Mobile app Snapchat recently launched a new, easier-to-use redesign. But feedback wasn’t exactly positive. The new redesign separates the app into two sections: friends content to the left and media content to the right.
Users weren’t impressed. The new update makes it difficult to navigate the app, they claim. Plus media content seems to be highlighted over friends content. That’s because the friend “stories” page has been replaced by a “media” page. Unsurprisingly, “story” views have plummeted for most users. This isn’t helped by the fact that Snapchat’s algorithm doesn’t sort by chronology, but based on how often you communicate with someone.
The uproar has been so widespread that more than a million people have signed a petition requesting a roll back. Add 171,000 new 1-star reviews to the app’s page, and things aren’t looking good.
So why did Snapchat opt for the update, anyway?
A few reasons. One is to make Snapchat more “personal” by separating friends and media content. This probably has something to do with combating “fake news” as well. Another reason is to make the app more user-friendly – and appealing – for older users. While the app reigns supreme with younger users, older users have dubbed it complex and unappealing.
And third, well, it has investors to keep happy. After a lackluster stock market performance since its IPO in 2017, something had to change. The aim of the new update is clearly to expand the app’s user base in order to deliver some long-anticipated ROI.
So is there anything good about the update?
For all the negative reviews, the split-screen approach will make it easier for new users to figure out the app. And all users will be able to clearly differentiate between friends content and media content – even if those stories are a little harder to find.
Plus the site is finally courting influencers with a long-overdue analytics update. Verified accounts and other influencers will be able to track the demographics of their followers – and measure their own performance against other influencers.
But when is enough enough for a mobile app?
Snapchat isn’t the first mobile app to roll out a universally despised update. Facebook and Twitter have seen more than their share of negative press. But what’s interesting here is the extent and animosity of the feedback received by Snapchat.
Snapchat claims to be designing with its users in mind, but is it? If an update results in such a negatively strongly reaction, should a company roll back its update? Who should have say in how a social media app works – the users, or the shareholders? And to what extent can a user experience be “handed down” from above rather than experienced at a grassroots level?
The Snapchat update is an interesting window into who “owns” an app – and whose voice matters when updating it. These are all questions that mobile app developers need to consider.