Snapchat’s Update Shows Us Bad Design

Evan Spiegal explains the new Snapchat Update (11/29/17)

Here’s a story you’ve most likely experienced before — You’re with your friends when someone opens up their phone. Another friend may say, “Oh wow, you’re so lucky you haven’t updated yet. The latest version sucks.”

Sound familiar?

My dad used to say, “People complain about updates not because the new features are bad, but because people are afraid of change.”

There’s been a collective cry of the Internet over Snapchat lately. Whenever I hear about the exaggeration over a new update, I think back to my dad’s words and remind myself how change can impact someone’s emotions. This has worked to explain many things for most of my life, but I’ve found out something new this past week.

The new Snapchat update is legitimately bad.

Let’s dissect why this new update is horrendous.

1.) Are Publishers Considered Your Friends?

If you watched the video above of the Snapchat CEO explaining the new update, you can hear how Spiegal’s opinion on how keeping friends and publishers separate is important to him. I’m on-board with this idea.

Old Snapchat Discover Page

The new update doesn’t reflect this philosophy at all. In the latest version of the Discover section, friends’ public stories are paired with content. This section has become a tossed salad of viewable content. You never know what you’re going to get and this situates your friends’ lives as 10 second reels. Along with this page, celebrity content is also posted here and everything has become an overwhelming whirlpool at this point. This design doesn’t do anything to help paint the picture of your friend as a human who wants to share something important to them.

2.) You Have to Spend More Time to Find Friends

The new update combines your personal feed with your friends’ stories. This excuse to aggregate two concepts resulted in a failure for Snapchat. Hypothetically, without a story section for friends now, you could be missing out on a lot more than you think. If you’re not on the page at a certain time, you’ll miss out on content that your friends are sharing.

3 Screens from the New Update

Taking a look at the most left screen, you can see what I mean. There’s no way to sort through who’s who. This update seems more focused on people who may have fifteen or less friends, but in-reality Snapchat users have many more friends on the platform and it can get troublesome to handle everyone’s content simultaneously.

3.) Sending A Snap is A Burden

As a social media platform for reconnecting, Snapchat falls behind on this one with the new update. The process of sending a snap is much more difficult now. You have to scroll through a list of names to find the person you want. And what if you forgot this person’s name? You’re stuck double-checking if this is the right Josh you’re sending the snap to. The whole process is as smooth as sandpaper and dissuades me from the app entirely.

So What Did Snapchat Get Right?

I like the continual integration of Bitmoji. Now, more than ever, Bitmojis populate the entire universe of Snapchat and the feeling of being tied to a virtual avatar feels rewarding. With these new updates, I only hope they continue integrating this.

Before I leave you, I have one more piece of advice.

Philosophy should reflect design. People are upset about this update because there’s no meaning behind it. Ever push a door instead of pull it open and get frustrated? This is a similar experience. If you’re interested in this concept, I’d check out Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix.

Lastly, avoid the update.


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