Snapchat introduced a new redesign of their app intended to promote more sharing among friends while pushing professionally produced content into a separate news feed. The redesigned app also includes a new dynamic friends page that consists of both chat messages and Snapchat stories and pushes items from your close friends to the top of the feed. It will begin appearing later this week for a small number of users and expected to roll out more broadly in the next few weeks.
The news comes at a time when Snap is under pressure from slow user growth and competition from Facebook and Instagram. The idea behind the redesign in the new Snapchat is to put your friends on one side of the app and the brands on the other. In the center is the Snap camera, which will remain the app’s home screen to encourage users to point, click and share. Snap says the company produces 3.5 billion snaps each day. The left side of the app will be used for sharing and discussing, while the right side is used for searching.
Snapchat’s redesign is not something entirely new. The left side of the app has also been used for chats with friends, and the right side has always been used for brands. But until then, stories, have been located in their tab to the right of the camera screen. Also, the stories tab blended content from friends and brands, which may have confused some users.
“Until now, social media has always mixed photos and videos from your friends with content from publishers and creators,” the company said in a blog post. “While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side-effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves.”
The new feature begs the question, how does Snapchat know who is a friend and who is a brand? Snapchat explains that if an account follows you back, it is considered a friend, and shows up on the left side of the app. If the app does not follow you back, it shows up on the Discover page.
Snap executives hope this new redesign and organization will lead to higher user-engagement between close groups of friends. Moreover, separating brands and people it will create an algorithm feed that caters more towards the users wants and needs. For example, the company now has a “best friends” algorithm that puts the people you engage with the most to the top. The more you chat with someone and watch their stories, the higher in the feed they will rise.
Also, Snapchat has gotten rid of a button for watching all the stories on your feed. Instead, after you watch a story, you will see a screen previewing the next story from one of your friends. You can either tap the screen to view it or swipe it away to return to your chats.
The new redesign may scare off publishers who are used to having their content mixed with the stories of friends, which most likely generated more views as a result. However, with the new design changes Publishers could begin following back their user bases, but unless they start interacting with the millions of accounts, they may show up lower in the feed than they would on the Discover page. Snap said it will release new tools to help creators profit from their work on Snap.
The new design changes also allow users to personalize their Discover page by subscribing and unsubscribing.
The company’s future is heavily dependent on making the application more accessible to a broader audience. The redesign changes are supposed to make the application more user-friendly and user intuitive.