Why Snapchat is getting so popular?

Even though it has a quite complicated user interface…

This week I was once again involved in a conversation about Snapchat and how it’s getting massively adopted by a lot of people, specially the young generation. Then, I decided to share what I believe is the reason behind it.

The main question here is, how can a hard-to-use product be so successful?

Because it's solving the real-time sharing "problem" in a way no other social network do. Facebook decides what to show to whom. You probably don't want to share one post each minute there, you would probably get fewer and fewer likes if you tried to do so. Instagram is kinda the same, you normally post the best shot you have within a list of pictures you end up keeping for yourself. Those social networks make you think twice before posting, Snapchat doesn't require that extra effort. Post anything there, tomorrow it's going to be erased anyway. I guess that's the magic around it.

"But how about my memories? How can I see my videos/images later?"

Save a copy to your device, share the things as they happen. That's it. I think it's brilliant how Snapchat changed the way our content is delivered to friends. It makes us feel less concerned about being a perfectionist. We can post a crappy photo there, because, again, it's going to be removed anyway. After all, we just want our followers to know what we are experiencing at that particular moment.

How about the interface, why is it so hard to use?

I think they've tried to make the app look like a game, you have to figure out how stuff works by yourself. The features are most of the times hidden somewhere, you have to explore in order to find them. Old people don't seem to be happy with this, though, but on the other hand the new generation is loving it.

What is interesting here is that the UX proposition of Snapchat goes completely agains a lot usability principles. Does it mean it's doomed to fail? I don't think so. I believe their audacity is transforming the way people interact with each other online. That's impacting our society and I'm amazed by the idea of trying to understand it.

My conclusion?

Snapchat is successful because it allow us to easily share our real-time experiences. The hard-to-use aspect is something inherited by their gamification approach, which seems not to affect the popularity of the app anyway. I think Snapchat is challenging the status quo of the so-called term User Experience. Don't you agree? I'm really interested in hearing what people think about it.

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