If you’ve been following the meteoric rise of Snapchat since 2012 – or their subsequent drop-off after their app overhaul – you’ve seen a young, disruptive company experience some growing pains. A leaked 6000-word, internal memo from its CEO, Evan Spiegel, offers some frank and straightforward insights into difficulties which were caused by the company’s app redesign.
According to TechCrunch, a humble Spiegel admitted to impatient strategic moves. Perhaps taking a page out of the Zuckerberg “Move fast and break things” manual? In a nutshell, Snapchat shocked their users by overhauling the interface and, in doing so, sparked users to jump ship for other, more comfortable UI/UX social tools like Instagram.
Not only did changing the UX cause a user revolt, during Snapchat’s difficulties, but other social media networks have also been able to copycat the concept and gain traction in regions where they were weak. Essentially, while they were busy fixing their botched relaunch, other companies have jumped in and offered a Snapchat-like tool in underdeveloped markets.
So what can we learn from all of these painful lessons as app developers & testers?
Understand the specific user test cases and conditions – who’s your target audience, what devices, conditions are they going to be using – and test against those environment(s). Snapchat’s new app was targeted at the US and other wealthy countries; unfortunately, it has proved to be buggy and perform poorly on the slower and less-robust network connections in the developing world. This critical oversight has collapsed demand in certain parts of the world and left the door open for other apps to swoop in and collect frustrated Snapchat users.
Pilot programs can be your friend – and provide feedback before you cannibalize your (entire) established user base. Snapchat admits that they should have run a small pilot program to a small portion of their user base before forcing this across all users.
Frustrated users can sink a business
This might be the most important thing to remember…. Or have it painted on your office wall. The barriers for users to find other sources are so minor that a small UX annoyance can cause major damage to the business. That’s not to say that what happened to Snapchat is catastrophic, but it’s more than just a sprain when it comes to company growth. Snapchat has a plan to get disgruntled ex-users back on board with a new Android app, but after losing 3 million users last quarter and more than $300 million, they’ll have a steep hill to climb and very little room for error.
Getting users in the first place is hard- winning them back once they’ve jumped ship and gone to another app is an order of magnitude worse.
Check out the full story on the Snapchat memo here:
Testing for real-world conditions
Perfecto offers a testing platform that can provide real-world testing conditions like 3G and poor signal strength(and many other real-world conditions like background apps, orientation, GPS location, concurrent call):