I set myself a mini project of redesigning/improving the current UX of an existing app to complete in the space of two days. I gave myself the freedom to redesign any part of the app where I thought users would benefit most.
For this exercise, I chose Instagram. It is one of the most popular apps in the world with millions of users daily. Instagram already has a strong visual identity, however it lacks in some features compared to that of Facebook and Twitter, which both offer greater messaging features. However, Instagram does not pride itself on these features and is streamlined towards user interaction and that is where my focus will be.
I looked at the app as a whole and saw a lack of features within the business side. As companies venture more into social media, I thought these tools needed to be developed to help them grow and prevent them from having to use multiple tools or be unable to reach the desired goal.
I interviewed four of my peers to get a better understanding of how they use Instagram and what their goals and pinpoints are. From the results I created users personas, each one representing a type of user.
Clothing Line Owner
Wants to grow his brand, network and show his products off to the world. Has customers globally and so uses various alarms to remind him of when to post to reach the selected time zone audience. Often uses the hashtag feature to help promote his brand.
Has a desire to discover new content using the Explore page and search feature. Searches using the hashtag and location features and often gets inspiration for her travels this way. Follows accounts and likes various travel posts to help the “Interests” AI within Instagram show more travel content on her explore page.
Every day the user posts. Finds beauty in everyday things and posts them for the world to see. Always uses hashtags to promote his posts. Plans his posts in advance but occasionally misses the deadlines/times for his posts to make the greatest impact. Always uses multiple apps to plan his posts which can become a bit overwhelming.
Connected mostly with friends, follows the occasional influencer or brand. Uses the app to look at user posts, stories and is hot on the like button (double tap). Does not actively search for new content and was it mentioned that he really likes the like button?
Based on user interviews, I researched the many third-party apps users predominantly use. The two main categories I focused on were Planning and Re-postings apps.
UNUM, Planoly and Hootsuite
Planning apps help with the overall design of your Instagram feed and times to post. UNUM is a 3rd party app that allows users to share edited stories and pre plan the layout of their feed, it helps the user stand out for being ‘unique’.
Repost, Repost For Instagram and Quickly Repost
Reposting apps allows users to post content already posted by others as a way of helping to gain exposure and post relevant content.
The current UX flow for most users is satisfactory, business accounts however are looking to maximise their impressions, engagement, engagement and following. The lack of posting features limits these companies considerably.
A date and time selection could be present in the later stages of uploading to allow for users to schedule now or for later.
User can select the date and time for when the content will be posted. The post is then stored on Instagram’s servers in case of the posting device being turned off or unable to connect to the internet. This further prevents the post being missed or delayed.
Scheduling posts will give an account the ability to target specific times and time zones as well as create posts when it’s convenient for the poster and provide the ability to queue up several in advance.
AI for Hashtags
An integrated AI would suggest the best hashtags to reach the greatest possible audience. This would reduce the amount of time a user also spends on creating the post.
A new suggested hashtag feature will provide users the ability to easily add popular hashtags to posts.
Hashtags can still be entered in the body but the selected options from the ‘recommended’ option will be displayed below and can be changed from there also.
Using AI, Instagram can suggest the most relevant and popular hashtags and apply them to the post. Hashtags are a proven way for content to be discovered by a new and greater audience. With this new feature, companies will be able to select the perfect hashtag for the post.
Micro-Interactions and Animations
More micro-interactions would help communicate the status providing feedback, enhance the sense of direct manipulation and help people see the results of their actions. This would further improve Instagram’s navigation and increase user satisfaction.
The addition of a few micro-interactions would greatly improve customer satisfaction and also would make load times feel faster. Furthermore, if they introduced non-static interactions the usability would reduce a user’s uncertainty. An example of this would be: for anything that takes longer than one second to load, use an animation to reducer customer anxiety and help tweak a user’s perception of time. Currently Instagram offers no such feature.
For this project I focused primarily on the development of the product rather than the visual design.
Even though visual design has a large impact on user experience, I believe the above solutions would bring a greater benefit to users over a redesign. This would reduce the UX flow and remove the steps where users resort to 3rd party apps.
For the first solution, a scheduling feature is added to help users plan out their posts and have the ability to post while they are away from their device. The second solution of AI hashtags would allow users to quickly select the recommended hashtags based on popularity and relevance. And finally the third would make user interaction more enjoyable by providing small feedback to users while also making load times feel faster.
These features could be rolled out as a ‘beta’ or to selected users who would like to participate. Feedback would be gathered and analysed to see how these features have impacted the user and if they cause any pain points.
· Percentage of users that use these features
· Changes in account growth (followers, likes, engagement and impressions)
· Percentage that have stopped using 3rd party apps
What I Learned
When I began I originally thought I would just focus on messaging and the overall UI of Instagram but after research and user interviews I realised there were bigger pain points that users face on a daily basis.
Although Instagram has a very large design and development team, I had a desire to explore and research to see what I could come up with. In researching the company I discovered their values and why features such as re-posting are not possible as some features could cause legal issues due to misuse by users.
It is undeniable that since its launch, Instagram has grown massively to becoming one of the most used apps daily and possessing billions of users. I’m sure as the months go by Instagram will fill in the gaps that are being created by 3rd party apps offering features it currently doesn’t but it will adapt over time.
If I Had Longer To Do This Project I Would:
1. Redesign Instagram to incorporate its identity within the components of the app and create a more modern and playful design.
2. Create more micro-animations/ transitions to offers greater user satisfaction and greater feedback (making it feel more human)
Potential Future Concepts?