In today’s earnings letter to Snap investors, CEO Evan Spiegel revealed that Snapchat is working on a significant overhaul of its app. “One thing we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback.” He confirms that a redesigned, easier-to-use Snapchat is coming.
And it sounds like whatever’s on the way is far bigger than just some minor user experience tweaks. Spiegel says that “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.” His full statement on the new app follows below:
One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback. As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use. 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. We’re willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial longterm benefits to our business.
Rethinking the way Snapchat works could certainly open the app to a huge audience of new users. Spiegel is right in calling out the usability complaints; Snap had to include a manual for using Snapchat in its IPO filing, which is a good indicator that it’s not the most intuitive software in the world.
But as Spiegel warms, drastic changes could also alienate some users and undercut Snap’s cool factor. If you’ve taken the time to learn every corner of the app and master its tricks, you get it. Now, all of that is likely going to change. The earnings letter didn’t give a release date for the new, improved Snapchat.
Spiegel also says that Snap is exploring new ways of surfacing the app’s content “in a personalized and more relevant way, while still maintaining the exploratory nature of our service.” The next sentence suggests an algorithmic sections that vary user to user could is in the plans. “We are developing a new solution that provides each of our 178 million daily active users with their own Stories experience, 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 says.
And finally, Snapchat is “building a new version of our Android application from the ground up that we will launch in select markets before rolling it out widely.” It seems as though this is a separate project from the big remake, but we’ll see.