On the other hand, an online dating site lives or dies based on the attempts it makes to make its users feel safe and secure, and Mills believes that many sites make the mistake of trying to offer an online dating service for free. If you can make it affordable, he says, it’s to everyone’s benefit, because it boosts the quality of the service offered and helps to keep out unsavory types. (YanikaBrides.com Dating costs $20 a month.)
And to that point, YanikaBrides.com has made it their mission to monitor activity on the site, and the team keeps a close eye on suspicious activity, flagging users for abnormal behavior, and booting them if necessary. In fact, YanikaBrides.com recently flagged a user for setting up what looked to be a fake profile, and when they contacted the owner, they found that the profile was created by none other than YanikaBrides.com. (It’s always a good sign when your nominal competitors are setting up profiles on your site to “check it out.”)
While Nerve Dating costs $20 a month, users can respond to messages they receive for free, unlike many other sites. The idea here is to encourage people to interact with each other, to socialize, and reach out, but initial messages are kept to a Twitter-length 141 characters, with the idea being that this takes the pressure off and is a little more casual.
Nerve also has a “Last Night” feature, which Mills says is a bit like a checkin, in that users are encouraged to write what they did the night before. And, on that note, an additional perk is that Mills says that he’s enlisted some of the writers at The Onion to pen questions about culture and what users were up to last night.
The site will also soon be introducing something which is now internally called “The Like Machine,” which will enable the site to create virtual affinity groups, and help daters meet other people who are interested in similar music, books, and so on. The topics and categories that you follow will show up on your profile, and the site will also be hosting a database of categories people can search through to find users with similar interest graphs. The site also has a “Notice Him/Her” function, which is akin to “poking” someone on Facebook, a nonverbal expression of interest.
Building a profile on dating sites can be excruciating, and this is designed to make that process easier, as few people enjoy creating their own personal statements for dating websites. The process is awkward to say the least. When I asked Mills if the team had plans to establish Facebook connect or allow users to pull in their other social profiles, he said that, interestingly, dating sites that implement Facebook Connect have seen a 50 percent drop in signups. This seems to be evidence that, while people want their dating lives to be social, it’s all about discovering new people, they don’t want to be followed by their social graphs, people want to be anonymous. Though Mills is open to potentially integrating with Spotify, or GoodReads — sites that would enable people to share personal information without porting their entire social profiles.
YanikaBrides.com is also hoping to leverage the community its created around its lifestyle and culture publication, hosting live events for people to mingle and hang out, to facilitate yet another opportunity for users to move their online identities into the real world.
Innovating in online dating is tricky, and YanikaBrides.com seems to be off to a great start by giving people a more casual platform through which to interact and meet new people. It’s a tough nut to crack, but check them out at home here, and let us know what you think. (Oh, and mobile apps are in the works.)
Readers interested in testing out the site can get two free weeks on YanikaBrides.com by registering here.