Snapchat’s redesign led to a strong backlash: Here is what we learned

Promatics Technologies
5 min readMay 2, 2018

We all are aware of the redesign of Snapchat earlier this year and the amount of criticism it received from users. The fans of Snapchat are pleading to reverse the changes. But why such a strong backlash? Redesign of an app is supposed to take it forward. What went wrong?

The Evan Spiegel led company redesigned the app recently, which made it difficult for many of its users to find and use their favorite features. There are some significant changes to the layout of the app. The new version seems to create a clear distinction between ‘social’ and ‘media’. Experts believe that such big updates can take a little time to get used to. Besides redesigning the app, there are a fewer additions to the features as well.

Let’s reflect upon the whole fiasco — why users disliked Snapchat Redesign, what are the features they disliked and what lessons to learn from it.

Why users disked it?

People who regularly use your app become experienced and tend to depend on routine behaviors. They don’t care much about the design as long as it is solving their purpose. Their primary focus will be on the task, content, documents and data, instead of the design.

People tend to love the design when they know about all the features and locate them without much effort. The majority of users prefer a well-known and familiar design. Anytime, the company releases a new design — people start blaming the company. It is a law of nature that people hate change and they complain every time you try to do something different.

It is always better to redesign the app with gentle changes, rather than switching to a fresh design. Use techniques such as agile paper prototype, rapid iterative design etc to explore the design space and enhance user experience.

What features they dislike?

The new design of Snapchat is leaving some users frustrated and confused. As said above, the significant changes to the app disappointed a large number of fans — who are calling to reverse the changes. However, it is not possible as the company has some big plans behind the ‘Redesign’. Here is the list of features dislikes by users of Snapchat –

Till now, social media has post from friends, content creators and publishers. The new version has separated social from media, which blurred the lines between friends and content creators.

As a part of new design, snapchat eliminated the stories page inside the app. Instead, it has shifted all the user posts and messages in one section — — and kept the publisher content in a separate section. The main idea behind this is to lower the bar for what is considered worthy, so that users don’t feel under-pressure when posting on a big platform.

The snapchat app still lands on camera making it easier to take pictures and videos.But all the messages, stories and photos will go live on one page. On the other hand, the camera screen has a ‘Discover’ page with branded content from professional content creators and publishers. Thoughit is not a big change, it could upset dedicated users.

The redesign also includes a “Dynamic Friends Page”, which can be accessed to the left of camera along with stories and chats. This page uses a sophisticated version of algorithm — so that the users don’t have to scroll and search for people they often talk with. However, the users may take some time to learn how to organize the list.

Besides this, the “Discover Page” on the right hand side of the camera will show the snapchat accounts you have subscribed to, brining personalized content on the page.

How Snapchat can pacify its users?

Snapchat Redesign has been criticized by people that it is not intuitive and difficult to navigate, dragging active users below estimates. There are few things that are liked/disliked by the users.

Snapchat’s redesigned app shows an effort to control over advertising on the platform. The changes are likely to benefit some users, while some users are confused. Users will now need to swipe right, instead of left — which is obviously not a big leap. Many people showed their disappointment, as they are not able to see the stories of people they follow.

The change that is well received by the users is the scrollable feed that helps users to find relevant content in a better and engaging way. Snapchat saw a rise of 0.66% in technology stocks, which shows its confidence in the new app. The company is expecting the user base to grow in coming months.

Snapchat’s old and new design comparison

Snapchat influencers will no longer have the same identity, and they now feel that the platform is not as strong as it was before the update. Snapchat is trying to draw agencies to use its advertising platform and there are several ways to retain its individuality. The success of Snapchat’s Redesign will depend on the content that is updated on Discover Page and how it uses the content for advertiser’s benefit.

According to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, “it will take time for the community to get used to the changes. We are willing to take risk for what we believe as long-term benefit for our business.”The company also asked users to give a chance and says, “It is not possible to revert the previous version of Snapchat.”

Learnings from the ‘Redesign’ episode

Snapchat is a platform for private communication between family and friends, and not a place for social interaction. It has attracted many young fans because of its unique features and products. It is a known fact that snapchat has struggled a lot to reach this position. User base has shown a considerable growth in the recent months.

For Snapchat, redesigning the app is all about highlighting its strength and giving its features a chance to breathe. The company is taking a bigger step in professional content creation by expanding its ‘Discover’ feature to allow more content to show on user feeds. This feature will not only expand content from Snapchat’s content partners, but also from verified celebrities. The content will be reviewed by a team, before showing up on ‘Discover’.

Snapchat app redesign is no doubt a definite improvement, as it made the app sleek and much simpler. It hasn’t changed in the way of functionality, but changed in terms of the way you use it. The redesign makes snapchat visually appealing and makes it easier for new uses. However, the redesign made it difficult for existing users, as there are some major changes to the app design. The ‘social’ and ‘media’ features have been separated, blurring the lines between your friends and professional content creators.

A radical approach is appropriate during instance, where you have almost no current users. You can even redesign the app entirely, if the old design has evolved for years and the overall user experience has become overly tangled. Unless the existing design has become messy because of over-loaded features — it is best to stay with familiar design your users prefer. Mobile app development is considered to be taken forward with boundaries being pushed by tech giants like snapchat and we believe they have taken a bold step with this move. Sooner or later users will get used to it and will start liking this design better. At least lets hope so.