OKCupid Made Two Huge Mistakes in 2017

Posted By Debbie on December 25, 2017

I know, I’m on a roll with 3 blog posts about OKCupid this week. I’m negatively shocked by what they’ve been doing both as a UX professional and as one of their success stories.

While researching more news about the Dec 2017 real names policy, I also found that in July 2017, OKCupid decided that they would no longer show you a list of who visited your profile. OKCupid explained the decision saying that if someone sees your profile but doesn’t “like” or “message” you, they are not worth your time.

Perhaps that’s true for someone with a match percentage under 90% or 85%. I might not have enough in common with that person on which to build a serious relationship. But if the match percentage is high, why not let me know they visited so I can check them out?

Without reading further news from OKCupid, I’m prepared to officially declare that Product doesn’t know the customer and there is either no UX team, there is an untalented UX team, or they don’t know how to stand up to the Product team.

This one I take a bit personally. Let me tell you a little story.

In early 2017, I started a new OKCupid profile and was back in the dating world. I was feeling a bit passive about dating. My strategy was to just look at the list of who viewed my profile (now defunct), check for high matches, and look at those profiles.

That might seem like a doomed plan. If those guys were interested, they would get in touch, right? Not if you really think about online dating habits.

You have shy people. You have people still deciding what to do. You have people who don’t like to make the first move. You have people who (like me) are being a bit passive about dating. Lots of reasons why someone might view a profile, feel a bit interested, but neither “like” nor “message.” You have people who aren’t ready to show me they’re interested, as likes and messages would do.

With empathy, I can imagine those users and scenarios.

What did you find, Debbie?

One day, I found a guy who was a 93% match. That looks promising! Ooooo wait, look at his username. He added some numbers to the title of a Kate Bush song (now defunct since OKC asks you to use the “real” name people know you by). I’m a HUGE Kate Bush fan. Hey, this could be a guy who likes some of the same music I like. And after previous dating adventures, I’ve decided that SOME music overlap is important.

His profile didn’t reveal that much about him. I figured he was still working on it. His pictures were able to capture a lot of joy, some silliness, and some introspection.

I’m being passive. Who knows what will happen. I’d be happy even just to make new friends. He didn’t write to me so I’ll write to him… just to say hello and mention his Kate Bush-related profile name. I think I messaged him with one sentence.

Oooo, what happened next?

We started writing, we then moved to video calls, we then met in person, we fell in love. We’ve been dating most of 2017 and we are both deeply happy. He’s nearly everything I’ve ever dreamed of and could never find. I’ve never been in a relationship that has gone this much time without a problem of any size. We are both high empathy problem solvers and caretakers.

We’re an OKCupid success story.

So why didn’t he “like” or message me when he saw my profile? Because of the distance. He figured I lived too far away; with his work and life, he can’t get away easily. We’d never see each other. (He didn’t count on me having the flexibility in my 2017 life to travel to him a number of times and stay for long periods. When you can work remotely, who cares where you are? Just answer the phone, answer emails, get it all done.)

How many people will miss out on what I found?

Two things OKCupid did away with this year, fun usernames and the list of who viewed your profile, are the ONLY ways I found this guy. I once went to OKCupid and fine tuned my search so that he would HAVE to come up. His location, his age, his height, I tried to mirror all of his profile answers. He didn’t come up in search. He wasn’t shown to me in the carousel slide show of suggested people.

It seemed like there was going to be no other way that we might have found each other.

OKCupid only showed him to me because I was on vacation near where he lived. Even though I wasn’t looking for dates in his location and his search radius didn’t include San Francisco (where I lived at the time), OKCupid was showing me to men where I was vacationing (and showing those men to me). If they haven’t announced it already, maybe NEXT they will stop showing you matches based on temporary locations… and only show you matches based on the radius from where you live.

At the rate they’re going, perhaps I’ll be their last truly amazing success story.

Out of touch with the customer

From OKCupid’s announcements on these changes, they seem completely out of touch.

They don’t understand the safety and privacy ramifications of using your real name. They slightly backed down from “no usernames, real names only” to “use what people call you,” while forcing people to fill out real name form fields. And people are filling out all KINDS of random stuff. Non-problem not solved.

They are sure that anybody who viewed your profile but didn’t immediately act is “not worth your time.” They just don’t seem to understand their customers’ real and possible behaviours.

With all I’ve been reading, I’m not alone in thinking a once great company is truly doing itself in. I hope they can get themselves out of this spiral. I made good friends there. I found a man who fills me with happiness, joy, and gratitude around 500 times a day. I don’t want people to miss out on what I found. I hope OKCupid will change their Product and UX teams… and refocus on the reality of their customers.