Snapchat: a brief exploration

I am completely new to Snapchat. I downloaded and registered it a few days ago, although it has been four years already since I first heard about it. I wondered how it is managing to keep growing its user base. So I started a quick exploration of this red-hot social application for myself. Here are my findings :)

Camera as the starting point

Snapchat is straightforward. The camera screen is always the first thing you see after opening it. It feels like it’s the shortcut of the camera itself on iPhone’s locked screen. The one users use when they want to quickly capture the moment right in front of them. The editing afterwards is also quick and simple: swiping to choose a default filter or choosing from among adding stickers, adding caption or doodles on the picture, or short recording. These features though are pretty basic compared to Instagram or other image or video editing applications.

Snaps provisionality

Deletion is the most characteristic feature of Snapchat. After Snap is created, it is sent to one or more friends or added to user’s own story which is visible to all friends. But all the Snaps are going to be deleted automatically after being viewed by others. Users can set the time of their Snaps can be viewed up to 10 seconds. If users really want to keep their snaps longer, there is a download button below to save the snaps on their phone.

Swiping between screens

Snapchat takes a different approach to navigating than most. No menu bar. With camera screen as the main entrance, there are three directions that users can go into, by swiping the screen left, right or down. It requires a little bit of playing around in the beginning, but it is easy to get used to it. And fun as well.

  • Chat: swiping right equals tapping the icon on the left side of recording button, both taking users to feeds of directly sent snaps and messages. And swiping one feed to right takes users to a chat screen with the friend associated with the feed.
Send snap- view snap -chat
  • Stories: likewise, swiping left takes users to Story where users can discover content from different channels. Stories becomes highlight of Snapchat, allowing both individual generated content and third party content to be presented to users. Media channels can definitely take advantages of Snapchat’s fast-growing audience and there is also an opportunity for Snapchat to design better user experience of these channels to draw more viewers in. And that’s where ads come in. And Live Stories is a very smart idea of compiling snapchatters’ stories based on events and location, which is unique experience of viewing live streaming from different perspectives and could generate big social influence. That’s why Live Stories has a large potential to earn big revenue and profits.
Stories main screen
LIve Stories
Media channels
  • Profile: swiping down or tapping the ghost logo, users go to profile screen that actually contains a lot of hidden screens. Settings is a big one, including a long list of items which need to be sorted better, and some I didn’t quite expect, like ‘Snapcash’. Looking at the profile image, it is a good design that embeds GIF into Snapcode and lets you add friends by scanning. Another interesting aspect is Trophies as gamification that enhances the stickiness of Snapchat.
Profile screen
Settings screen
Trophies screen

With the exception of the profile screen, the set of three buttons (chat, recording, stories) stays where they are, regardless what screen users swipe to, with some transparency added. In my case, it does a good job of preventing accidental touches. But really, it only saves one extra swipe.


“In a world in which there is an app for nearly everything, Snapchat has cut through the clutter by injecting fun back into social sharing,” -Cathy Boyle
  • Snapchat is fun, more dedicated for young group who are into fast-paced sharing experience.
  • Snapchat is simple but explorable. Snapping, sharing and discovering form a loop of indulgence.
  • Snapchat focuses on present. The bast is past, no obsolete feeling anymore. Living the moment to the fullest.

Thank for reading! Any comments are welcome!

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