Snapchat Plans Radical Overhaul to Make Social Platform Easier to Understand [Updated]

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Longtime Snapchat users should prepare themselves for a radical overhaul of the way the mobile app works, based on comments made by Snap CEO Evan Spiegel in his earnings letter to investors on Tuesday.

With the company falling short of lowered projections for growth, Snap put much of the blame on the fact that the social platform is simply a mystery to outsiders. "One thing we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use," wrote Spiegel. "Our team has been working on responding to this feedback."


Few details were provided on the planned redesign, but Snapchat said it was working on an algorithm to show people a more personalized version of the stories they might want to see.

"We are developing a new solution that provides each of our 178 million daily active users with their own Stories experience," wrote Spiegel, "leveraging the tremendous benefits of machine learning without compromising the editorial integrity of the Stories platform that we have worked so hard to build."

Spiegel said that the changes would make it easier for users to see content from people who aren't their friends, but that private conversations between close friends would remain a bulwark of the app.

The esoteric nature of the social platform has apparently moved Snap to make these drastic changes, but the danger is that it could alienate existing users. However, Spiegel said the company was willing to bear the consequences.

"There is a strong likelihood that the redesign of our application will be disruptive to our business in the short term, and we don't yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application," Spiegel said in his prepared remarks to investors. "We're willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial long-term benefits to our business."

Snap's third quarter revenue was $207.9 million, not the $235.5 million analysts had predicted. Shares fell as much as 22 percent in extended trading as a result, before recovering slightly to trade down 17 percent.

Sales estimates for Snap have been dropping since its March initial public offering, with the company apparently unable to clearly explain to advertisers how Snapchat works, despite providing investors with detailed instructions during its initial PO. The lack of a news feed and no ability to share, like, or comment on posts has also proved a stumbling block.

Against this backdrop, Facebook's habit of copying Snapchat features and building them into its own apps has only weakened the uniqueness of Snap's offering in the social media landscape - a key factor of the company's business model. It remains to be seen exactly what a redesign will mean for Snapchat and its users, and no timeline for the rollout has been made public.

Update 11/9: Business Insider reports that Snapchat’s redesign is planned to debut on December 4.

Tags: Snapchat, Snap

Top Rated Comments

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34 months ago
Whilst I'm not really interested in Snapchat I have to say that this is a good move. I downloaded it once because friends were bugging me to use it, but I got way too annoyed at the interface. Just couldn't figure out how to get where I wanted. Guess I'm getting old.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago
Horrible, messy, complex app to use.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago

Whilst I'm not really interested in Snapchat I have to say that this is a good move. I downloaded it once because friends were bugging me to use it, but I got way too annoyed at the interface. Just couldn't figure out how to get where I wanted. Guess I'm getting old.

Same situation here. A month or so ago I decided to cave and download it and it was a mess of an interface. Truly a horrendous experience.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago
"Radical overall"

Hopefully an understatement for this pile of garbage.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago
In addition to the horrible interface, the 2 other problems are that
[LIST=1]
* Snapchat has forgotten why people originally used the app. It was always for sending nudes and having them delete after being viewed and alerting the user if a screenshot is taken. Now they are doing everything they can to do the opposite, to make everything as public as possible.
* Everyone is just moving to Instagram.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago

Whilst I'm not really interested in Snapchat I have to say that this is a good move. I downloaded it once because friends were bugging me to use it, but I got way too annoyed at the interface. Just couldn't figure out how to get where I wanted. Guess I'm getting old.

Same exact situation here. I used it briefly not long after it had originally come out, years ago, and remember thinking the UI was terrible. Not intuitive at all. Then, about 2 years ago, I re-downloaded it (my account still existed) after being pestered by a friend, and it was still terrible. Haven't used it since and don't intend to.


In addition to the horrible interface, the 2 other problems are that
[LIST=1]
* Snapchat has forgotten why people originally used the app. It was always for sending nudes and having them delete after being viewed and alerting the user if a screenshot is taken. Now they are doing everything they can to do the opposite, to make everything as public as possible.
* Everyone is just moving to Instagram.

That's exactly why people used it. I know because my friends did that sort of thing. Then about a year ago, I saw some of my friends using the app for tracking each other's whereabouts... why the hell would you do that? People really want themselves to be tracked all the time? They clearly thought it was neat to be able to see where everyone in their group was at all times. Maybe at my "old" age of 32 I'm uncool, but I think that's super creepy.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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