With improved security, changes at its executive management level and a newly stylized image, 2016 was a transitional year for Ashley Madison. It is for this reason that we felt that now was a good time to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of the site. This is our Ashley Madison review.
Ashley Madison Review Results
Final Word on Ashley Madison
Obviously, this site is not intended for those people seeking serious long-term relationships. Then again, it never purports to be. Ashley Madison is quite clear about the service that it offers — it does not deceive its members in that way. For those seeking such side affairs, the site seems well designed to provide the results they promote. The pricing model is fair since it's based upon what features you use and how frequently you use them.
In our opinion, Ashley Madison has left its problems behind and is solidly going into the future. If finding an affair is your thing, we rate this site: ABOVE AVERAGE
— Pros and Cons of Ashley Madison —
- Privacy and security has been revamped and strengthened
- Over 53 million members worldwide
- Pay for what you use pricing model saves users money
- Strong messaging functionality
- Monthly charge for use of mobile apps
- Default settings leaves “auto-top off” feature activated
- Message Center is not aesthetically discreet
— In-Depth Ashley Madison Review —
Back in 2015, the hookup site Ashley Madison was hit by a tsunami of bad publicity. A hacking group had broken into the site’s user database and obtained the names of thousands of its members. It was enough to make many users of the site nervous. Undoubtedly, it also adversely impacted new memberships.
Fortunately for the operators of the site, the experience did not bring the site down. To the contrary, it revealed weaknesses that they have since patched. It also brought attention to the site and its stated purpose of facilitating extramarital affairs. In 2016, it revamped its site and made some alterations to its branding. The Ashley Madison tagline of “life is short, have an affair,” which it had used since it launched in 2002, was changed to “find your moment.”
— First Impression of Ashley Madison—
When you first visit the home page of Ashley Madison it is no longer as bold in using imagery to announce its purpose. The homepage is minimalist in design. It allows for people interested in finding hookups to easily and quickly access the registration page.
By clicking on a pink colored button labeled “find your matches” you are taken to the registration page. There you enter personal information such as age, sex, and geographic location. Ashley Madison requires that you provide a valid email address that they will use to verify your registration. This is done by sending you a verification email within minutes of submitting your information. You must then click on a verification link sent in that email. The content of the email explains that your email address is well protected and that it will only be used to verify registration, for password recovery when you so solicit that action, and to communicate information related to the administration your account — essentially, billing.
Once you verify your email your profile goes live on their system — there is no waiting period or screening. Ashley Madison only screens private photos that are posted on the site. These may take up to 24 hours to be reviewed.
In our testing, the initial registration process did not take more than five minutes.
— Difference Between What Male and Female Members See —
There is a distinct difference in what men see on the site as opposed to women. The member page is structured similarly in terms of functionality, but women do not see reminders or enticements to pay for features. This is because Ashley Madison offers women full use of the site’s features for free. Men must pay in order to gain full functionality.
Also, some of the labeling used for the features of male paid members and women members is different. For example, men who pay for membership are provided with features called “Priority Man” and “Traveling Man.”
“Priority man” gives men the chance to appear in the number three spot of the search results page of women who were searching for men whose criteria they match. There is no equivalent feature on the female side. The “Traveling Man” feature allows men to indicate to the site when they are traveling to a location different from their place of residence in order to search for women in that area seeking discreet relationships. The female section has an identical feature.
— Appearance of Messaging Station —
Our female testers made mention of the fact that they found the design of the messaging section of the site to be indiscreet in appearance. They worried that if they were at a coffee shop — or anywhere else public — it would be too easy for passers-by to see what was on their screen. They were of the opinion that the logo should be less prominent and that it should have a more generic look.
— Ashley Madison Mobile Apps —
There are both iPhone and Android mobile apps for Ashley Madison. While these apps are free to download, they require payment of a monthly $19 “mobile discretion fee.” If you do not pay this fee you cannot use the mobile apps. This was disappointing.
— Cancelling and Deleting Accounts —
Cancelling your Ashley Madison account results in your profile and message history being deactivated. This has always been free. Account deletion —which involves all images, messages and profile data being physically deleted from all Ashley Madison servers — used to have a cost attached that the member had to pay. There is still a lot of information online that reports this as a continuing policy. The reality is that as of January 2017, full account deletion on the site is absolutely free. We found this to be true in our testing and it is collaborated in writing in the site’s terms and conditions.
— Cost of Ashley Madison —
Since Ashley Madison uses a pay-per-action model, users must purchase a basket of points. 100 points cost $63.00. Larger blocks of points can be purchased at a discount. A 1,000-point block costs $309.
It costs 5 points for a man to send a message to a woman. 10 points if they choose to use the “priority” module which highlights the message on the woman’s inbox.
To be able to fully open messages sent to them by a woman there is also a 5 point charge. Instant chat sessions, which include webcam if the parties so choose, cost 30 points for a 30-minute session and 50 points for a 60-minute session.
Men can also choose from a variety of virtual gifts that they can send to women. These range in price.
There is an optional monthly add-on that can be purchased for $19 per month that allows men to continuously engage in conversations started by women for free. This add-on is included for free for the first 30 days of the membership.
— Auto-Top Off Feature —
Just like other dating sites that leave the “auto-renewal feature on for their monthly subscription, Ashley Madison does the same with their “auto-top off” of points. If users do not turn this setting off, every time their point balance drops below 15 they will be charged for the purchase of an additional 100 points. Honestly, these sort of tactics are so annoying.
— The Free Version for Men —
The free version made available to men allows users to see, but not use, all of the features on the site. These include the aforementioned “priority man” and “traveling man,” and also member search, message box, instant message platform and the virtual gift sending module.
Men cannot initiate contact with women on the free version. The only way to send a message or request an instant chat is to pay for the privilege using a points system.