Image-sharing platform Snapchat rose to the top of the social media pyramid in no time. With its quirky AR-powered photo filters, it has become the go-to instant-messaging app for the younger demographic. While it kept making tweaks to its design, in February this year, the company made design alterations which changed the UX of the entire app. The move was made to streamline stories and updates on the app and have a separate feed for branded and popular content. The change backfired majorly as Snapchat lost both money and users because of it.
Snapchat's haste to monetise
Snapchat has been growing, usurping Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as the most popular social media platform. Its revenue in 2017 was over 8.2 million dollars. When it went public in 2017, Snapchat was valued at $28 billion dollars. Given it achieved such sporadic popularity in a short span of time, its competitors began introducing similar features to lure its user base. Instagram's introduction of stories has given Snapchat direct competition. Snapchat, thus, has been trying to tackle two brief issues. First, to keep users engaged. Second, to monetise the app by integrating advertisements. This is what prompted the recent design changes. Unfortunately, it backfired severely for Snapchat.
Snapchat integrated its Stories and chat feature on one screen, calling it Friends page, and revamped the original Stories page to push popular and branded content. This irked users who took to social media to voice their dismissal of the new design. The below image provides a look at the design before as well as the new design.
Damage done by redesign
Snapchat's redesign caused severe damaged the brand as it lost money and users. Over 1.2 million people signed a petition on Change.org requesting Snapchat to recall the update. Moreover, Snapchat's parent company Snap.Inc saw a 6% drop in its market value at the closing of Wall Street last week. To add to the damage, users headed to social media to voice their disapproval of the update. Several users even posted about leaving the app for good. The frenzy on social media caused a massive dent in the brand's image.
To combat the damage, Snapchat has assured users that it will roll out another update which will make the design easier to use.
What can UX Designers learn from this fiasco?
Snapchat ignored the most basic UX principle while implementing its redesign - a User-centric approach. UX agencies across the world stress on the importance of approaching design with a User-centric approach. Considering and prioritising the needs of the user first and then integrating business needs is what makes any redesign appealing to the user. Moreover, testing the reworked design to study how the target audience responds to it also helps gain insights into the functionality of the product.
In conclusion, this fiasco clearly serves as an example as to how a User-Centric approach can make or break your product. It shows why and how much User Experience matters and how ignoring it can cost your brand users as well as money.