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Non-Violent Dating Experience

Raising awareness of dating app-facilitated sexual violence through legal design



Master Program





Project Overview​

Mobile technologies enter many areas of life, changing experiences and behaviors. One of the most prominent is the digitalization of the way of relationships with new people. This experience is becoming increasingly popular with mobile dating apps. While dating apps make it practical to meet new people, they also raise some safety issues. One of these issues is the risk to incur into episodes of sexual violence. Another issue is that victims of harassment have difficulty in reporting these incidents.

This thesis focused on raising awareness about dating app-facilitated sexual violence from a legal design perspective. Firstly, content and interactions were designed to inform users about the scope of violence and what to do in case of sexual violence. Then, the most effective content and interaction method across the user was determined among different design proposals.

In the last stage, the study aimed to set an example for designers in terms of the application area of legal design and the integration of law into design.


Research Question

To construct the study, one main research question was formulated, and supported by two sub-questions, to deeper explore the topic:

How can we reduce the incidence of dating app-facilitated sexual violence through design?

• How can we raise awareness about dating app-facilitated sexual violence & the rights of the victims?

• How can we develop effective and feasible design proposals?

Research Structure

The research consisted of 5 phases and was guided by the Double Diamond approach throughout the process.


  • Dating app users, predominantly aged between 18 and 25, were most vulnerable to dating app-facilitated sexual violence (DAFSV).

  • Literature suggested under reporting of sexual harassment due to fear or reluctance, indicating a gap between reported incidents and actual occurrences.

  • Victim self-blame was common, particularly when initial interactions involved explicit messages or visits to the harasser's home, leading to hesitancy in reporting.

  • DAFSV often occurred on a first date, when individuals felt a false sense of closeness due to previous digital interactions and acted imprudently (the Halo Effect).

  • Dating apps could serve as platforms to raise awareness about sexual harassment, providing informative content on rights and available resources, fostering a sense of support for victims, and potentially deterring harassers.


  • The issues surrounding mobile dating apps, particularly regarding DAFSV, were centered on the intersection of technology, design, and legal processes.

  • Effective solutions could be developed by addressing these problems through the lens of Legal Design, which integrated technology, design, and law concepts.

  • Information design, a key component of Legal Design, facilitated the creation of user-friendly content that incorporated legal principles, ensuring practicality and applicability.

  • System design within Legal Design could standardize solutions to DAFSV across various dating applications, improving consistency and effectiveness.

Application of Legal Design

In the study, proposals were developed within the scope of Information Design, Product Design and System Design in line with legal solutions.

Autoethnography and
Responses of Dating Apps

Autoethnography involved researcher's exploring and interpreting current systems and solutions through their own experiences.

The research was conducted on 4 dating apps: Bumble, Tinder, Badoo and Lovoo.

Exploration of User Flow
and Safety Features

Since the research was conducted in Germany, the most widely used apps were selected for the study.

In the next step, the prototypes were integrated into the Tinder interface. Because instead of creating a new app design, the goal was to create enhancements that could be added to existing apps. In this way, the typical challenges faced by first-time users of an unfamiliar app were eliminated.

Research Through Design

Prototypes with different interactions were designed for the dating app and the impact on the user was evaluated.

High Fidelity Prototypes

What changed in design after expert review?

  • Information about consent was added to the content.

  • The expressions used in the content changed in a way to underline that the brand cared about user safety.

  • In Concept 2, the hierarchy of the video content shown to the first-time user was changed and redesigned to be seen when the user made the first match.

In terms of visual style, the aim was to take users out of the virtual world and raise awareness of the part of the experience that takes place in the physical environment. For this reason, simple, realistic and engaging visuals were used, rather than fun illustrations as in other apps.

Test with Experts

The expert review suggested some changes to content and interactions.

  • Suggestions included adding information about 'consent', using supportive language and emphasizing safety.

  • In order to avoid negative effects, it was suggested that cautionary content should only be shown to users at the beginning of the app experience.


  • With the exception of concept 4, all concepts received positive feedback.


  • Concept 1 was preferred due to its non-intrusive and easily accessible structure.


  • Concept 3's AI suggestion was found effective but not recommended due to the cost of development.

User Test Findings
  • Participants were not sufficiently aware of the safety features in dating apps.

  • Explicit disclosure of using dating apps was rare, affecting harassment reporting


  • Perceptions of the safety of dating apps varied, with most people seeing them as neither high risk nor completely safe.


  • The propensity to report harassment to the police was low; instead, users were more likely to complain digitally.


  • Concept 3 was the most effective interaction, followed by Concept 1. Recall of the content in Concept 2 was poor.


  • The prototypes informed participants about a variety of topics, including the Halo Effect and legal options against harassment.


  • Most participants wanted to see content about safety and rights on dating apps, but some worried about waning enthusiasm. Male users were also more likely to perceive the experience as safe.

Legal Design for Designers

The thesis explored the field of legal design, which integrates legal perspectives into the design process to address real-world issues.

While legal design focused on user centricity, this thesis took a unique approach by incorporating legal requirements into the design.


The research, which started with a desire to address concrete issues, attracted interest from participants and experts. A roadmap detailing stakeholder engagement for designers was developed.


The thesis process demonstrated the importance for designers to adopt multiple perspectives, including the roles of researcher and systems thinker, and exemplified the practice of legal design.

Low Fidelity Prototypes

In order to develop content recommendations that were legally appropriate to be shown to users, firstly, expert opinion was asked on prototypes.

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