I'm fond of using the example of Tinder to illustrate how compelling digital products don't need to be elaborate and stacked with features. Humans have a strict cognitive limit for the number of features they can process or handle, so its easy for engineering teams to throw resources at feature overkill. Instead, I always advocate focussing on the core interaction - that single behavioural action that delivers the value proposition and cements the value of the brand to the user.
Of course, getting to the core interaction isn't easy or straightforward. Iterating designs and research & testing with real users in real world contexts is easier said than done. But once there, the core interaction provides the basis for scale and monetisation across the life of the product.
Tinder, again, is an excellent example of this. After establishing its product core in its famously simple matching interaction, Tinder went on to provide additional features around the core interaction for a premium. Things like 'go back to see previous profile', 'change swiping location', concealing and revealing certain personal details and a number of other features come at a price.
Recently, Tinder has been innovating again, but is still anchored deeply in its core interaction. Lets take a quick look at just two of Tinder's new in-app innovations that are designed to bring in new users as well as enhance engagement.
'Tinder Social' is about a psychological phenomenon called Social Proof.
This is true design-driven innovation by Tinder, and reveals the teams deep understanding about it's user behaviour. Tinder now allows 'group meetups' (I'd not go so far as to call it 'group dating') - which simply means groups of people can now 'match' and go out together. Which is what people do all the time anyways! In the real world, we call it a party, a hangout or a pub crawl. This is powerful feature because humans rely on social markers to make decisions when information is scarce. Going out with someone alone doesn't come with many social markers, and that's the reason having a common friend or going to a familiar bar is reassuring on a first date. Tinder's group meetup brings social proof right into the core interaction, eliminating the awkwardness, risk, and discomfort of those one-on-one first dates, and provides a safe and fun setting for the genuinely single and interested to meet each other. In fact, safety means fun because now you can relax. Meanwhile, the others in the group can party on as friends.
I'm certain that new friends, siblings, colleagues and classmates of current Tinder users will be onboarded onto Tinder as a result of this clever new feature. More traffic, more network effect, more value, more opportunities for diversification, scaling and monetisation.
Look how an app that started with basically one feature now has a number of features which it can monetise in many ways.
My word of caution to digital service builders is if you've started coding with a clear idea of the core interaction, its worth your time to stop and check. Without a cost-benefit analysis of every single feature on your service, without a crystal clear idea of how the core interaction is going to power the service, it's pointless to develop anything. The core interaction is a problem that can and should be solved on paper, with people.
(All images from Tinder's blog.)