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Online Dating Services - Udate Review
Review by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Online Dating Magazine

Dating Site: Udate
Slogan: Fun, Friendship & Romance... You Decide
Review Date: July 21, 2003
Original Online Dating Magazine Rating: 7/10
Reevaluation Date: November 20, 2003
Reevaluation Rating: 6/10 (downgraded)
Browse for Free? No

Cost Structure
1 Month = $24.95
3 Months = $49.95
6 Months = $74.95

Best Feature:
Photos you upload are generally uploaded within 20 minutes! Most services take 24 hours to several days. However, Udate puts an emphasis on having photos up in a timely manner.

Most Annoying Feature:
Inability to delete matches that don't interest you.

Review
Udate has a nice approach to the dating scene by the many different ways it allows you to browse others. But the first thing you'll notice about Udate, after you sign up, is how quickly you can get started. When you fill out your profile, it displays immediately. When you submit photos they are approved in about 20 minutes or less! This was quite refreshing as most other services take up to 4 days to approve your photos, making it impossible for you to gain the benefits of their service until that time.

Navigation through Udate takes place with tabs located at the top of each page:

My Udate allows you to update your profile, settings, and to select what type of people can view you. Who's On shows you who is currently using the service within the region you set. Match shows you what people appear high on your match list (based on your profile selections) and which people you cross-match well with.

Encounters is one of the best parts of Udate. Encounters allows you to see who has browsed you, who has marked you as a friend, which people appear high on your match list, and which people have you appearing high on their match list. For me, Encounters is what makes Udate a great service. If I see someone has marked me as a Friend and I view their profile and like what I read, then I feel very comfortable emailing that person and introducing myself. And if I see someone has browsed me and not marked me as a Friend then I'll generally take no action in communicating with that person.

So, in essence, Encounters takes away a lot of the guesswork in whether your profile is interesting to someone else. I always mark interesting profiles as Friends so that they can see, via Encounters, that I'm interested. If they browse me and don't mark me as a Friend in return then I promptly remove my Friend rating and move on. It saves me time in crafting an email (particularly since I make sure all my emails are personalized versus copy and paste) if I know the person may not be interested in advance.

Udate's Gallery displays various pictures of the opposite gender (that fall within your age and geographic settings), which allows you quickly see what type of physical attraction you have to others. The Gallery is updated every day.

The Mail system is a bit different and could use some upgrading. It's a bit confusing in how they list who has mailed you, who you have mailed, and what history of Mailing the two of you have. I generally provide a real email address soon after Mailing someone in order to avoid the awkwardness of the system.

Udate also features something called "Whispers" which is their "instant messaging" type feature. Unfortunately, the feature appears to be HTML based as the page has to refresh for you to see the message the person is typing. That takes away from some of the enjoyment.

Another problem with Udate is the Match system. Udate doesn't allow you to delete a match that you're not interested in. Therefore you may continue to get matches that you've already determined are incompatible with you.

The other annoying thing about their mail is that if a full paying member emails you, you can't read the message the member sent until you pay to become a member! Here's the message you receive when trying to open the email you received:

My Experience
I've communicated with some great people on Udate. One of those encounters led to us meeting in person where we had a great time and ended up forming a relationship for a few months. I think everyone's results would be better if Udate took the time to implement some of my suggestions below.

Recommendations to uDate
My list of recommendations for Udate is rather lengthy and could probably encompass an entire feature article. Nine months ago I went through the Udate service in detail and came up with a list of solid suggestions for them to improve their Website. At the time, Udate was offering money for the best improvement suggestions. It's funny, because not only do you never hear of anyone winning money for their suggestion, but Udate also didn't as much as send a "thank you" to me for the suggestions I gave.

So the following list of recommendations I have are actually from nine months ago, but things that Udate still has not changed or upgraded. Hopefully Udate will the message soon as other services continue to upgrade while Udate seems to sit still.

1) Under Status make "Divorced/Separated" two different options. These are vastly different as one indicates you are still married and the other indicates you are legally single again.

2) Under Job, list "Marketing" as one of the options. Marketing is a huge field and it isn't covered in any of the selections.

3) As one of the food choices (you have Italian, Pizza, French, etc.) you may want to add "Mexican" – this is a big one!

4) It would be nice if you could expand the Myself portion with one or two more questions. Specifically, questions like, "What do you look for in a match?" and "What makes a relationship work?" These questions give more insight than "where do you see yourself in three years?"

5) Allow a person to "delete" an email. That way they don't have to "block" the person in order to delete the email. If I'm not interested in someone, I should be able to delete their message without blocking them. This keeps the Mail section more relevant to the user's needs, as well as more organized.

6) It would be nice if you had a system that allowed a person to send a "flirt note" or something like that with options to select like, "I may be interested in you" - "mail me. We may be a match" – "I like your profile". This creates a unique new feature that allows a person to express an interest and hopefully get an email in return. Plus you can have it as part of your free program because if a person gets one of these "flirt notes" they have to sign up to send a message or whisper.

7) Fix the punctuation problems in the Myself section where commas and apostrophes don’t show.

8) Allow people to add "captions" under their picture(s) if desired.

9) Having a simple "turn profile ON or OFF" option would be nice. That way a person can temporarily turn their profile off without deleting it as is currently the case.

10) Allow a person to "remove a match" so that if they are not interested the person doesn't keep popping up in their #1 slot.

11) Stop forcing both members to sign up in order to communicate with each other.

Conclusion
Udate is a fun and great service that suffers from several correctable problems. The question is "when will Udate finally upgrade its services?" Udate was one of the first services to implement the idea of allowing you to see who is browsing you ("Encounters"). This is a great feature that makes the service more fun and beneficial.

Pros Cons
photo approval is quick very expensive
"Encounters" both must subscribe
Two-Way Matches don't listen to suggestions
Keep notes on "Friends" IM is HTML-based
  can't delete matches

Reevaluation Review
In the four months since the original review, Udate has done nothing to upgrade their service or fix problems. The service asks users to send them recommendations, but nothing seems to change as a result. In addition, the two-way matching feature seems to be problematic for some users as it doesn't return results even though there are two-way matches.

The original score given to Udate was 7 out of 10. A reevaluation of that score, four months later, has resulted in Online Dating Magazine downgrading Udate from a 7 to a 6.

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Click here to submit your review of Udate.


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