Since 2018, our client has been running a successful dating network in their country. Introducing the concept of online dating in the country and with the sole purpose of separating social media and dating activities of local people and tourists, their platform now hosts over 300k users and has become the single biggest source for all dating related activities locally today.
On February 6th, 2019, the client contacted GeekyAnts following a path set by our work in the Flutter Hemisphere. He was looking for the best companies in Flutter and was dazzled by our portfolio. His mission was simple. A cross-platform mobile application for his already successful dating web-app, which required us to build the app right from the ground up, involving design, development and scaling to handle the number of users on the platform.
In the initial discussions, a scheme of 12 weeks was proposed to the client, which included designing, development, integration and testing of the application. These 12 weeks were then divided into two major phases, which were further broken down into 4, where each phase consisted of 1,4,5 & 7 milestones respectively. Constant communication with the client was a part of the deal which was delivered through Skype calls and emails. Also, some window was reserved for any express changes that were anticipated.
Being a successfully running business, it was important to bring this project to fruition with minimum disruption. Achieving this feat required a team with great expertise and knowledge to pull it off, and so a team of such caliber was gathered and deployed. The project was assigned two expert developers, one QA engineer and one designer, all lead by Sarika, the tech architect and project manager and Megha, the Lead for UI/UX. The team was gathered and introduced to the client who explained his requirements and expectations, which brought everyone on the same page and kicked off this project in all its glory.
Their web app converted into a cross-platform mobile application.
The users of the app shall be able to select matches based on geolocation and interests.
The app would inherit all features of the mobile web version of their platform, with a feel of a mobile application.
The app would feature a stacked cards view which would be swipeable to like or reject profiles and a chat feature, supplemented by a block and report user functionality.
On top of this, features such as push notifications and payment options and processing for Premium accounts and in-app purchases were also included.
It was time to get to work. The complete development of this project would include creating designs for the app, implementing them while developing front-end and finally integrating the pieces together and testing the complete product vigorously.
The complete development was divided into two major phases:
Phase 1: UI Development
Phase 2: Integration of the product with backend, testing & deployment.
The original idea for the platform's look & feel was to be similar to the mobile version of the web app that existed, but the UI team had different ideas. They proposed an intensive design phase which would bring about an original look to the mobile app, which would keep the originality of the platform intact but also give it a new spark. Preceding the first phase of development, 2 weeks were spent on designing a fresh look for the app. The team built 40 screens for the mobile app from scratch accompanied by a detailed documentation that explained functionalities and descriptions of each screen in these two weeks and after the approval of the client, the screens were handed over to the development team to commence Phase 1.
Phase 1 directed the development of the UI designs into functional app screens. Flutter was the choice of technology for the app and its numerous benefits made it the perfect choice. The expertise of the developers on mission led to the creation of the screen designs in a span of two weeks.
Phase 2 was initiated immediately after successful completion of the first phase. The screens were ready to be integrated with the existing backend to transform it into a fully functional application. Flutter was used in conjunction with Firebase to facilitate effective and reliable development of the app. The API's that were already put in place for the website were used to connect screens with the backend and fetch data into the app. The app inculcated a Tinder like card swipe animation with stacked pagination.
Although, there were some Mobile specific changes that were made to the API's such as:
- social authentication functions as well a payment gateway
- Social Authentication functions &
- Payment gateway integration for Premium users and in-app purchases.
Some business rules were also changed to allow implementation of conditional & interdependent filters, allowing non-premium male users to send message only in 8 minutes duration and other enhanced features.
The complete app also featured context based push notifications, filters based on gender, preferences and country, chat and match mechanisms for users and a paywall based on company rules.
Post development, the product was put through multiple levels of rigorous manual testing to reinstate confidence in every function of the app and sort out bugs that needed to be fixed. The product was also put through an intense User Acceptance Testing phase where the end-user tested the product upto satisfaction and reported any discrepancies, if found which were fixed in the following updates.
Obstacles while developing the perfect app are almost impossible to dodge and they are very welcome challenges that help the product reach its peak. The biggest challenge that we faced in the project was its app performance. Such an app uses a lot of visuals to appear pleasing and serve a majority of its tasks and it affects the user experience greatly, which is not acceptable. Hence, jump over this wall, our pogo stick came in the form of a cache manager. A cache manager was programmed to clear extra cache after certain limits (based on context and sections of the app) that would in-turn keep the user experience smooth and the OS healthy as well. Due to some specific requirements, we also had to modify certain open-source packages to meet those needs towards the last stages of development.
- Tasks were managed on Trello and Skype was used primarily for communication.
- Git was used to store and manage source code of the app.
- The app was deployed to Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
- A total of 16 milestones over were set and completed to see the product reach fruition.
With the success of the dating platform as a web app, it was imperative that the app takes over the platform with equal intensity on handheld devices. The pressure was high and the app delivered. According to the client, the app managed to rake in over a 1000 downloads within the first days of the app release without any marketing. The client was extremely happy with how the app turned out and the readiness of it for the market and was exhilarated by our help to bring his pet platform to mobile. Now, this platform is able to reach a wider market with its mobile application, promoting the benefits of the platform and the ease of handheld devices. Another happy consumer, another gold star on our shirt.