Whether you’ve tried chatting with people online before or not, you probably get the general idea. People can sign up, find people they like and start talking to them, and (hopefully) end up finding someone they can keep a good conversation going with.
What goes into making this happen, though? Some chat platforms, especially apps, stick with a pretty basic algorithm. Others rely on complex algorithms and personality questionnaires to recommend the most accurate matches possible. That’s the backbone of a chat site, but there’s a lot more to it than that. There are the messaging features, search tools, filter settings, and more – all the features that have been developed to make chatting onling easy and enjoyable.
Not every chat platform will have every one of these features. For example, search tools are far from universal, and there are several different kinds of filters that are used. Whatever its specific offerings are, each chat site will take a different strategy for its features – and it’s up to you to figure out which one will work best for you.
Social media integration
When you’re looking online for a chat, it’s always nice to get some confirmation on the person you’re talking to – and it’s even nicer if it’s right there on their chat profile. When you integrate a social media account with your chat profile, you’re signaling trustworthiness to the other members. Not only will they be able to see how you represent yourself on your profile, but they’ll be able to check Facebook, Instagram, or Google+ and see that you aren’t trying to hide anything.
You’ll also be able to save some time as you’re signing up. If you log in using social media instead of making a separate account on the chat platform, information like your name, birthdate, location, etc. will be automatically exported to your new profile. Some chat platforms are extra smart about it, and pull some of your old profile pictures as they’re setting up the account. Once that’s done, all that’s left is to make any necessary edits, and then publish the profile.
As mentioned above, not every chat platform will offer a search tool. The ones that do, though, can make it pretty complicated – in the best way.
On one end of the spectrum, you have the “one scoop of vanilla ice cream” type of search tool. It’ll give you results for profiles’ gender, proximity, and age. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the “I want all the toppings please” kind of search tool, like the one you can find on chat sites like Fruzo. Not only can you search with all kinds of different criteria, but you can also look for profiles by keyword. Searching for someone who loves Pink Floyd as much as you do? Just type it in and watch the results roll in.
While most search tools aren’t built for keyword searches, they can still be pretty complex. If this sounds like something you’d like, try to find one that will show results for things like ethnicity, religion, age, height, income, occupation, eye color, etc.
A common-sense messaging feature
Don’t let chat sites beguile you with “unlimited messaging”; what you’ll probably end up getting is unlimited bots. Instead, look for something that generally doesn’t let any and all members message each other, instead limiting chatting to mutually paired users.
Think of someone’s messages like currency. The more they produce, the less valuable each message is. What would you rather see – copy-pasted greetings from way too many people, or a manageable number of messages from only the users you’re interested in?
Of course, you’ll also probably want to avoid the chat sites that charge for the messages you send, or that have a word limit. Maybe it doesn’t cost that much, and maybe you’re not that wordy anyway; but it still isn’t as much fun.
Filters to reduce extraneous interactions
There are search tools, which help you get straight to what you want; and then there are filters, which help you get rid of what you don’t want. Filters on chat platforms can take many different forms, so you can take your pick. Some of them appear as inbox settings, so you don’t ever have to mess with spam, scammers, or messages from profiles that don’t meet your standards. Others could delete old conversations, so nobody will try for a pointless second chance.
Some sites offer filters that automatically block any message or match that contains a dealbreaker, meaning the users can get straight to the interactions they do want.
Safety measures (blocking and reporting)
At some point, most people on a chat site will run across a scammer or two. Aside from scams, there could also be spam messages, harassment from another member, or even someone who simply can’t take a hint. In any of these cases, a chat site should give their users the ability to block and report accounts as needed.
This feature isn’t quite as exciting as a cutting-edge search tool, but it’s pretty central to every member’s experience on their chosen platform. If filters don’t block the message (or if they just aren’t there to begin with), you’ll want to be able to take care of it yourself. For accounts that clearly have no business being on a chat site, blocking and reporting is a good way to regulate the number of sketchy accounts that are on the platform.
Which of these features will your next chat platform focus on?
Many chat platforms tend to make specific features their strong point, and develop the rest of the site around it. The question is, which one will you choose?