Snapchat: The Ever-changing App
Cerejo, L. (2010). Design better and faster with rapid prototyping.
Ehmke, B. (2013). Fake it. Trash it. Build it.
Rapid Prototyping; Designer; Engineer; Prototype>Review>Refine; User Experience
“The value of design doesn’t really live in code, or a wireframe, or a mockup for that matter. The value of design is a vision of what could be. So, even if we trash work, it’s not wasted” (Ehmke, p.3).
“We don’t hand marching orders to engineers, and we don’t give magical wands to designers”(Ehmke, p.4)
A common theme amongst both readings was the concern for the user and the user’s experience. Our goal as designers or engineers is to create something that people want to use. Snapchat completely revolutionized the concept of social media when they introduced a mobile-only app that allows users to share video and picture that would only last a short period of time. While the length of these pictures and videos is what initially drew people to the app, Snapchat’s rapid prototyping and constant consideration for the user allowed it quickly become popular.
The above images are only some of the features that Snapchat introduced to its users within the last few years. The first was taking in consideration for the user wanting to have the ability to easily add friends on Snapchat. As a social media application, users interacting with each on the app is incredibly important to their success. In the beginning, users had to search by username to find their friends and add them. When Snapchat introduced “Snapcode”, users had an a much easier way of adding friends. Even more than that, this Snapcode has allowed for celebrities and business to get users to add them a lot easier.
The second image shows how Snapchat transformed the concept of the SnapStory over time. The first was allowing users to choose between having their story seen by only friends or by anyone. This helped blow up the use of stories by celebrities and business because users no longer needed to add users back in order for their story to be seen. This then lead to more people following others on Snapchat than simply adding friends. This called for another change in the SnapStories where users can now load and watch multiple SnapStories with the ease of simply tapping on the screen. The third element, that I use the most in fact, is the ability for users to save their own SnapStories. While these images are fleeting for their fellow users, they can keep videos and images for themselves to enjoy later. Users now have the freedom to keep what they create or leave it as a short-lived memory.
The third image then shows how Snapchat introduced a one-of a kind of feature that no other app could replicate. Up to this point, other applications such as Instagram were trying to create their own version of Snapchat. To help differentiate themselves and keep users interested in Snapchat, they introduced the face filters. Using facial recognition from the smartphone’s front-facing camera, users could apply a filter to their face. This quickly blew up and over time Snapchat had to make adjustments to accommodate user feedback. The first was the mistake of getting users to pay for the ability to use certain filters, it was so popular they hoped to make money off of it. They quickly learned that users were not willing to pay. The next was picking the right filters to provide for its users. There were many times when Snapchat over-stepped and received cultural backlash for a filter choice.
As I mentioned throughout my post, Snapchat is highly considerate of user feedback and makes constant changes to its design. But this constant change has lead to many mis-steps along the way. Do you think that them constantly changing their design is hurting them at all? Facebook has been consistent for a long time and I know when they made huge changes to their layout and profile structure, people were freaking out. Snapchat seems to be doing that almost every month, do you think that is confusing for users? Do you think that they shouldn’t be changing things as quickly as they do? Or is this just the nature that they have created for themselves and they have to stick to it?
Another thing I think about when it comes to this is the age range of its users. Not a lot of older generations are using the application. Do you think that these changes are what is contributing to the alienation of older generations using the application? If not, what do you think it could be that is keeping them from wanting to use such a popular smartphone application?