This is how I wish Snapchat redesigned the app…
On an earnings call last year, Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel said the company’s popular mobile app needs to be easier to use in order to appeal to a wider audience. While the young crowd that makes up the majority of the user base has grown accustomed to the app’s unconventional interface, older generations have found it confusing. Making good on their promise, Snapchat recently rolled out a new design that has been making some noise with long-time users… and not the good kind.
Pretty much across the board, users say they dislike the changes. On iOS App Store, the update has an average rating of 1.8 out of 5. Yikes… Usually, when a popular application has a major facelift, it’s met with a good amount of negativity. Remember when Facebook created the Activity Feed? People don’t like change, but if the design is sound, it’s just a matter of time before everyone gets used to it.
I, for one, think this latest update is a step in the right direction. I like how things are now organized with friends, content, search, and memories each with their own tab/direction in the app. Before, there were elements of each in all of the tabs, muddying the water for new users.
What I think is frustrating people is that even though everything is now in clearly defined buckets, there seems to be no organization within those buckets. The good news is, there are some super simple changes Snapchat could implement that I think would make this overhaul really stick.
If you swipe right from the main screen, you now have the ‘Friends’ tab where all stories and chats live together. Here’s the twist though: stories are now incorporated into the chat list. If I press on the story thumbnail, I can watch the story; if I press anywhere else, it takes me to chat. That’s the type of confusing stuff the update was supposed to fix. Snapchat popularized stories, but it feels like they switched things up as an intentional ‘F you’ to Instagram.
I think stories and chats can live in the same tab, but be separate from each other. This still makes sense as far as organization and also makes it easier for new users to visually distinguish between stories and chat. At the same time, it keeps some familiarity for the app’s long-time users.
Swiping left from the main screen brings you to the new ‘Discover’ tab, which lets you explore Snapchat’s unique form of news and content. If this tab works well, Snap can bring in more ad dollars and also appeal to content creators. The app could eventually become the YouTube of mobile media.
The problem is, everything is lumped together into one feed! Can you imagine going onto YouTube and only being able to scroll through one list of videos? An easy fix is to have quick filters at the top of the feed. ‘Popular’ would show trending content while other filters could be customized to match the user’s interests. This one feels like a no-brainer to me…
Finally, we have ‘Search’ which you can get to by swiping down from the main screen. What I like about the update is that it makes the map easier to find. Before, you had to pinch from the main camera screen to access the map; now it’s more front and center in the search screen. I think the map could eventually become a huge part of the app, incorporating augmented reality and business advertisements.
However, similar to the ‘Discover’ tab, everything below the map is one big list with no way of categorizing. The old search tab had filters to see what’s going on nearby, sporting events, concerts, you name it; in my updated mockups, I bring those back. This makes it easier for any user looking for something in particular. Isn’t that the reason someone would use a search tab to begin with?
Again, I actually like the overall redesign quite a bit. I just feel like Snapchat could have done an extra 5% better to keep their user base from throwing a fit. Who knows, maybe someone from Snapchat’s design team will see this and make some new updates :)