I remember the reaction of people many years when someone spoke of a friend using an online dating service. The general assumption by people was that they must have been desperate.
It is funny how times change and things become socially acceptable. Online dating no longer has the stigma that it once had. Today, it is one of the most common ways for people to meet each other and a 2 billion dollar industry that keeps getting bigger and bigger.
It is therefore no surprise that many entrepreneurs are trying to cash in on the popularity of online dating.
In this article, I would like to review a professional dating script for you called PG Dating Pro. It has been around since 1999, which makes it one of the oldest dating scripts available online.
What PG Dating Pro Offers
The developers of PG Dating Pro provided me with access to a demo website of their script in order to check it out for this review.
The home page design looks good. It is a minimal design. Simple, but effective.
I logged into the dating website to see how it all worked. The default design is clean and easy to navigate. Members are displayed at the top of every page so you can easily view different members when you are browsing.
Unfortunately, my first impressions of PG Dating Pro were not good as the demo website was terribly slow.
I looked at a user's profile and then switched from one tab to the other and it took 30 seconds to load. I then switched to the gallery tab and it took over a minute to load. Yes, over 60 seconds to switch tabs!
I gave the script the benefit of doubt and assumed that the hosting company that was hosting the demo website was experiencing some slowdown temporarily. However, when I checked an hour later, the same slowdown problems were there. It then dawned on me that navigating the admin area of the website was quick, even when the front end of the website was super slow. This confirms that the slow loading times were down to the script itself, not the hosting company.
A quick test of the demo page on GTmetrix reveals how inefficient the script is. The script has not been optimised for speed, with loading times sometimes taking several seconds. A couple of times GTmetrix could not even do a test of the website for me because it timed out! I have being used speed testing websites for years and that has never happened. Never.
The features page of PG Dating Pro proudly states that the script is both “human-friendly and search-engine-friendly”. However, this is not 2002. Search Engine Optimisation has gone beyond inserting meta descriptions and meta keywords into pages.
Since I was provided with access to the demo area of the script and did not actually see the files myself, I have not been able to examine the quality of coding directly. Though I did quickly check the source of a few pages. I noticed on the home page, for example, that they used H1 header tags in four places (despite the fact search engines ask you to only use a H1 header once on a page).
One of the most important search engine ranking factors of websites is load time. Sadly, this is one area where PG Dating Pro fails badly.
So is PG Dating Pro search-engine-friendly? No. Not at all. The developers could maybe have made this claim a dozen or so years ago, but they have fell behind the times.
Users of your dating website can find each other easily by browsing your website or performing a user search. There are options to make people friends, favourite them, and blacklist them.
You can also communicate with others by private message, sending kisses and winks, and leaving a message on their wall. There is a shoutbox too.
On closer inspection, PG Dating Pro is not set up well for a dating script. It appears to be more of a social networking solution than a dating solution.
Take the wall for example. The script has a Facebook-inspired message wall where users can leave messages for each other. Why would a dating service offer this?
If you are looking for someone to date, do you really want to see all the other men and women who have flirted, liked, and chatted, with the person you like? The whole idea of adding a message wall for everyone to send messages seems bizarre.
The script allows you to charge users for certain features: such as instant messenger, using private messaging, or hiding your profile. There is a gift store option too (for a fee).
I also noticed that users can upload banners to their account. I still have no reason why this option is in the account area for people who are dating.
Administrating PG Dating Pro
Administrating your PG Dating Pro powered dating website is simple. The admin area loads quickly and is simple to navigate. Everything can be reached via the main menu that is displayed on the left column.
Once you have configured your website, the admin area will be mainly used to moderate users, content, and payments.
Going back to the issue of SEO, I noticed in the admin area that SEO has to be inputted manually for users. Can you imagine doing this for thousands of users? Why this data is not automatically taken from the user's profile is beyond me.
The script supports a dozen billing systems, including PayPal, 2Checkout, and Google Wallet (though I did not test these). Basic elements of your design can be modified through the admin area too: however, I found the options available for creating different packages to be limiting. You cannot choose what features a particular package will have by default, or modify permissions.
While I have no problem with the minimal look of the admin area, I was concerned about the lack of options. The admin area feels a little dated and there are not enough options to help you customise your dating website fully.
We finally come to the elephant in the room: Pricing.
PG Dating Pro feels like a dated script that would not feel out of place ten years ago. I assumed the script would be free to download or would be available at a reasonable price, such as $29 or $39. Unfortunately, PG Dating Pro is one of the most expensive dating scripts available.
Not only is the script expensive, but there are too many different options available to purchase PG Dating Pro. The version I tested is called Dating Pro 2015. Seven different licenses are available: ranging from their cheapest plan at $399 to their most expensive plan at $3,000.
The $399 version will give you support and updates for one year. It then costs $99 per year for updates. The $3,000 option offers 14.5 hours of custom modifications, 3 months of a cheap hosting plan, and a range of add ons that add more features to the script.
Well, you will be.
Dating Pro 2014 is still available. It is the exact same price as the 2015 version, but has less features. And to confuse matters even more, they also offer a matchmaking script from $249.
A total of 33 add-ons are available for PG Dating Pro. The pricing for these add-ons are ludicrous. For example, it will cost you an $249 to add support for Google's Rich Snippets, a whopping $200 for a simple widget that displays users photos, and $699.00 for mobile apps.
Who is paying these prices?
PG Dating Pro is already an expensive solution, but by charging hundreds of dollars for features that should be standard, they have made it impossible for anyone to justify purchasing the script.
Whenever a company asks me to review one of their products, I always do my best to take the time to look at everything and give an honest review for my readers. I ensure that any criticism is positive and that my review is performed without bias.
The script is not optimised for search engines and has design issues that are causing pages to take several seconds to load. And the price of the script is inexcusable. I do not believe they can justify charging so much for a script that is outdated, slow, and lacking of features.
In short, if you are looking for a solution to start a dating website online, please avoid PG Dating Pro.
Thanks for reading.