have an adblocker on, throughout the process you’ll see you’re avoiding a staggering amount of crap. Disabling the ad blocking does not get that page to load though.

I’ll do them the solid of heading back to the base site. Oh sweet, CAPTCHA in order to log back in.

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Kinda feeling like that fire hydrant actually. Fiiiine —

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Ha. This concludes my look at Match.com’s onboarding.

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