The Concept

I like Snapchat as much as the next guy. It’s a great way to send quick, fun, and (most of the time) weird moments from your day to friends and family. The interface is clean, simple, and does its’ best not to distract from the main function. Recently, Snapchat has been experimenting with its’ formula, introducing new features in an effort to increase and retain interaction (not to mention make a little ad revenue).

In my opinion, Snapchat needs to take a step back and refine some of the key features they already have. I’ve identified two main user experience issues I’ve had with Snapchat, and how I think they should go about fixing them.

The Challenge

You get a snapchat video from a friend on vacation. You open up the app, and see that little purple box staring back at you. Maybe you’re at work, and your boss is within earshot. Or perhaps you’re on a crowded train, with people potentially looking over your shoulder. Do you open it now or wait until you’re in a more appropriate setting?

In my mind, you’re left with five possible outcomes:

  • Plug in some headphones, cup your hands around your screen, and hope for the best.
  • Open the video with the sound on, and almost certainly disturb the people around you.
  • Open the video with the sound off, and possibly miss out on the whole point of the video.
  • Open the video, and possibly offend or disturb the people around you with the imagery it contains.
  • Wait.

But what if you knew the nature of the content without ever having to open it? With Snaptags, you can.

The Approach

Part of what makes Snapchat so worthy of user attention is the mystery it offers. Who knows what’s behind that little red or purple square in your feed? The only way to find out is to click and watch. The extra step Snapchat puts between getting a notification and viewing a snap is a key part of the apps ecosystem. The feed allows users to respond to snaps, view their snap history, and see how long it’s been since they sent or opened a snap. More importantly, it allows users to acknowledge a snap without viewing it, and, if necessary, save it for later. This is where Snaptags come in.

The Final Product

I wanted Snaptags to fit seamlessly into the Snapchat design. As such, I kept as much of the original design as possible in an effort not to confuse existing users.

After taking a photo or video, you’re then brought to the edit phase. I placed my icon at the bottom next to the Story button, since the top row of buttons seems to be more focused on editing the content of the snap, whereas the bottom row is focused on how the snap is sent.

I borrowed from the imagery of the Sticker and Story button, and used rounded square imagery when designing my icon. The exclamation point is used to communicate the basic symbol of notification.

From there, the user can click on the Tags button and choose an option appropriate to their content. They’re shown both the symbols their recipient will see in their feed alongside the meaning of that symbol. This lets users learn by doing, effectively speeding up the process of acceptance and integration.

To stay in line with Snapchat’s design language, I used the same option box that appears when interacting with the Time button. This should help introduce users to the new feature in a form they're familiar with.

On the other end, the recipient will see the snap in their feed with one of four symbols in place of their usual red or purple square. The familiar red and purple square still appear for snaps without an attached tag.

When a user opens their feed to view a snap, they go through a three step process: see who sent it, see if it’s a video or a picture, and proceed to click. By placing the symbols inside the red or purple square, Snaptags adds a fourth step into the process right before the user takes action and views a Snap. This allows for a split second of consideration where users can take in the context of both the snap and the environment it's being viewed within.