Instagram’s Missed Opportunity

Instagram showcased it’s colorful (& humorously criticized) new logo, along with some sleek UX/UI changes yesterday.  Instead of adding to the millions of meme’s already out there (which I admit would be a TON of fun), I’d like to highlight what I consider to be a bigger issue with their move:  It was a huge missed opportunity.

Let’s think for a moment about some of the top social media apps thriving in the habitat of everyone’s phone:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

How many of them have drastically changed their icon in the way that Instagram just did?  With these apps living on millions of peoples phone’s, any drastic change is the equivalent of waking up with a new piece of furniture in your room, or a different car in your driveway.  The point is that the icon drew SO much attention, and unfortunately that is all it did.

Since they are essentially the only app that has made a drastic change to their icon, they could have maximized all this attention to drive something more, like a new bold product feature.

I do agree that Instagram as a product was overdue for some sort of refresh.  I loved when they introduced the “Explore” page and thought it was a brilliant product feature add.  If they had coupled all this noise (& essentially re-branding) with a bold new product feature, the conversation would shift from “Hey did you see Instagrams new dishwasher icon?” to “Do you agree with Instagram’s new direction & product feature(s)?”  

Instagram could have in turn collected a TON of valuable information on any new bold directions, feedback, and could have garnered deep consumer insights of their product itself.

Instead – what they’ve done is called designers (as well as trolls) out of the woods to criticize what is clearly a subjective topic.  Regardless of users opinions, Instagram’s functionality largely remains the same.

Instagram also stated the reason for the UX/UI change was driven by the desire to draw more attention to the user generated content.  While I agree that the focus should, and always be on the user generated content, their statement implies that their current theme was somehow distracting to the experience of photos and videos.   I’ve been using Instagram for a while, but I’ve never thought to myself, “Man, this blue theme is really throwing off the RBG values of this photo I’m looking at!”

All this talk is pretty much useless without some sort of revised proposition.  Without it, I would just sound like a grumpy 80 year old complaining about how nobody uses VHS anymore 🙂

What I would have loved to see with this update:

  • Instagram creates a feature that allows users to digest content in a different way (or maybe a cool addition to the Explore page)
  • Using their new logo and UX/UI layout to get people talking about their product features.
  • Positioning it as a product rebranding and/or refresh, instead of an aesthetic change.

Instagram is still doing insanely well as a business, and is projected to significantly increase revenue in 2016-17, so in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think this isn’t that huge of a deal.  While I commend them for the bold icon change, I would have loved to see them equally make a bold product feature change to maximize the attention they’re getting 🙂

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