Snapchat UX

Posted: October 20th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Design, Product, snapchat | 1 Comment »

I attended a Product School talk this week where Snapchat’s UX was hot topic of discussion. The consensus in the room was that Snapchat’s UX is abysmal. Snapchat is succeeding despite its UX. I couldn’t disagree more!

The Criticism

There’s a bunch of hate on the Snapchat UX. First, when you sign up, the app opens to the camera with no tutorial. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, who will onboard users by adding their friends and showing them content, Snap says “make something!”. As with everything, there is a trade off. Snapchat may be harder to figure out but it sets the tone with that first experience. Snapchat isn’t for the lurkers, it’s for the creators.

The biggest criticism is that Snapchat is confusing. Snap Map is hidden behind a not-so-obvious two finger swipe on the camera. Activating lenses requires a user to press and hold on a face. You can swipe in any direction, pinch on any screen and other “violations” of UX Best Practices.

Something as mundane as having chat on the same side has irritated UX purists.

VS


The Coolness

I remember the moment Snapchat’s je ne sais quoi clicked for me. I was at a work Happy Hour and taking a Snap when a co-worker asked to add me. As I told her my snapchat name she looked at me like I had two heads. Instead she took my phone, went to my profile and took a picture of my Snapcode. Like magic it knew who I was and added me as her friend. All I could say was “whoa”.

 

That was the first but not the last time I was wowed by a friend showing me a feature on Snapchat. Adding “Friends Near by”, accessing filters and accessing Snap Map were all in-person wow moments. Not only that, but I was able to wow friends by sharing the same UI tricks I learned. It’s fun when you learn it and fun when you teach it.

Josh from Greylock coined the term “Shareable UI”

Shareable design understands this deeply social nature of how humans learn, and capitalizes on people’s desires to learn and to teach.
Snapchat does this brilliantly, because each of those seemingly obscure features is an opportunity for its users to show their friends how to do something cool. Showing your friends something cool can increase your social standing, or maybe it just gives you a good feeling. Either way it’s something you want to do! And for Snapchat, that’s great, because it’s converting you into an evangelist for its product, and you don’t even feel like you’re evangelizing: You’re just showing your friends how to do something neat.

Fun over Function

A Usability Study at UserTesting.com concluded –

Of the users who did enjoy Snapchat and wanted to keep using it, the primary reason was because they found it fun. Users who said they would keep using the app were more likely to describe it as “popular,” “fun,” and “cool.” None of the users described the app using words like “useful” or “helpful.” They simply didn’t see the app as a solution for a need.

    Conventional wisdom says Interfaces “have” to be intuitive. Apps/products “have” to be a solution for a need. Snapchat shows this isn’t always the case. Perhaps like Seinfeld, Snapchat is an app about “nothing”.

    Bottom Line

    Snapchat’s interface is not conventional. The UX is not intuitive. These alone don’t make a UX good or bad. Although not intuitive, the Snapchat UX is highly shareable. It’s fun to teach others the secrets you know. The UI may not be conventional but it makes up for it with surprising delight.

    Critics are pressed for Snap to follow an established playbook. Follow standard UX guidelines, modify the product to appeal to everyone, do more growth hacking, make the stories feed algorithmic, etc. Snap’s ability to break convention and blaze their own path is what I love about em.