Room For Improvement
Snapchat must continue to innovate and polish its platform in order to maintain viral growth and remain relevant. Chris loves the practice of making continuous improvements to every project and challenge he tackles, so he shifted his time and focus towards Snapchat to identify and document the following 48 original ideas and 17 bugs.
These ideas and innovations spring from Chris' power usage of Snapchat, his past experiences designing and launching his own moment sharing apps, and his keen eye for detail. He is happy to expand on any of these topics in more detail - just reach out. Enjoy!
Pristine User Experience 💯
Snapchat's descriptive icons, predictable swipes, and simple compose flow all contribute to an undeniably high quality user experience. No app has a flawless UX, though. With that in mind, Chris identified 22 ways Snapchat can iterate on their current product to make the user experience even more pristine than it already is. (List is in no particular order.)
1. As the camera loads upon first opening Snapchat (after launch screen has completed loading), users cannot access the Chat or Stories screens for ~.5 seconds to 3 seconds. Strive to remove any waiting time after the launch screen finishes loading by allowing users immediate access to Chats and Stories on first load.
2. When composing a Snap directly to a friend in Chat, allow users to swipe left to exit the camera.
3. Expand the searchable keywords used to describe emojis in Sticker and Emoji Search. The expansion should include popular misspellings and broader descriptions of each item.
4. When tapping through Stories back to back (not in playlist mode), users must re-adjust the volume on every single new story they open. This is a problem. If a user adjusts the volume on a Story and <10 seconds elapses before they continue to the next Story, then keep the volume level as-is.
5. Bring Sticker and Emoji Search to Chat.
6. If a user does not have many Recent Updates on the Stories screen, do not trigger the timestamp indicator on the right side of the screen when they scroll quickly. Set a minimum number of Stories, perhaps ~7 to 10 Stories.
7. Work with Apple to customize the css of Snapchat's App Store download page to make Snapchat seem more premier and important.
8. When using the Search feature to find a friend to Chat with, change the returnKeyType from "Search" to “Go” on the keyboard if only one friend is on the screen. Clicking "Go" opens that friend's Chat.
9. When using the Search feature to find a friend to send a snap to, change the returnKeyType from "Search" to “Go” on the keyboard if only one friend is on the screen. Clicking "Go" selects the checkbox next to their name and highlights their name in the UITextField.
10. On the Stories page, implement a more prevalent Select All button for Recent Updates. The button is currently a niche secret. By implementing a visible and known button, Snapchat would cater to both "camps" of users currently divided on the Playlist feature.
11. Do not force the keyboard to pop open in Chat when a user scrolls to the bottom of the screen. I see the perceived benefits, but in reality this unnatural messaging experience obstructs the illusion of a smooth message browsing experience. However, do continue to pop the keyboard open when the user first enters Chat for speed purposes. Implemented in 126.96.36.199.
12. In the compose flow, let users scroll at 3x speed through Filters by placing two fingers on the screen and dragging sideways. This would behave similarly to dragging the Alphabet bar on the right side of the contacts book and allows power users to compose snaps significantly faster. This should not interfere with users layering multiple Filters.
13. When a Snap is sending to a friend that you also have an unopened snap from, place more design emphasis on the fact that there's an unopened snap and less emphasis on sending. Allow users to open a snap while sending a snap.
14. Remove the Needs Love feature to simplify the compose flow, unless data starkly confirms this feature adds value. Alternatively, improve the Needs Love algorithm to only show three people you have not snapped in recent weeks, which will add more value relevant to the feature and make it worth the valuable screen real estate.
15. Scroll to the very top of the Stories page so that the the Search bar is visible on screen. Upon clicking the stories icon to add all recent updates to a playlist, Snapchat first scrolls the screen back to normal scroll position (hiding the Search bar). A better UX, and what users expect, would be to override the scroll action when at the top of the Stories screen, and initiate the select all Playlist action instead.
16. Implement an Autosave feature in the menu of every Chat. When turned on, the hold-to-save action is performed automatically on every message sent or receive. Users can hold-to-unsave any of the saved messages, as usual. This optional feature will boost Chat usage significantly.
17. When composing a Snap to a single person, users are able to expand their sending options by clicking their friend's name on the bottom bar. However, when multiple Stories are Live and a user clicks the quick-add button when composing a Snap, users are not able to expand their sending options from the bottom blue bar. Clicking the “My Story” bar should behave the same way as the friends bottom bar.
18. Under Recent Updates, add a feature that lets users replay a Story they just watched. Implemented in 188.8.131.52.
19. When editing big text on a Snap, if a user zooms the text in or out then clicks the T icon to switch from left-aligned big text to centered big-text, keep the text at the same zoom level. Currently it reverts to the default zoom size.
20. Bring back the ability for users to swipe to the next page of Discover content for more natural browsing experience.
21. Click the three dots menu next to your story. Pressing and holding on an individual snap in a user's story list should bring up the list of who viewed the snap. Users can then take further action on the snap (delete or save).
22. Clicking a friend's name from the left menu of Chat should pop up Edit Name menu.
Boosting User Satisfaction 😀
On the App Store, Snapchat maintains a 2.5 all-version rating while other apps in the space maintain all-version ratings above 3.5. Though ratings don't necessarily tell the full story, diving into Snapchat's user reviews reveals a strong user dissatisfaction with certain features or updates. Obsessively striving to eliminate unhappy moments while smoothing out the user experience, as advised above, will boost user satisfaction significantly. Apart from Chris' SWOT Analysis suggestions, here are 16 ideas that will help propel Snapchat's user satisfaction to new heights.
(List is in no particular order.)
1. Expand Snapchat’s current Explore technology to create magical Live Story music videos. String together snaps from around a venue into one fluid Story that, when watched, plays the live song in order. Use the timestamp of recording from each snap to determine exactly what order the snaps need to appear in, then assemble the snaps with precision to create an epic, memorable Live Story music video for Discover.
2. Group Chat. Group Chat? Group Chat. 👩👲👳😺👴 Apart from being one of the single most requested features in Snapchat's App Store reviews, group chatting is a communication medium core to all successful messaging platforms. This not a new or original idea, but when introduced as a layer to the Snapchat experience, it would be a new an innovative and ground breaking messaging experience. The hold to save feature in Chat, when applied to a group setting, has the potential to put a dent in Facebook's photo albums. While Memories may already serve as a hub for easily distributable content to your friends, new potential for endless moment sharing (and saving!) will be realized under the prompt of a group Chat. If Snapchat wants to retain users for years, boost daily active user numbers, attract waves of new users, pull snap lurkers out of their shells, and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving messaging landscape, it needs a flawless form of group connection implemented within the next 12 months. Implemented in 184.108.40.206.
3. Use Bluetooth to send moments in crowded, low-signal areas via a mesh network built on Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity Framework. Securely pass moments from phone to phone until either the snap reaches the intended nearby friend, or a user with good connection. Bluetooth mesh networks reduce data usage and increases snap delivery success rates. In the context of high schools that block Snapchat on WiFi or cell signal is poor inside, time in app will increase among teens. In the context of crowded events, moments that make or break a Live Story will be delivered in a timely fashion rather than hours later when a user regains connection. Opt-in to bluetooth permissions could be incentivized (“Sending Failed! Would you like to try sending this Snap using Bluetooth instead?”). Potential acquisitions that would fast-track bluetooth implementation: Open Garden Inc’s Firechat or Juxta Labs’ Jott Messenger.
4. "Press and hold to Replay!" should remain active for a minimum of 10 seconds even if a user navigates away from their Inbox. Users may swipe to another screen, then quickly change their mind and decide to Replay a snap. However, upon revisiting their Inbox with hopes of Replaying, the user realizes they inadvertently cancelled the Replay option by leaving the screen.
5. Press and hold to add a Lens to a friend’s face during live video chat. 😜
6. Draw on the screen during live video chat. Drawings would fade out after 10 seconds either starting from the original draw point and snaking, or the entire stroke would fade all at once. 🎨
7. Be more strict with article sites such as Daily Mail in regards to inappropriate clickbait content. Do not let journalists seeking clicks put Snapchat's user satisfaction in danger by allowing them to freely play to the lowest common denominator of visual clickbait.
8. Add a trophy for using Snapchat on special days. Add flag trophies for using Snapchat in different countries. Add a trophy for using three filters on a snap (use the 👌 emoji). Add a trophy for reaching certain streaks with friends.
9. Users should not have to sift through a long list to get to the Stories that matters most to them. Consider the implications of letting users choose who shows in Recent Updates on Stories page, similarly to how users choose who sees their Story. Alternatively, let users ❤️ or ⭐ a friend, which forces that friend's future Recent Updates to the top of the Stories page. The Playlist feature would multiply in power alongside this feature.
10. Add an eyedrop color selector to Draw mode. This will enable users to more rapidly access a larger range of colors than the current hold and drag feature. The tool would pick up previously drawn line colors, so when a user switches draw colors they can easily re-select colors they used earlier in a drawing. Taking a picture of a cupcake with pink icing, for example, could be a more wonderful Snapsterpiece experience if the user has immediate, easy access to that exact shade of pink.
11. Allow users to undo or cancel creating a new Snaptag. This would revert their Snaptag to the one they had before they started creating a new one, rather than losing it permanently.
12. Push notify users who have long streaks when their streak is about to expire.
13. If a user "attaches" a Sticker to a video snap, hide those stickers when the user switches between the two camera modes. If possible, have them reappear when the user switches the camera back.
14. Let users see their friends’ trophy cases. Snapchat would only need to be willing to reveal what all the trophy icons looks like. Trophy descriptions, however, would stay a secret. A friend’s trophy screen would be accessible from the left menu when in Chat, or by pressing and holding a friend’s name in the user’s Inbox.
15. Allow users to press and hold on the entity that appears in a Speed, Weather, Elevation, Time/Date, or Battery filter to turn it into a sticker. The user can then freely reposition, resize, or rotate the "sticker".
16. When tapping a friend's name at the top of Chat, show their score split. Just like how users tap the word Chat at the top of their Inbox to see their own score.
Capitalizing on Untapped Revenue Opportunities 💰
Snapchat has attracted millions of happy users, however one of the hardest parts is still to come: transitioning to a full-time monetization schedule that does not scare off users or ruin the magical experience that is "Snapchat". Chris has suffered firsthand from failing to monetize his past social ventures, and he has learned a great deal about nurturing online communities from those experiences. Chris has 10 strategic ideas for Snapchat as they roll out their plans of monetization that keeps the prolonged health of Snapchat's valuable user base in mind. Disclaimer: some of these are "If Snapchat is not doing it already". (List is in no particular order.)
1. Display the day prior's Discover content at the very bottom of the Discover page. Show the most popular articles from that day to further incentivize quality content creation by Snapchat's partnered news outlets, as well as the user's subscribed outlets. Add a full-width separator that says “Best of Yesterday”, followed by the content. Pack the prior day's articles with twice as many advertisements as usual.
2. When a user 'tries on' a Sponsored Lens but does not commit to using the Lens in a snap, count it as an ad impression. The brand or promotion, in this situation, is shown in front of one user’s eyes - every impression counts.
3. Promoted people or brands in the Add Friends menu.
4. Add a circular progress indicator in the corner of Discover content similar to on Snaps and Stories so users have a bearing on how many screens are left to view. As a result, users will be more willing to continue to the end of the content rather than quit prematurely by swiping down if they know exactly how many screens are left which boosts article engagement and increases ad impressions.
5. Shifting, geofenced zones attached to a travelling entity such as a car, bus, plane, train, or boat. Make Filter or Lens partnerships with companies such as cruise lines, airlines, hotels, bus lines, Uber, Lyft, etc. Uber would pay Snapchat a fortune to access this advertising functionality.
6. Implement Story-style comment sections to Discover called Reactions. Users can Snap a reaction to each site's daily Discover content. The Reactions display at the bottom of each article, or is Fixed on the bottom of the screen, and could be watched exactly like a Live Story. This content would be groomed and moderated by Snapchat or by the content creation sites to ensure pristine quality. By adding a dynamic human element in the form of Snapchat Reactions, users are better incentivized to view Discover content. Snapchat Reactions would revolutionize internet comment sections and boost Snapchat's ad impressions in Discover.
7. Store all brand, song, slang, animal, food, location, etc mentions by users in Chat, text captions, or the contents of snaps (use image recognition & audio transcription technologies) to create an ad-profile for each user. Store important accessory information such as the date, time, and location of these monetizable mentions to paint the most accurate picture possible of each user’s consumer preferences. Based on preferences constructed in each user's ad-profile, Snapchat can do many valuable things: determine exactly what order Discover content should be shown each day, only show certain sponsored Lenses to certain ad-profiles (thus allowing Snapchat to raise CPM and simultaneously run more Lenses from more advertisers), target intermediate fullscreen ads more accurately (again, justifying a CPM raise), or even determine who to advertise Spectacles to (or what Spectacles style to prototype next), etc.
8. Shazam style song identification built into video snaps that activates an ID Filter or an artist-specific Filter or Lens. Implemented in 220.127.116.11
9. Include a free Snapchat or Spectacles t-shirt with purchase of Spectacles. The combination of a user wearing Spectacles and a #FFFC00 shirt would be a powerful, unmatched brand promotion for Spectacles.
10. Promoted content that appears in a Story from a high-profile influencer or a celebrity should be worth a higher CPM. Influencers, by definition, have a larger impact on people who follow them or are interested in their lives, so brands should pay more to advertise alongside these ad-verified accounts.
Exterminating Bugs and Ironing Out Issues 🐛
Here are 17 bugs and issues I've encountered during my research and regular use of Snapchat. (List is in no particular order.)
1. Tap and hold to record video is sometimes delayed 1 to 2, or even 3 seconds. This delay could cause a user to miss the key part of a moment or the necessary runway that can cushion the perfect moment. Improved in 18.104.22.168.
2. There’s an invisible share button on friends' detail pop ups in the upper left corner. The corner appears blank, but when clicked opens share options. Fixed in 22.214.171.124.
3. When using Siri directly from a Chat, taking a screenshot of Siri sends a “You took a screenshot of Chat!” alert to the Chat that is active behind Siri. Using Siri is effectively the same as switching apps and, if possible, should not affect Chat in any way.
4. Dragging down to exit Sticker search on compose flow has a rigid transition that does not compare to the smooth transitions seen elsewhere in Snapchat. Consider a fade-based transition on the search bar and all accompanying buttons.
5. Discover article site avatars are off centered in the more info pop up.
6. When sending photos to a batch of people, Snapchat shows red sent arrows rather than purple sent arrows. This is deceptive and can lead a user to believe the video sent as a photo, which weakens user satisfaction.
7. The two frames of the hourglass gif indicating when a snap streak is ending soon are not the same width on iPhone 5S. It jitters as a result.
8. The “line” on the bottom of the screen that indicates which screen the user is currently on should gradually fade (exactly like the accompanying buttons) when the user scrolls down the Stories screen rather than flashing from gray to opaque-white, or opaque-white to gray.
9. The common, expected functionality where you can tap the top bar to rapidly scroll to the top is not present in Chat.
10. In trophy menu, the unknown trophy lock asset is off center with the accompanying “???” text.
11. When a user taps the share icon from their profile screen, the Snaptag goes blank. This does not occur when on the Snaptag screen and the user clicks the share button. Fixed in 126.96.36.199.
12. After sending a snap to a friend from whom you have an unopened snap, immediately clicking on that friend’s name will open Chat and prematurely initiate the opening of that friend’s snap in Chat. The Snap will show as counting down. Do not trigger the viewing of the Snap if the user enters Chat in this split second. Fixed in 188.8.131.52.
13. Ads that show between users' friends' Stories will cause the last watched Story to re-appear in the Stories feed as if it was not watched yet. Re-watching the glitched Story will display the first snap of the Story, then close to show the expected purple Chat icon.
14. Clicking the rotate icon on a video in Chat that was shared from Memories shows the thumbnail in the background.
15. When in Chat viewing a Story forwarded to you from a friend, if your friend arrives in Chat while you are watching the Story, the keyboard will pop into view on top of the Story that you are watching.
16. The pan-in transition to the Settings screen is not consistent with the immediate transitions to the Trophies, Added Me, Add Friends, or My Friends menus.
17. When beginning to record video, the icons do not fade out at the same speed. The top icons fade out quickly while the icons at the bottom of the screen take about 1.5 times as long to disappear.
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