Snapchat Case Study
what is snapchat?
Snapchat is a photo/video-messaging app that started in 2011. You can take a photo or a short video, then decorate it with doodles, short captions, and filters. The resulting masterpiece (called a "snap") can be sent to your friends. Your friends can then open and watch the snap for a short amount of time before it "self-destructs". This is what makes Snapchat popular among teenagers and young adults.
creating a persona
To keep our design goal consistent throughout the process, I created a persona that represents the users troubled by the app. This ideal persona should be a young adult with little or no experience using Snapchat.
Ericka is a hard-working associate feeling the need for a better work-life balance. Because of her busy schedule, she relies heavily on social media to keep up with her friends. She wishes to be able to keep up-to-date with her friends through an app that is quick and easy to use. She needs something that lets her reach out to all her friends at once during her short breaks at work.
simulating User Flow
Placing myself in Ericka's shoes, I can check out how users such as herself might use Snapchat.
Looking at the user flow I created for Ericka, I can see that it could become time consuming if Ericka decides to send a snap to all of her friends. This goes against Ericka's needs and should definitely be addressed for users like her.
challenges faced by new users
Even though Snapchat quickly became popular, it has trouble attracting adults in their late-20s. As an adult just entering my late-20s, I understand why that might be so. I am a regular user of Snapchat, but I still find navigating across the app a very frustrating experience.
Similar to what I discovered through the user flow, another issue I face using the app is I often find myself spending too much time selecting whom I want to send my snap to. To send a snap to multiple friends, I must select each friend one by one from the list.
wireframe: laying down the foundation
Once I have a good idea on how young adults like Ericka might use the app, I can start to put the pieces together. Before I start making things look pretty, I need to lay down the foundation. You can't paint the walls of a house if there is no house to start with!
With the wireframe I created, I was able to print them out on paper to create a simple prototype. The prototype allowed me to do quick user testing, helping me identify any potential issues with the design.
prettifying the layout
Once I had corrected any issues found during the basic testing with the paper prototype, it is time to paint the walls of the house. Because Snapchat is an existing product owned by Snap Inc., I made sure to follow their style guide when I designed the mock-up screens.
update: Snapchat introduces a group feature
In December 2016, Snapchat finally released a Group feature which lets you snap and chat with up to 16 friends. The new Group feature seems to be an expansion of the existing Chat feature; it includes an easy way to transition to individual chat with anyone within the Group, letting you tap on another member's name when they're active in the chat and jump into a one-on-one conversation.
The Snapchat-official Group features differs from my design in that aspect. Instead of designing the feature as an expansion of the Chat feature, I focused on the feature's flexibility.