Snapchat Tag: A Feature Concept for Snapchat

Share your story, better.

A Brief Introduction

I’m a huge fan of Snapchat. I mean c’mon, who isn’t. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s fun.

At its core, I use Snapchat to share my story with other people. And for the most part, it does a great job of helping me do that. But there’s just one tiny thing that I wish Snapchat would do…

The Problem

Imagine this:

You’re out with Jack [or insert name of token friend] on a backpacking trip in Oregon. It’s sunny with a high of 83°F and low of 65°F (perfect backpacking weather). You’re all set to pioneer the trails and fulfill your destiny of becoming the quintessential rugged American from an Ernest Hemingway novel.
But suddenly, a rare White Faced Deer appears on your path. You marvel at its beauty and fall into a deep existential crisis about the implications of your trip on the forest around you.
Meanwhile Jack, being the asshole he is, decides to take out his phone and put the deer on his Snapchat Story. The animal hears the shutter of Jack’s camera, sees you two, and runs away.
But wait a minute, why does Jack get to share the deer with his friends and not you? I mean, you were both there! Just because you didn’t get your phone out and take a picture doesn’t mean you weren’t a part of the story Jack is telling.

And that’s the problem.

Snapchat is currently set up to only tell one-dimensional stories from the perspective of a single narrator. But that’s not how life works.

Stories are constructed about and by multiple people, to tell compelling tales from different and new perspectives.

Snapchat fails to leverage the network each user has to connect people in new and exciting ways. If my real life story involves both Jack and I, why can’t my Story do the same?

The Concept

The core idea behind Snapchat Tag is to encourage users to collaborate with their friends to tell better stories.


The feature works by letting users tag their friends in Snaps they send or the Stories they post. Tagged friends then get alerted when they are tagged in a photo and can choose to forward the Snap to one of their friends or post it to their own Story.

Taking the Picture

Wait Wait live recording in Ann Arbor!

I decided to leave this process the exact same as before, since the core experience of taking pictures and capturing moments has nothing to do with attaching those moments with other users.

Editing the Picture


This is where the first big change shows up.

Most of the screen would look familiar to users, all except the ‘+’ in the top right. This is the button to begin tagging friends in pictures.

My Reasoning: I ran through many iterations of possible buttons for the tag feature, but they all felt too clunky or out of place. I ultimately decided on the ‘+’ icon because it works great in context. Since icons are always placed in front of pictures, they need to stand out and work with a wide range of backgrounds. Adding too many strokes to the icon detracts from its functionality and decreases its visibility to users in a large number of cases. The ‘+’ icon manages to both convey the relevant information and stay visible and clear in nearly all backgrounds.
Also, the icon to add new friends also contains a ‘+’ and could potentially confuse users, but after weighing the expected frequency of use of both buttons, I decided that both icons existed in different enough contexts that users could figure out their meaning from the rest of the screen, but I could be wrong!

Tagging Friends

Pressing the tag button brings this screen up from the bottom, while maintaining the original picture in the background for reference.

The prompt itself is (hopefully) relatively straightforward:

  1. Scroll through your friends list (organized by ‘Best Friends’, ‘Recents’, and ‘All’) to find the friends you want to tag.
  2. Check the box (or star) on the right to select.
  3. Press ‘Done’!
My Reasoning: The most important part about tagging is to keep it as simple as possible. There were a lot of potentially different ways to approach this (e.g. physically tagging your friends in the picture so the tag identifies where they are). But at present, the way Snapchat is structured around doesn’t allow for viewers of snaps to easily benefit from complicated tagging systems without detracting from the core experience of sharing and looking at other peoples stories (e.g. if each snap tagged where users were in the picture, how would a viewer access it? By clicking? Doesn’t that change to the next snap? What about a constantly hovering bubble of text above tagged spots? Doesn’t that detract from the picture itself?).
Since the goal of ‘Tag’ was to simply connect peoples stories, I think just adding them to the snap, instead of placing them on a particular point on the screen, is just as meaningful as any other option.

After the Tag

After you’ve tagged your friends in a snap, the ‘+’ button near the top changes to purple and displays the number of people’s you’ve added to the picture.

After this, you’re all set to send the snap out as before!

My Reasoning: Reference and feedback on actions is super important, especially when it’s hard to see the live effect of your actions. Letting users know that tagging did change something and just showing the number of friends they’ve tagged helps connect their actions on a new feature to its effects.

Receiving the Snapchat Tag

On the flip side, here’s what it looks like if you’ve been tagged in a snap:

Once you’ve been tagged, you get a notification to head over to your ‘Stories’ page. Here, right below the ‘Live’ feed and above ‘Recent Updates’ you can find all the snaps you’ve been tagged in!

My Reasoning: I had a tough time deciding whether the Tagged Snap should exist on the ‘Stories’ page or the main feed. While I don’t think the answer is clear, I decided on the ‘Stories’ page for a few reasons:
1. The main feed is transient limited by views: The main feed exists to share content limited by views. The ‘Stores’ page contains snaps that are limited by time sensitivity. Both are transient in their own ways, but since a ‘Tagged Snap’ is limited by time sensitivity (for the person tagged), they exist on the ‘Stories’ page.
2. Tags != Snaps: Snaps on the main feed are a way of talking to someone. Tags, on the other hand, are a way to talk with someone.
3. ‘Stories’ is about other people: While the main feed is solely about you and what other people have said to you, ‘Stories’ is focused around the lives of other people and what they’re up to. Even though you are in them, Tagged Snaps are by other people, thus they fit better in the context of the ‘Stories’ page.

Passing it along

Tagged Snaps wouldn’t be useful if you couldn’t integrate them into your stories as well, so that’s the next step!

When you click on a Tagged Snap, it brings you straight to this page where:

  1. You are constantly aware of who has tagged you
  2. You can immediately add some more edits, tag more people, and send it along to your friends!
My Reasoning: Since the main purpose of Tags is to potentially pass along Snaps to your network, I decided to cut out the middle screen that lets users view a Tagged Snap and then decide to edit and instead went straight to the editing screen. To implement this better, I changed out the ‘x’ in the top-left corner for a back button, since that is more representative of the action. This allows users to also just view Tagged Snaps but have the immediate ability to edit it and pass it along to their friends.

Putting it All Together

And that’s it!

That covers the main parts of this feature and it’s implementation. Some awesome benefits of this are:

  1. Tell Better Stories: Snapchat is all about telling stories. But stories aren’t linear — they’re complicated networks of people coming together. Creating a way to replicate those networks greatly enhances the stories.
  2. Leverage Your Friends: Telling stories is hard. Telling good stories is harder. Using your friends to tell more connected and thoughtful narratives, from multiple perspectives, allows users to tell better stories.

Even though Snapchat is already telling millions of stories daily, tagging has a huge potential to connect and take advantage of sprawling friend networks. Whether it’s tagging people in Snaps, or finding new friends through Tags, there’s room for Snapchat to build itself into a better and more connected story telling platform.

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If you have any questions/comments/feedback or want to talk more about, this feel free to shoot me message below or on Twitter @momazhari. I’d love to hear from you :)

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