The Internet has made it convenient to shop, job hunt, watch movies, and listen to music without rolling out of bed—and, if you haven’t already, you can add meeting potential mates to that list. Match.com, a premium online dating site, lets you do just that courtesy of a service designed to, well, match you with a potential partner. Match has a busy interface and requires you to purchase a subscription to anything worthwhile, but it lets users execute highly detailed searches that help them fine-tune their experiences.
Match has the typical setup process—you create a username, fill in your height, location, and other expected data. The act of filling out the profile details isn’t as interesting as Kiss.com’s quirky, Mad Libs-like profile creator, but it gets the job done.
Match lets users browse profiles for free, but if you want to interact with anyone beyond sending a “Wink”—an icebreaker that lets another person know that you’re interested—you have to pony up. In fact, Match dangles carrot after carrot to get you to open your wallet. Want to see who visited your page? Match asks for money. Want to see who sent you a message? Match asks for money. Want a profile that stands out from the rest? Match asks for money. It can be annoying. Subscriptions start at $42.99 for a single month, but the cost drops if you sign up for the three or six month Standard or Value packages. eHarmony straight up tells potential customers that they’ll need to fork up cash in order to play the dating game.
A menu at the top of the screen houses important options such as Search, Matches, Messages, Events (mix-and-mingle parties for singles), and Connections (where you can see favorited profiles, Winks, and more). The overall interface is visually very busy, especially when you have several unread notifications. Match’s interface doesn’t come close to touching eHarmony’s incredibly slick layout.
Match makes up for its money demands and sometimes irritating layout with far more search options than we found in any of the other dating site we reviewed. You can actually build your own match, complete with the interests, background, and lifestyle.
Advanced search filters contain detailed sorting of not just lifestyle features, such as exercise frequency and occupation, but also physical appearance, such as hair color and eye color, and specific keyword in profile, such as “‘marathon runner.” Additional search filters that are helpful for pin-pointing relevant profiles to meet your real-time needs include the ability to filter by “Online Now,” “Available to Chat,” and “Has Photo.” You can save the search criteria for future use.
Unique to Match, Email Filters not only decrease spammy emails, but also save you time by displaying profiles of the individuals that you would actually consider. Email filters are similar to search filters and can be adjusted at any time. Filtered mail is still accessible, stored in in the Filtered Mail folder, but the feature successfully keeps emails from users not meeting your must-have criteria from clogging your inbox.
Users can post more pictures at Match than they can with most other dating sites, and other members interact with them. Profile pictures can be “liked” or commented on, which provides an excellent route to passively show interest. In fact, Match’s galleries are often better conversation starters than the profile with which they’re associated.
Match’s “Like At First Sight” quiz is one of the more helpful online dating site quizzes as the results actually help the site ‘learn’ your preferences. This continually updated, detailed picture-game personality test helps to further define the features, looks, and interests to which you are attracted.
Making the Connection
After you set your dating criteria, Match displays general search results, and you can fine tune what’s shown by clicking on tabs. “Mutual Match” shows the profiles that most closely match what you’re looking for (and vice versa), and “Reverse Match” highlights users who are looking for people like you.
Profile pages contain the usual location, age, ethnicity, and other background/biographical information. Any changes you make to your profile must first be approved by Match.com, which can prove irritating when you want to quickly fix a typo or swap photos. Our tests demonstrated that Match approves most changes in under 10 minutes, however, so that’s perhaps less awful than it sounds.
Unlike eHarmony’s simple, well-designed homepage, Match’s homepage is extremely busy. Not only is there the expected search box, but a menu stripe for the Stir in-person events, and notifications for unviewed matches, connections, messages, winks, favorites, likes, and more. Signing in and seeing several items demanding your attention can be either enticing or highly annoying.
“DateSpark Search” is novel way to meet people. When you visit the section, you’ll see a list of Match members and their ideas for good first dates. It’s seems pointless, however, serving little purpose beyond acting as a one-sentence pick-up line. Our in-person date arrangements had nothing to do with what users wrote as their first date idea in DateSpark, but instead were based on the practicality such as availability, location, and time of day.
Some of the perks include read email notifications, ($4.99 per month), highlighted profiles ($4.99 per month), and matchPhone virtual phone number for calls and texts ($3.99 per month).
Match also lets users boost their profiles’ visibility by shelling out an additional $3 (plus sales tax) for the “Top Spot” feature. Top Spot moves your profile to the front of the line for 30 minutes so that you rank high in searches. If you want to quickly put your profile in front of tons of eyeballs, Top Spot is worth a try; the number of Winks and profile visits I received spiked when I used it.
The Match Game
PCMag.com Commerce Editor, Kara Kamenec, also explored Match to chronicle the in-person dating experience. She went on some dates, too. Match Bachelor (who shall be known as “MB” from here on out) made contact with Kara via an on-site message. Kara texted MB two days later, and they continued to text back and forth fairly frequently for several days before finally meeting in-person. MB’s messages were formal, polite and positive, yet Kara found his text message behavior even more positive, and extremely friendly. Almost every day MB asked Kara if she wanted to do something or “meet up” on the spot, which she declined due to other plans. On the fourth day, MB asked Kara out on a set date a few days later when they were both free.
Kara met MB at a gastropub/wine bar he picked after she told him the area that would be most convenient for her. Kara arrived first, ordered a drink, and awaited his arrival which came a few minutes later. Kara assumed, after texting with MB more than any other bachelor (and probably because she’s just jaded from dating in New York) that any man who texted that much and displayed so much positivity and kindness had to have something wrong with him. Kara couldn’t have been more wrong and happily surprised—they sat and talked for two hours over cocktails. This was Kara’s top-rated date out of all the sites and she definitely plans to see MB again.
Kara was impressed with Match’s ability to, well, match her with an excellent date. The userbase is far superior to POF’s rather irritating members.
Striking the Match
Match.com may not possess eHarmony’s elegance, but its super-detailed searches and filtering system will keep a steady flow of interesting profiles headed your way. If you can overlook Match’s busy interface and handful of other niggles, you’ll find it to be an online dating service that’s worth your time and money.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc