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Technology should make our lives easier
• Over 7 million registered profiles so large database of users in the USA
• Good system to filter out people not serious about the site
• Different Hot Lists where you can see who is checking you out
• Cluttered interface with too many icons
• Pricing plans are hidden until you are signed up to the site
Spark.com is a large dating site that provides a good service for casual daters or people looking for a serious relationship, all whilst aiming to put an emphasis on the fun that can be had using online dating.
Spark.com is one of the biggest online dating sites, with over 7 million registered users, and has recently taken over AmericanSingles.com to increase its membership further. Described by the website as a ‘fun site for serious daters’, the site nicely bridges the gap between fun dating and serious relationships, and as always with such a large database of users, there is a good chance of finding either here.
There is a very simple sign up process with Spark.com. There are a couple of short forms to fill in with your basic details, a few multiple choice questions to answer about yourself and then you have access to much of the site. There is also a colour coded personality test which is designed to help you find similar personalities, and to help them to find you. Users much upload a photo within 72 hours of sign up, which means that fake profiles or people who aren’t serious about the site are filtered out.
The search function on Spark.com is very comprehensive, giving users a Quick Search or Advanced Search option. The quick search is based simply on age and location, where as the advanced search allows users to set a number of different parameters, for example ethnicity, religious beliefs, height, body style and languages spoken.
As well as the standard email facilities, Spark.com has some nice little features to help you get in touch with other users, and make your online dating a little more comfortable. For example, there is a fun Secret Admirer feature when you are searching through users, where Spark.com will suggest users that they think you may be interested in. If you are, you ‘confide’ with the site by clicking yes, and if you the other user also clicks yes, you will receive a notification that you both said yes! This may be useful to users who are a little less confident about contacting people, but in reality this is just a feature that adds an element of fun and mystery to the online dating experience.
There is a also a Flirt feature which allows you to send a pre-written one-liner to a potential match. There are almost 60 one-liners to choose from, and these are sorted into different categories such as Flirtatious, Sincere, Movie Lines, Songs etc. Again this is more of a fun feature but can be useful for people who find that initial contact difficult.
Free members can reply to emails that are sent by a subscribed member, but cannot initiate that level of contact.
Spark.com contains a great section with useful dating safety tips (meeting in a public place etc.), and provides information for reporting any suspicious behaviour. Users can modify a lot of the privacy features, which includes hiding your profile from certain members, blocking members from emailing/instant messaging you, and you can also control the messages sent to you by Spark.com.
Ease of use
The user interface on Spark.com could do with a little refinement, as currently there are too many icons around the page, including some sections that look like they could be advertisements from other sites (such as the dating safety tips). It is easy enough to navigate the site, but it just feels a bit cluttered when compared to some of the more streamlined sites we have reviews.
Help & support
There is a comprehensive help section that is nicely presented and covers all aspects of the website. If this isn’t enough, you can contact the site directly via email or by phoning a toll-free number. For users outside the US, there is a contact form you can send to their Beverly Hills Headquarters.
Spark.com aims to make online dating fun, and achieves this through its neat features such as Secret Admirer, Flirting and the Hot Lists. It also takes online dating seriously, and helps filter out fake profiles and time-wasters, whilst also doing a good job of promoting dating safety. The interface is a bit cluttered and they would do well to streamline this a bit to help users search for potential matches more easily, but overall this is a dating site that knows what its users wants, and provides a quality service.
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