Comparing the Top 5 Dating Sites: How Easy Are They to Use?
Online dating’s popularity has grown among every demographic group in recent years, meaning it’s not just something that kids and college students are doing. Many people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s are also looking online for love and companionship.
There are a number of dating sites to choose from. For beginners to the scene, an important question is: How easy is it to use these online dating sites? We’ve taken a look at the best dating sites through the eyes of a novice user to see how they compare when it comes to usability and comfort.
When it comes to dating sites, it doesn’t get any quicker or easier than Zoosk. It’s an ideal dating site for those who have no experience in the world of online dating.
Signing up for Zoosk requires you to specify whether you are a man or a woman, and note if you're looking for a member of the same sex or the opposite sex. In addition, you must provide your email address, your location and upload a profile picture.
Zoosk suggests that your photo be of you alone and be taken in a reasonably well-lit place. Once you've uploaded a photo, Zoosk asks you a number of questions, such as:
What’s your body type?
Do you have children?
What’s your highest level of education?
What’s your ethnicity?
What’s your height?
Do you smoke?
That’s all it takes to start clicking through profiles. Zoosk begins showing you profiles in an age range close to your own, but you can edit the search to an age range of your choosing and to a given distance from your geographical location. You can smile or like a profile, or send a message. If you want to send a message, you will have to provide more information for your profile, including a screen name that others will see.
Zoosk's wizard then shows you the Carousel game, in which you say yes, no or maybe to a host of pictures. Based on your answers, Zoosk attempts to learn your preferences and match you up with someone.
Zoosk allows you to look at a number of profiles to see if you are interested in signing up, but once you want to make contact with someone, you'll have to sign up for a subscription. This allows you to send messages, gain access to smart picks that Zoosk's matchmaking program makes, see who's viewed you, and chat with your connections.
*Updated: October 2017
You can sign up for 1 month, 3 months or 6 months, with the half-year subscription costing just $12.49 per month. The interface is simple and resembles Facebook.
Editing your profile is easy and intuitive, even if you’ve never used a dating site before. The same goes for searching through profiles of available singles and sending them messages. If you’ve used Facebook, or even just email or a messenger program, finding singles that can interest you on Zoosk is just as easy.
There are steps you can take to make sure your profile gets more views, such as buying coins which boost your profile, or signing up via Facebook or another social network to help verify your identity and set potential partners at ease about who you are.
Match.com immediately asks you your sex, whether you're seeking a man or a woman, what age range interests you, and what your zip code is. You then have to register by entering your email, a password and a name.
Match.com's wizard then asks you some personality and preference questions to learn who you are. Questions include:
What is your height?
What is your body type?
What is your relationship status?
Do you have any kids?
Do you want children?
What is your education level?
Do you smoke?
How often do you drink?
Which ethnicities best describe you?
What is your religion?
What is your salary?
What are your interests?
Match also asks you if you are looking for something specific in a partner in any of these same categories. You can also choose if something is a deal breaker, such as smoking. Match then prompts you to write a 100-word free-form blurb about yourself for your profile. This can seem difficult and annoying at first, but it really helps sharpen your profile and tell people something about you that checking boxes just can’t do.
The next step in the profile-building process is to upload a photo. You can either drag and drop a photo or upload it from your computer.
*Updated: October 2017
You can fool around on the site and see what kind of singles it has to offer for free, but if you want to communicate with other daters, you have to buy a subscription. Match has subscriptions for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months, with the annual subscription saving you the most money at $19.99 per month. This is a reasonable price and your chances of successfully using the site to make matches are good, even if you've never used a dating site before.
Prior to subscribing to Match.com, you can view profiles, however you will need to sign up for a paid plan in order to chat with local singles, send and receive messages, see who's viewed your profile, and attend in-person events in your area.
Match.com's large community is impressive. Based on the preferences you have entered, it shows you page upon page of potential matches. You can refine your search to change age range, location or any other preference.
Like Zoosk, Match makes it easy to build your profile by asking you questions and essentially building it for you. It's certainly easier than trying to meet someone at a bar.
OurTime is a dating site specifically for 50+ singles. In order to connect you with singles near you, OurTime's setup wizard starts by asking for your zip code. It then asks you your sex, and whether you're seeking a man or a woman. In order to continue, you have to enter in your email address and a password of your choosing. The site asks for your date of birth and a username that other users will see you as.
OurTime then prompts you to upload a photo of yourself for your profile. While you are not required to do so, OurTime strongly recommends uploading a picture, noting that profiles with photos get 10 times more attention. The photo uploading process is simple, and can be done from Facebook, or from your computer.
OurTime next allows you to write a short description of yourself to help enhance your profile. This stage is optional, but OurTime makes it easier for you by giving several good examples of successful personal blurbs, such as:
"I love to read and have a big imagination. I’m looking for someone who enjoys having intellectual conversations and enjoys a good book. So go on, challenge me!"
At this point you can start seeing what kind of singles OurTime has to offer. However, you must subscribe in order to enjoy enhanced search and match options, instant message chat, seeing who is interested in you, and sending and receiving emails. Like all of the other sites, you can look for free, but in order to actually contact someone, you have to subscribe.
OurTime starts by showing you a general search of all of the relevant men or women in your geographical area. You can narrow down the search by age, distance from you, height, what they are looking for, status, ethnicity, smoking, build, children, religion or even zodiac sign.
You can send someone a flirt, to let them know you're interested and, if you're a subscriber, you can see who has flirted with you. You can also be so bold as to send a message to another single. Here, OurTime really helps out its users by giving them a suggested message to send that's ready to go, such as, "I'm always up for coffee and conversation. What's your favorite local coffee spot?"
All you have to do is press send. Of course, you are also free to write your own message. However, these ice breaking sentences can be a great help for someone new to such dating sites.
Standard 6-month plan
Value 6-month plan
*Updated: October 2017
If you like what you see as far as selection goes, and you're impressed with OurTime's easy-to-use site that really walks you through the process, you have a few subscription plans to choose from. There is a 1-month plan, that costs $7.49 per week; the standard 6-month plan, that costs $3.75 per week, or the value 6-month plan that goes for $4.49 per week and seeks to increase your chances of a match by highlighting your profile and messages, as well as notifying you when a message you've sent has been read.
OurTime gives the impression that it was made with beginning online daters in mind. Not only is it easy to use, but it gives you extra help with perhaps the most daunting part of the whole dating process: reaching out and starting a conversation.
EliteSingles targets educated singles, boasting an 82% university graduate rate among its members. This begs the question: Do you have to be a genius to use this dating site? We gave it a try to see how easy it is to use for an inexperienced online dater.
EliteSingles asks for your sex, whether you're seeking a man or a woman and your email address to start. Elite then gives what is likely the most comprehensive personality test among all dating sites. It takes about 20 minutes to complete and analyzes 29 unique personality traits in hopes of finding you more compatible partners.
EliteSingles' comprehensive personality test
Questions include your age, level of education, profession, physical characteristics, religious beliefs, personality traits, personal description, important qualities, personal interests, and special features. The quiz also asks your first name, where you reside, how far you're willing to travel for your partner, which income bracket you fall into, and which outdoor nature photo best describes you.
EliteSingles' personality test
Most of the questions require you to simply check a box corresponding with how much a certain characteristic is important, however, there are a few open questions which require type-in answers.
Next it is time to upload your photo, either from your computer or from your Facebook account. This step is completely optional, but highly recommended. If you don't have any digital photos of yourself, you can send a suitable printed photo to EliteSingles and the team will scan it for you. According to EliteSingles, you are 8 times less likely to be contacted without an uploaded profile photo, so this step is important.
Even after completing the comprehensive personality questionnaire, there are still more free form questions to answer to complete your profile, but these are optional. From this point onward, EliteSingles will start sending you 3 to 7 matches per day, which you can choose to contact or not. However, in order to contact those matches you must subscribe to a paid plan. This site has 3-month, 6-month and 12-month plans. The 3-month plan costs $37.95 per month, the 6-month plan is $21.95 per month and the 12-month plan is $19.95 per month.
*Updated: October 2017
You can adjust the age range, height and location of your matches. Each single has a matching score that corresponds with how compatible you are based on your profiles.
As opposed to the other dating sites, Elite focuses on quality, rather than quantity. It makes it easier by finding matches for you. The profile setup phase is time-consuming and can be difficult if you don't like talking about yourself. However, once you get the hard part out of the way, Elite makes the rest pretty easy.
eharmony, which targets people looking for long-term relationships, begins by asking you your sex and whether you're seeking a man or woman like the other sites, as well your first name and zip code. In order to start you must also provide an email and password as well.
eharmony helps you compile your profile by asking you a series of questions:
What's your relationship status?
How many children do you have?
Where do you live?
When were you born?
What's your ethnicity?
What best describes your religious beliefs or spirituality?
Please choose your denomination Which describes your highest level of education?
What do you do?
What's your personal income?
Aside from any children you or a new partner may already have, would you like to start a new family?
How often do you smoke?
How often do you drink?
How tall are you?
What are you passionate about?
What two or three things do you enjoy doing with your leisure time?
What are the three things you're thankful for?
Then it asks you a series of questions to see who you are looking for:
I'm looking for someone between the ages of...
How important is your match's age?
It's ok to match me with men/women who are... (list of ethnicities)
How important is your match's race
How important is your match's religion
How important is your match's education
How important is your match's income
Are you open to meeting someone who already has children?
How far should we search for your matches?
How important is the distance of your match?
The most my matches can smoke is...
The most my matches can drink is...
After this phase has been completed, it's time for eharmony's compatibility quiz, which seeks to match you with people based on key areas of personality. This is pretty similar to EliteSingles’ comprehensive compatibility quiz. It starts by asking you to what degree certain words describe you.
eharmony's compatibility quiz
It continues by asking you a series of questions about how you live your life. For example, to what degree do you do things according to plan? This section is followed by a series of questions on how you generally feel: happy, anxious, fortunate, fearful about the future, etc. The next section features questions about your interests. Finally, you are prompted to answer some questions on your relationship values.
eharmony's compatibility quiz
Once you’ve finished with the compatibility quiz, it’s time to upload your photo, which can be done from your computer or Facebook.
eharmony doesn't let you see your matches before subscribing as the other sites do, it just gives you a sneak peak of 4 photos with no other information. eharmony offers both standard and premium plans for 3,6 or 12 months. A 3-month standard plan costs $58.95 per month, while its premium counterpart is $70.95 per month. A 6-month standard plan is $42.95, while the premium version goes for $46.95 per month. A 12-month standard plan is $21.95 per month, while a premium 12-month plan is $29.95 per month.
*Updated: October 2017
All eharmony plans allow you to see who's viewed you, send and receive unlimited messages, see match photos, see who's favorited you and browse matches outside your preferences. On top of these standard features, premium plans include a phone call with an eharmony expert for personalized help, anonymous match browsing, notification if your messages have been read and 24 hours every month as a featured match.
For the newcomer to the world of online dating, it might be worth it to spring for a premium package. However, even with a standard plan, you should manage to find your way around the site, even if you’ve never online dated before. As is the case with EliteSingles, the most time-consuming part of using eharmony is the initial setup, but after that, you should be well on your way to finding a match.
There are plenty of easy-to-use dating sites that will quickly put the first-time user at ease. Zoosk, Match and OurTime excel in this department, with a quick profile setup and intuitive interface. EliteSingles and eharmony demand much more of the user in the setup phase, but the extra information and time you put in helps handpick more quality matches for you.
Start dating today with the help of our in-depth reviews of all of the leading online dating sites.