Messages are now in real-time

Following our user survey, an item that came up a number of times was our messaging system. Users said they wanted it to be faster to communicate. When new messages arrived you had to reload the page to see the reply. This limitation has now been removed and whilst working on this we updated quite a bit more and have extra features planned in the short term.

Live conversations

The message system within our dating platform now works in a similar way to most live messaging apps such as iMessage and Whatsapp. The message system updates when a new message arrives on mobile, desktop and tablet platforms.

Simpler display

We also worked on the layout. It may not look much different at first glance but our aim was to reduce the amount of on screen data, making the focus the conversation. The screenshot below shows a conversation within the new system (desktop version).

live chat message system

We only show the other persons picture once and it’s always on the latest message they have sent. Displaying it on every part of the conversation is a huge waste of screen space.

The read receipt status is now only shown on the last message you have sent and the last reply you have received. Telling you something was read last week that you have already read is pointless.

The reply box has been totally redesigned. It now has a much cleaner look and remains at the bottom of the screen at all times. If you scroll up to read older messages and a new message arrives the screen will reposition at the latest message. You will also notice the addition of a block button on the desktop version. Mobile users will need to click through to the profile to perform a block for the time being. This is purely down to screen space. Our next plan will be to add picture uploads and we need to design this carefully for mobile, as space is very limited on the screen but the controls need to be large enough for your fingers. This is always the challenge for mobile devices, which are now 80% of our traffic.

Message history is now longer. It used to be the last 10 messages and has now been doubled to the last 20.

The previous system used to keep all messages within a conversation if the chat was still ongoing and only delete the messages after 30 days of inactivity. This would mean that if you chatted to someone every week for a year then a full year of conversation would be stored in the database. We have now changed this so any part of a conversation older than 30 days is removed permanently from the server. This ensures that legacy conversations are removed if our database was ever compromised. Other dating companies have got into trouble for storing data for long periods and then get hacked, exposing data to the world. You can be sure your data is removed as we use a statement like this within our code (example is Pseudo-code [not real code]):

DELETE FROM thedatabasename WHERE ageofcoversatiob>’30 days’

Commands like this are automated to run every hour so no human intervention is needed to ensure legacy data is cleansed.

On the message preview screen we have also added an ‘edit’ button. This allows you to delete conversations with a single click. Many female users had requested this as they were inundated with messages and found it hard to manage the replies. In addition a message filter has been been added allowing you to sort messages by gender of the sender and the status of the message (read and unread). You can see this new layout in the screen shot below on the mobile interface.

Mobile messages for dating

Over the next few weeks we will also be altering the database structure that handles messages and you should not notice any differences but once done it will allow better filtering and more controls for you when looking at sent messages. For this to be done we are currently running two databases and when ready we will turn the old one off and continue with the newer. This is due to legacy reasons. When the site was first developed it only had the concept of messages and later it was migrated to conversations (multiple messages grouped together).

The older message system sent you an email confirmation for each new message. With the move to realtime messages you could finish chatting only to see 100s of emails telling you something you already know. The new system will not send an email to another member if they have been active on the site within the past five minutes which will reduce the amount of email traffic you receive.

We hope you like the changes to the message system and thank everyone who gave feedback requesting we updated it. We want to make a site that you love to use.

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