SnapChat Usability Test

SnapChat is a popular photos and videos sharing app. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view. A photo only have 1-10 seconds of life. And videos sent to a friend after watching will be destroyed.


By two Group basic task analysis of the usability problems SnapChat . The test got four iPhone and Android users, they have habits of using IM and social apps, but not used SnapChat. Testing software version 9.4.0, test device for iPhone 5c.

Test Tasks

I found the testers will explore the app simply like they use other apps by some pre-test. Such as, swipe the pages repeatly and try to use some function. But in the real sence is different. As for an IM app, a new SnapChat user is may informed by friends. Their patience is higner then using other apps’. And few users will skip the process of add friends from contacts during the login. Therefore, in the design of test tasks, not only pay attention to the ease of tasks, but also as real as possible to keep the context.

Group 1: interface after the login is complete, there is unread snap remind

  1. View an unread snap.
  2. Open the chat page.
  3. Take a photo.
  4. Edit the time limit.
  5. Send the photo.

Group 2: a SnapChat friends add them

  1. View the added message.
  2. Chat with a friend.

Test Results

I set the phone to the status of the task interface and give it to each testers. I describe the current scene by a brief talk, for example, the first group to explore after the login process, the second group for testers to receive an added friends messager. The whole process were recorded using QuickTime for Mac. And I will record testers’ feeling with pen and paper. After testers finish their test tasks, I sort out the results finally.

The test results as follows:

  • (√) means completed successful.
  • (-) means completed but not favorably.
  • (×) means completed or completed very hard.

Task 1.1

After the login process is completed, users can see the first screen is the camera interface. Due to there is clear unread message in the corner, all testers have sucessfully entered the snap list. But they puzzled to the interaction of viewing of the unread message. All testers try to Tap the cell first, and the correct way is Touch an Hold. Although testers quickly understand the correct way via text, only one tester who noticed the countdown on top right corner and complete reading 30 seconds about the using introduction. Two testers were release with their finger after hold a few seconds. They noticed the countdown according to several times. Another tester hold twice to give up the operation and directly enter to the next task. Apparently, he didn’t notice the countdown and are no interested about the video.

Task 1.2

Testers when viewing unread message realized that tapping doesn’t function. But tapped, the cell will be moved right and testers understand the correct interaction is swiping right. And text alo help they in understanding. In this task, all testers have sucessfully entered the chat page.

Task 1.3

Whether it’s opened from chat page or homepage, each testers puzzled to the interaction of taking photo. Before clearing the remind, users cann’t take photo when “Tap to take a photo, Hold to take a video” showed in default page. Each testers have multiple tap the shutter but no result, and even a tester who have an inability to understand the reason of it and left the camera interface. Finally, after waiting a moment and tap repeatedly until the remind disappear, testers completed the task.

Task 1.4

This operation is in the editing page after taking. Three testers quickly find the icon and set the time limit because of the digital. Another testers try to tap the time to enter his operation after setting, but he quickly understand the correct way.

Task 1.5

The send button is an animation icon, and placed on a different corner with other editing icon. So, each testers can quickly find the send button. But in the selecting page after tapping, there is one tester didn’t see the Next button as a result of no select any way. He try to tap the Adding icon on top right but it’s a invalid operation.

Task 2.1

There are two problem about viewing unknown infographic.

Three testers see the lock screen message notification and directly swipe into the unread message page. But after seeing the news, they have tried to tap the “has been added” button on right side. In fact, at this time, tap the button will undo the operation of adding friend, and the icon will change to “to be added” button aftet tapping. All three testers were repeatedly tap it twice or more, realizing that this operation is invalid before giving tap. At this time, the notification doesn’t need to operate and user just can exit the page.

There are one tester unlock the screen and tap the icon to enter SnapChat. At this time, the notification at the top of homepage. Original reansparent background icon turns yellow only. But this tester had not realized it was a new unread message. He found the correct way when swiped a few pages. After entering the unread message page, he is still the same as the other three testers, puzzled to the interaction of added.

Task 2.2

After viewing the notification, all testers try to tap the cell to open the chat page. But it’s not a error way. Only one tester quickly found the button of chatting on top left in snap list page. Two testers tried to explore in contacts page first, and found the correct way after a moment. Another tester viewed page repeatedly but could not find the correct way, and then take a photo to send friend finally.

Analysis and suggestions

After seven test tasks, the testers’ impression of SnapChat is not good. There are not unrelated with the interaction of SnapChat. If there is an adequate guide and clear enough operation, new users can quickly get started a new interactive application, but apparently SnapChat didn’t do a good job.

1. The beginners guide is not clear.

SnapChat not say no beginners guide but it in the chats showed to the user several times. It’s not friendly. For users who never used SnapChat, they view the unread message action is vague and cann’t expect that they will complete reading inside hte content.

During the login process, users may have no patience to spend time viewing the guide page or video. It’s a correct way to let them experience the app as soon as possible. So, the beginners guide more suited to show in the specified scene (as shown below) which will help users to quickly understand the interactions.

In addition, the operation of homepage is also difficult to avoid ambiguity. Tap to close the remind or given a close button, there are effective solution.

2. Icon means unknown

SnapChat many interface design with a full screen display, but let the focus becomes more scattered to a certain extent. At this time the bright and clear operational meaning finger tips or button becomes very important. For example :

  • In the photo or video viewing page, the top right corner of the countdown for new users difficult to find. Although it’s possible to guide the user to tell, but improve its visibility is more effective .
  • Unread friends added notification’s feature is smaller than unread chats or stories. The icon is not the same. If the icon unify, users will be more likely to accept the message.
  • In the messages page, the button of “has been added” easy to understand “to be added”. In this scene, users need only to view notification without feedback. Cancel the button is to decrease users’ ambiguous.

Re-examine the icons’ visibility and starting again from the real scene to find problem, I believe it will improve user experience of SnapChat a lot.

Click here to see the Chinese version.