Snapchat recently underwent a major redesign in attempt to simplify the UX for new and returning users. The Snapchat update has so far only been introduced to the U.K, Canada and Australia, but the response has made worldwide news. The people, more specifically the teenaged people, Snapchat’s strongest demographic, are not happy. According to SensorData, 83 percent of users reviews are negative. Users are complaining that the updates make app navigation difficult and unnatural. Not exactly the reaction Evan Spiegel was hoping for…

What’s all the fuss about?

Snapchat Update 1Image source:

Here’s a breakdown of the key UI changes upsetting users.

Snapchat Update #1: New Content Segmentation

Snapchat users haven’t experienced a drastic change in UI since the app introduced geolocation tagging and news sites. This most recent Snap overhaul has left users confused; segmenting friends and non friends was not something users were expecting. Previously users were pooled together on the one stories page. Now friends’ stories are only accessible through the messaging section of the app, the most popular Snapchat feature.

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Screen of ‘Chat’ screen pre-update

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‘Friends’ screen post-update. Photo source: Snapchat via

What in simpler days was just the ‘chat’ page, providing users with messages alongside incoming and outgoing personal snap history, now adds friend’s profile photos outlined in blue, indicating an available new story. Think Facebook story strategy – where profile photos are outlined in pink.

This feature will likely increase the amount of stories consumed within Snapchat, yet this change has disrupted the UX of users who enjoy watching continuous video streams. This is where Snapchat hit a wall. Users are able to watch the videos of their close friends only on ‘friends’ page. Had Snapchat added story access to the ‘friends’ page, while still keeping the general ‘stories’ page, users might be less frustrated.

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Screenshot of ‘Stories’ Pre-Update

The redesign is trying to make the app more personable – separating socializing with close friends from video watching of celebrities and acquaintances. The design arranges content created by friends into one section, while celebrities and users who do not “follow back” appear on the other side of the app. For those less popular snapchatters, conveniently accessing certain videos could prove difficult. A lot of users loved having friends and non-friends in one feed – it felt like an all inclusive video playground where no one felt left out. The new segmentation clearly differentiates between the followers and the followee, and a majority of users do not like it. These users have taken to twitter and app reviews to voice their frustration.

Gaining early insight into user confusion would have allowed Snapchat to avoid this entire mess. It can be assumed that Snapchat executed plenty of tests on their new update, but utilizing qualitative tests would have provided Snapchat with important user-behavior information, and wouldn’t have Snapchat currently fearing a drop in retention. Qualitatively assessing user frustration using session recordings and heatmaps would have shown Snapchat their weak points during the testing phase.

Snapchat Update #2: Influx of Ads

An unprecedented number of users are complaining about the ads interspersed throughout their video watching experience. In recent months Snapchat has seen their story uploads plateau. This was problematic for Snapchat. Stories are one of the main Snapchat money makers. As users watch stories they’ll come across a strategically placed ad; If users stop watching and making stories, there is less opportunity for ad placement. The answer? Make it easier for users to watch stories. The result? Highlighting user stories in the messaging screen.

The more users watch videos via the messaging screen, the more opportunity to slide money making ads into the UX. It seems likely that since users are watching more videos, they are coming across more ads. Risky move, Snapchat. Users, especially teenage users, are easily frustrated; if not for their Snapchat steaks the company might be risking user loyalty. Not sure what a Snapchat streak is? Ask your 15 year old cousin. The concept makes me question my identity as a Millenial.

It is safe to say that hope is not lost for Snapchat. They have an opportunity to fix the app post-launch before releasing it globally. Learn more about qualitative analytics and the most effective app testing tools here.

Snapchat Update #3: Stories available outside of Snapchat

Snapchat Update 5Image source: SnapInc via

Despite all the negativity surrounding the update, Snap has released some exciting new features that both the tech world and Snap user base are excited about. The new story sharing feature permits users to share content outside of the app. Through Snapchat’s new webplayer users can send stories to non users via email, messaging apps and more. Though veering from Snapchat’s initial claim to fame – inaccessible content unless in-app – Snapchat is guaranteeing relevancy by continuing to iterate their product. However different, the new feature stays true to traditional Snapchat fashion. These stories disappear in 24 hours. Smart move, Snapchat.

In conclusion

Users don’t like change. This Snapchat update frustrated many, but it seems that it will still allow Snapchat to reach its current goals: increase the amount of time users spend watching in-app content. In the meantime, while teenagers adjust to the new update maybe they’ll pass the time by actually talking to their friends in person. Eh, you’re right. Probably not.

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