Reflection on Usability, Accessibility, and Ethics: VSCO

Everyone who uses Instagram should be familiar with VSCO, a photo editing app that has taken the world by storm. It empowers and inspires people to create, discover, and connect through its gorgeous filters and editing options. The app’s interface has almost no text to allow anyone to use it regardless of their language. It strives to create a community for expression where people creativity and each person’s voice are valued.

With a compelling mission to tell the story of people’s life and encourage inclusion, VSCO is an app that I will evaluate in terms of its usability based on these 5 principles: Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Errors, and Satisfaction.

Learnability: VSCO achieves the main task of photo-editing with a breeze. The system is clear about what it is doing with the loading icon to communicate image upload in a simple way. When users edit their photos with the filter slider, they can see the changes reflected in the photos. Users can choose preset filters or set the metrics themselves, which could take some time to understand what each metric does in the photos (it’s pretty self-explanatory though). The icons and labels are consistent within the interface so users would feel that the app is cohesive and organized. There are no help instructions in the app, as users can use the app intuitively. The slider is disabled when users choose more than one photo to edit and it is easy for users recognize this as the slider will turn grey.

Efficiency: The homepage interface is intuitive because it only uses two words and five icons for users to take and/or edit their photos. When adding a photo to the users’ studio, as shown on the homepage, users can just press the plus icon. Users can then select filters or adjust the metrics using the slider icon and upload the photos to different social media platform with the upward arrow icon.

Homepage of VSCO

Memorability: The app’s interface is memorable and since there is only one way to edit photos, it is convenient for users to pick the app right back up after a period of not using it even without any instruction.

Errors: It is easy to select the wrong photo to edit or the wrong filter or metrics users want on their photos. However, these errors can be recovered easily by choosing a new image to add to the studio and adjusting the slider to select the desired filter.

Satisfaction: It is super satisfying to use VSCO because it finishes the task in an instant and anyone can learn to edit their photos. With 30 million users, VSCO is the most popular photo-editing app currently.

Regarding accessibility, VSCO does not have any feature for advanced accessibility for people who have some form of disability. As VSCO only exists in the form of a mobile app, it does take motor skills to press the icons correctly in order to achieve the users’ desired effect on their photos. Moreover, users who are visually impaired cannot fully enjoy VSCO as it is an app that is color dependent since it requires users to adjust colors of their photos by themselves. Even with preset filters, users who are visually impaired might not be able to tell the difference between these filters.

VSCO could be an addicting app for users who are obsessed with choosing filters and adjusting photos. However, this addiction gives users instant satisfaction when their photos are being complimented but it does not last long. Moreover, there are no hidden costs in this app. If users want to have more preset filters, VSCO informs the users the price of new filters upfront. With minimal use of text, VSCO includes users, regardless of their languages to enjoy the basic function of creating stunning photos and exercising their creativity.

New filters for purchase
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