Not a fan of Snapchat’s redesign? Apparently, neither was most of Snapchat. As per a new report from The Information, it would appear that the impetus for the poorly-received new look for the popular app was pushed through largely by CEO Evan Spiegel, who insisted on carrying out the changes in spite of rushed development and less than stellar testing results.
According to the report, Spiegel decided to redesign the app after a visit to China, where he found that many competitive apps employed an algorithmic layout, rather than showing stories chronologically. He then instructed his team to mold Snapchat to be more similar to these apps, which allegedly forced “many employees” to work 12-hour days, six days a week in order to meet the six-week deadline. Then in November, Spiegel announced the unfinished redesign in the company’s earnings call, which apparently surprised most employees, who had no warning of this plan.
Then in December, Snap began testing the redesign, and found that user engagement with stories dropped — clearly a bad sign. But despite continuing concerns over user metrics, Spiegel decided to push forward with the new look anyway, and the rest, of course, is history.
Since that ill-fated decision, Snapchat has begun bringing back snippets of the old version and merging them with the new app. Snapchat recently confirmed a test that brings Stories from friends into the Discover tab, creating less of (but not completely bridging) the separation between brands and friends. And now, it’s more than just a test — apparently, Snapchat has rolled out the redesigned redesign (which is to say, the old design) to the “majority” of iOS users. There’s no word yet on the status of the Android app, but it seems that a re-redesign could be coming soon there, too.
This new (or old) version puts Stories from friends into the Discover tab. The change is somewhat similar to Snap’s earlier design that mixed all the Stories in one place. In the test, The Discover tab has sections for friends, a separate section for subscriptions, and another for suggested content.
The move isn’t exactly like the original Snapchat — those Stories are on the same page, but not inside the same stream. That means if you tap a Story from the friends category on the Discover page, that won’t be mixed in with brand content — you’ll still have to head to the subscription section to view content from brands. Separating companies from people was a big focus for Snapchat’s new design and while the test could make Stories easier to find, the network isn’t completely bridging the gap between those two groups.
A Snapchat spokesperson noted that “we’re always listening to our community,” suggesting the change is in response to the user feedback that followed the redesign. Some users complained that they couldn’t find Stories from friends with the separation while others said they didn’t like how subscriptions were mixed in with Stories from users that they don’t yet follow.
Snapchat rolled out several more minor changes since the previous controversial update, designed to make the app simpler to navigate for users while also separating friends from brands. Stories can now be shared outside the app on the web, while the app also gained new text and mute options.
Updated on May 20: Snapchat’s redesign was apparently a top-down push from Evan Spiegel himself.