Feature Proposal: Designing Playlists for Snapchat Stories

Two weeks ago, the ISU World Figure Skating Championships were held in Helsinki, Finland. Since I am a figure skating nerd, I follow multiple skaters on their personal Snapchat accounts. A lot of Snapchat Story updates happen around the time of a competition, and all I wanted was to see Stories of the skaters I care about together in one place. Instead, I had to manually pick my way through a slew of Stories in my feed, selecting Stories one by one each time there was an update. This led me into thinking about how Snapchat Stories could be better organized to increase the user’s enjoyment and ease of access.

Introduction

Snapchat Stories are collections of pictures and videos posted to a user’s feed over the course of a 24-hour period. They allow friends to build and share narratives that show different parts of their day to day life. Celebrities, Youtube personalities, and other people who have a large following also use Stories to share their lives and connect with fans. As more and more people are posting and viewing Stories, Snapchat’s current individual list format may benefit from a little more structure.

Overview of Problems

There’s no way to save Stories selections

Currently, to view multiple user’s Stories, you have to scroll through your extensive list of friends’ Stories, manually select the ones you’re interested in, and then press the play button to view through them. You have to go through this process every time you want to view a playlist of Stories, as there is no way to save which user’s Stories you’re interested in.

I like being able to selectively view stories, but can this process be automated?

Stories aren’t sorted by relevance

“I have a lot friends on Snapchat, but I just want to see stories of my close friends. I don’t care about what a lot of other people are doing.” — My sister, a high school sophomore

Stories are currently listed in order of recent updates, with the most recently updated story at the top. However, the most recently updated story may not be the one you are most interested in. In fact, you may find it entirely irrelevant.

Sorry Bob, but who are you again?

There’s a lack of context when viewing through Stories

Finally, there is the issue of context. Snapchat Stories may contain Stories from both mutual friends and celebrities/influencers — two very different spaces. You might be bored to tears looking at another snap of your friend’s salad concoction but be intrigued as to exactly what kind of fruits Cassey Ho (Blogilates) puts in her smoothies to maintain her body. Right now, Stories from friends who you converse and interact with and Stories from public figures that you just watch are mixed together, creating confusing and sometimes jarring context switches.

Why am I looking at a picture of a dead tree…WAIT VINCENT ZHOU POSTED THIS I LOVE TREES

Proposed Solution: Playlists

Rewind two weeks back to the Figure Skating Championships. There was an official “Our Story” for the event, but I just wanted to watch the stories of the people that I followed. If only there was some way for Snapchat to remember the accounts that I had selected to watch together, and some way for me to access them whenever I wanted…

Let users create their own Stories Playlists

You’re only interested in stories from your besties? Create a playlist for that. You want to view all your Youtubers’ snaps in one go? Put them all together in a playlist.

Playlists is a proposed feature that would allow users to curate their story feed by prioritizing relevant stories and also organizing them into context-specific groups.

I brainstormed some ideas and sketched out my wireframes. Below are the hi-fi mocks for Playlists on the Stories page, as well as the flow for creating a Playlist.

Playlists are listed above the rest of the Story updates so you can access them first. Once one user in a playlist updates their story, you’ll see it in your feed. You won’t get a notification though, since it’s just a story, but you’ll be able to view it during the 24-hour period.

You can upload your own picture for the playlist to personalize it under settings.

Using the same interaction pattern as individual Snapchat Stories, long press on the row to get more information about your playlist. Here you have the option of seeing which users you’ve included in your playlist, add more users, and share your playlist with your friends.

How to create a Playlist

You can go about creating playlists in two ways. The first way occurs when you are manually selecting which stories to view. Once you have selected them, you can long press the play button to create a playlist. Give it a name, save it, and bam, next time anyone in that playlist updates their story, it’ll be automatically added to your playlist.

So what if you want to make a playlist but those users haven’t updated their story yet so you can’t select them? No worries, you can edit which user’s Stories are in your playlist in the more info pop up and choose from anybody on your friends list.

Process flow of creating a Playlist
You can also upload a picture to the group under Settings to customize it

What’s the impact for the users?

  • Minimize manual effort of reselecting Stories. Users don’t have to make the conscious effort of picking and choosing which Stories to watch.
  • Better way to organize friends’ Stories. Bob updates his Story like clockwork on the hour so his Story is always the first one you see, but he only ever posts snaps of his hamster and quite frankly you’ve seen enough. What you really want is to see what your homies are up to, and make sure they’re not leaving you out on another late night Wendy’s run.
  • View Stories with context. Even before you click on the Playlist you have an idea of what kind of content to expect. You know it’s probably safe to view your #aestheticBrunch Playlist during coffee break but you might want to save your KPOPCONCERTS!! Playlist for later.

What’s the impact for the company?

  • More data about users. Based on what playlists the user created, Snapchat can offer more relevant content, whether that’s through suggested friends or Discover.
  • Target specific ad content. There’s opportunity to show ads that users might actually be interested in. For example, having an ad for That Exact Same Shade of Eyeshadow after a Youtube Beauty Guru Playlist.

Conclusion

With the number of Snapchat Stories continually growing, having a way to organize and prioritize them becomes increasingly important as well. Of course, there are also the Snapchat users who don’t care about Stories at all. In fact, when I pitched this idea to some of my friends, they didn’t really know how to react because they don’t view Stories in the first place. (And that’s another problem. How do you get people to become interested in posting and watching Stories?) But for the user who is frustrated due to the lack of organization and control, Playlists is a way for them to get the most out of their Snapchat Stories experience.