Here’s the deal. I love Snapchat, I use it every day. It’s replaced most of my other social media. I’ve been applauding Snapchat’s every move since I started using it a few years ago (call me an early adoptin’ influencer).

Snapchat has always been fascinating to me. I wasn’t quite sure why until I read an article that said Snapchat is fundamentally based on read receipts. Think about that. This is the whole reason I’ve ended up doing most of my messaging via snapchat without realizing why I was doing it.

I applaud them (no really, standing O) on one part of their latest update to include voice and video calling (move over Whats App). Great move, feels really natural in the new UX. 

Here comes the bad. The same reason I love being able to tell if someone has viewed my content is the same reason I like being able to selectively view user stories (or ignore them).  There’s anonymity in not checking a user’s story, no read receipt, they can’t actually tell whether or not I’ve been on Snapchat (or my phone.. spoiler alert, I have).  If someone posts a user story and you don't watch it, were you even on Snapchat? According to Silicon Valley and Schrödinger, No.

Somedays there are people you simply must avoid. That goes for all of us. Snapchat’s new ‘auto-advance’ update which automatically skips viewing to the next story, regardless of the creator, has led to a bizarro snapchat Russian roulette experience. I’m not okay with this.

Here are my main beefs:

  1. I can’t ignore a user story. Watching one means I’m watching all.
  2. After I’ve viewed every story, all that’s left are an overwhelming amount of messaging icons.  A lot of previous conversation was sparked by responding to stories after I viewed them. Now that I’m presented with 20 options, I feel overwhelmed and don’t send any messages (how could I remember what I was responding to anyways?). 
  3. It’s hard for me to know whose story I'm watching.  By the time it switches and I actively peer up to see whose story it is, I’ve missed much of the snap 🙁

With one update they’ve effectively killed my desire to watch user stories, as well as my interest in sending a message after viewing.   

I think the best thing Snapchat can do at this point is own up and switch back to the old story flow until they come up with a better way to get users to consume more content. There’s a lot of humility in admitting a mistake and walking a few steps backwards. Snapchat’s massive user base will appreciate them listening, and become more loyal to the brand in the process. 

Truth be told, Snapchat is the leader in social media at the moment whether you believe it or not. Ask yourself a question. How much less are you posting on Instagram now that you’re getting off those fire snaps and selfies 5 times a day? Exactly. That’s just one example. They’ve stayed true to their vision and their owners walked away from a 4 billion dollar bid, and built a 20 billion dollar company in the process.

That took balls – so does admitting mistakes. 

Tony uses Snapchat frequently and you can add him by his username @tonep.  He also works at Superform where he spends is days designing UX and UI.  If anyone from Snapchat reads this, you can reach him at tony@superform.co. He’d love to discuss UX with you more and getting an early option on the upcoming IPO 🙂