Snapchat Design Sprint

9 min readMay 7, 2015

It’s hard to find someone under the age of 30 who doesn’t have Snapchat downloaded on their phone. The fast and easy media creation and sharing has been what has set Snapchat apart from other apps since the beginning. The app discovered the perfect combination of being both extremely personal and shockingly ephemeral. Like all things though, there is room for improvement. Snapchat has introduced a lot of changes recently and while some of these were installed to address problems in user experience, they only created more.

Objective: Identify the pain points of sending snaps and viewing snaps.

Who: 4 existing snapchat users who snap more than five times per day and view their stories at least once a day. 4 recent or brand new snapchat users who are either slightly familiar or not at all familiar with the app.

Where: San Francisco

Participant selection: My participants were chosen based on a persona created to evaluate this objective.

Meet Macy!

Behaviors- Listens to music everyday, favorite apps are Pinterest and Instagram, goes to a bar 2x a week, has friends over 1x a week, goes out to eat 7x a week, goes to a show once a month, owns an iPhone 6.

Facts- 21, recent graduate, lives in SF, marketer at an early stage startup, lives with 2 roommates, loves concerts and brunch.

Needs+goals- Keep in contact with friends who are also recently graduated and scattered across the country, share awesome experiences through mass communication (stories), share more personal experiences + jokes through snapping individuals, needs to understand quick communication through image and captions as a means of marketing and stay up to date with recent local/national/global pop culture happenings.

Test tasks:

  1. Chat with someone on snapchat about their last snap.
  2. Reply to someone’s snap with a photo
  3. Snap a photo to multiple people on your recent or best friend list
  4. View one of your friend’s stories, a ‘live’ story, and a Discover story

Finding #1: Stories


Stories are a great way to mass share information with your contacts. But, recently, Snapchat has taken this feature one step further by introducing ‘Live’ snaps, which are chosen for you based on things such as your location. While users seem to really enjoy live stories, the main criticism was that they didn’t feel like they had any control over or interaction with this feature. There wasn’t a larger story being told beyond the user’s view and the only incentive to open these snaps are pure curiosity.

Taking into consideration Snapchat’s movement toward more channel based stories (i.e. their ‘Discover’ feature), creating a way for users to interact with non-friend stories while incentivizing them to open these snaps was a focus in my design. Previewing the snap with a large image is a great way to get people to open the snap because it peaks their interest. It also adds a competitiveness to Snapchat as the more appealing your cover photo for your story is, the more compelling it will be for users all over the world to open it. Separating live stories from friend stories also alleviates some of the user’s complaints that the ‘Live’ stories push their ‘friend’ stories too far down the page and simply interferes with the way they visually digest the story page. Having ‘Live’ centered, however, forces users to visually see what Snapchat has to offer before they can move onto their friend’s snaps.

Like animation

People love like animations. It connects them to a community and fulfills Snapchat’s larger theme of connecting people. When people can interact with a screen, they are more likely to both explore it, and spend more time on it. The like animation isn’t just for entertainment however. It correlates to the popular tab on the Stories page as well as the ‘Discover’ (or in my redesign, ‘Explore’) page. The more users interact with the story, the higher they rise on the popular page. This creates an easy way for verified users (celebrities, stores, restaurants, etc.) to become discoverable by people and allows people to follow stories that they might have otherwise not known they’d be interested in. It creates reason for businesses and well-known people to create better content for users and it gives users the feeling that they have control over what becomes successful.

There is also a simple way to add the user at the top of the screen. Not only does this simplify the adding process, it may create enough of an annoyance on the page that people add verified users to get a better view of their story.

Finding #2: The Discover Feature

The first thing I did with the ‘Discover’ page was change it’s name to ‘Explore.’ With Snapchat’s new money-sharing feature, users have been confused as to whether ‘Discover’ was connected to the Discover Card.

More importantly though, Snapchat needs to find a way to engage users in the Explore feature. It is not particularly cared about, so the challenge is how to get people to use it. Similar to the ‘Live’ stories, the ‘Explore’ page could benefit by having previews. Someone may not want to open up the National Geographic snap, but if they see a picture of a cute seal, it’ll peak their interest. There needs to be a hook to grab people’s attention and almost nothing does that better or quicker than photos. Ultimately, it gives these larger Snapchat users (CNN, Cosmo, etc.) the ability to appeal to people based on stepping up their content game and subsequently get more views.

The like animation feature would also be available on this page and the amount of hearts would appear below the screen and push the story up the page. This incentives the public to view the story by showing them what other people are viewing, therefore generating curiosity.

Issue #3: Creativity in snaps

The main complaint with editing snaps has been the issue of how large the color selection area is. Drawing has proved to be quite difficult as the user is not able to draw anywhere near the color selector otherwise it’ll choose another color and ruin whatever the user was trying to create. This has proved to significantly interfere with the user’s experience of the app.

While Snapchat has made efforts to correct this problem, for example having all icons disappear while your finger is pressed on the screen, it remains a problem. Still, the issue of getting too near the top or the bottom of the screen, the icons reappear.

This called for a complete redesign of what the action bar should look like and how it should function. While the filters can remain on a sliding navigation, time, text, color and send will be located on a black bar at the bottom of the screen. The close button can remain in the top left while the save to photos will be moved to the top right. These should disappear when the draw or text tool is selected. They can reappear when the user closes the drawing or writing function.

Both the text and color feature should remain at the bottom of the page when opened as to create less disruption and avoid the possibility of interference if one goes too close to the edges. The navigation to return to the main editing bar would be a simple left swipe to keep in Snapchat’s theme and create consistency and a more intuitive experience.

Issue #4: Snapchat Newsfeed


The goal of redesigning the snapchat ‘newsfeed’ page is to simply create a more intuitive and simple experience of it.

Right now it is hectic and the icons don’t communicate the function they perform as well as they could. The first step is then creating better icons for the snap notifications. By putting them in a circle rather than squares within a larger rectangle creates a more engaging experience, creates more white space so visual digestion of the page becomes easier, lends itself to more animation ability (such as what the current story page does now), and connects back to a more fun, young Snapchat. To keep consistent navigation, you’d hold the circle to replay, swipe left to chat and swipe right to reply via photo or video. The snaps should also be separated in two tabs: received and sent. This cleans up the page by eliminating unnecessary information when the user is looking for a specific action i.e. view new snap, check to see if sent snap has been opened. By creating a simpler experience, users can more quickly do what they opened the app for.

Issue #5: Chat

The first change I made to the chat page was add color to the header. People process color categories quicker than words, so by adding blue to the top, you’re easing the user’s navagation of the entire app.


While the ephemeral nature of the chat fits with Snapchat’s overall story, it can get pretty confusing. The majority of people reported that it is difficult to always know what was said, who said what, what it was in response to, and when it was said.

The point isn’t to change what the chat feature looks like, just to enhance it’s usability. Splitting the chat to two opposite sides and creating bubbles reflects a more traditional style — something users will be familiar with — without straying too far from Snapchat’s image and what the users are already use to seeing.

By keeping the snap icons there (within the chat), and not having them disappear, along with their time stamp and in the color they appear on their original screen (red=photo, etc), it helps users situate the conversation.

Finally, by keeping conversations there until over a day of inactivity can help with maintaining the ephemeral qualities while addressing user complaints of messages disappearing too quickly to the point where they cannot put the message into the right context.

Issue 6#: Best Friends

Snapchat’s newest addition to it’s app is seemingly random emoji’s next to a person’s name- something everyone seems to be not only confused by, but annoyed with. Rather than having these symbols that don’t match with Snapchat’s aesthetic, and to avoid the whole best-friend debate, it seems more useful to allow the users to create groups for themselves. Users can add whomever they’d like and title the group whatever they like. The recent individuals list would still be useful, but it would appear less prominently than the group list. This fits perfectly with Snapchat’s goal to create easier ways to share mass media while helping users accomplish their goals with fewer clicks.

The page would appear within the ‘Add Friend’ page. The page title would therefore change to ‘Add,’ and there would simply be an option to create a group. This would be done in the same way one would add a friend: by username or friends list.

Next steps: seek out feedback on redesign, test more, iterate!