In the online dating industry, LavaLife seems to land somewhere in the middle. While they provide a clear and easy-to-use home page and some unique features, their essential services aren't as strong as its competitors.'
The site offers more than most sites with its free basic membership and fifteen million members, but communication is limited unless you pay to upgrade your service. It does uniquely allow members to respond to emails and instant messages, but not send them. This gives basic members the opportunity to send a "smile" to a member they like and possibly instigate a conversation they can both participate in. Usually the only way to communicate with other members on a dating site is with a paid membership.
At a more affordable price than many of its competitors, LavaLife does provide a quality service with a massive member database. Offering the main services featured at the popular dating sites along with a few of it's own unique tools and options gives LavaLife the ability to compete well within the online dating industry.
The LavaLife profile database includes three distinct categories of matching: Dating, Relationship, and Intimate. Each category has its own unique focus and its own featured members, but you can feel free to explore each category. If you are interesting in playing the field and meeting a lot of new people, you should spend time browsing through the Dating section. For those of you looking to find a long-lasting, love-filled relationship, you should check out the Relationship section. If you are seeking a simply sexual relationship, you can try your luck with the Intimate section. No matter what you are looking for, you will be able to find something that suits your needs. This feature is unique to LavaLife and allows for a more specified search.
Also unique to LavaLife is its "Party" feature. Each and every day, LavaLife hosts five online parties in which members can gather online, meet, chat, connect, and possibly move forward from there. The most interesting part of this Party features is found in its cost: nothing. Even basic members can enjoy the daily Parties at LavaLife as long as they have uploaded a picture to their profile. After the party has ended, participants can even see their popularity ranking amongst the other people in the party.
Another feature at LavaLife, as mentioned above, is allowing its basic members to reply to messages from paying members. Usually, a site will only allow basic members to send "winks" or "smiles" that simply let the person know your interested. With this feature disabled at LavaLife, basic members will be able to instigate communication with pay members at no cost.
LavaLife also offers Speed Dates, a way for its members to meet ten local singles within thirty minutes. Similar to the online parties, members meet online and spend three minutes chatting with each member they are paired with. If there is a connection, they will have option to let the other person know and open up a thread of communication once the session has ended.
The ClickScore feature at LavaLife is a way for members to connect with other members who find interest in the same things. This is a very basic system that simply searches through its members according to the interests you have entered. Although the system does not match for compatibility like some other competing sites, it does allow users to quickly find other people who enjoy similar activities and interests.
Finally, LavaLife provides a forum section where the members of the site can connect and discuss different subjects from dating to movies. Although you don't need to become a paid member to join in the forums, basic members must upload a picture to participate.
The search engine also includes a small problem. When it attempts to match members with other compatible members, it ignores age preferences. This results in search results including people who could be forty years older than you; most people won't consider that a quality match.
Finally, the site seems like it may have a few problems within its billing and customer service departments. At the Better Business Bureau website, LavaLife received a "C" grade due to twenty-seven complaints against it. According to BBB, ten of the twenty-seven complaints were about billing or collections while six of them were about refunds.
At 100BestDatingSites.com, LavaLife received a 5 out of 5 and was ranked number five on their top one-hundred list. No1Reviews.com's editor gave the site a 5 out of 5 while its users gave it a 4.5 out of 5. LavaLife also received a 5 out of 5 from DatingOverview.com. Consumer Search named LavaLife the best casual dating site in 2008 and DatingSites.org gave it a 4.5 out of 5.
Having the ability to communicate with other members on a dating site for free is quite rare. With the chance to reply to paying members' messages, free users can actually communicate and possibly spark a relationship without paying a cent.
LavaLife combines the best of all the dating sites, but still has some problems. It's messaging system has more to be desired and its search engine doesn't include age in its criteria, but overall the site is strong in comparison. You should compare this site with sites like Match.com and Yahoo!Personals, where focus is placed more on member quantity as opposed to quality. With unique features like Parties, love-type categories, and free message response for basic members, LavaLife is a quality site that offers just enough to stand out from the rest.