Snapchat is getting a redesign.
- Snap announced on Tuesday plans to redesign its core product, Snapchat.
- Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said that users have told him the Snapchat app is "difficult to understand" and "hard to use."
- The app redesign may pose a risk to Snap's business because the company doesn't yet know "how the behavior of our community will change."
Snapchat's founder admitted that the company's app is too difficult to use on Tuesday and vowed to redesign it, a startling move to abandon one of its core features less than a year after the company went public.
"One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback," Snap founder and CEO Evan Spiegel said on the conference call with analysts on Tuesday, "As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use. "
Spiegel admitted the redesign could initially have a negative impact on Snap's business.
"We don't yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application," Spiegel said. "We're willing to take that risk for what we believe are substantial longterm benefits to our business."
The move is a big admission that the Snapchat mobile app, famous for a design that often leaves older users perplexed, is creating problems for the company now it it is traded on the public markets and must satisfy investor demands for growth.
And it came as Snap reported disastrous third quarter results, marred by everything slowing user growth and a hefty $40 million charge as a result of misjudging demand for its hardware product. Snap's stock sank more than 16% in after hours trading on Tuesday.
A new kind of content feed
Spiegel declined to say when the redesigned app would roll out during the post-earnings conference call on Tuesday.
"We've been spending a lot of time studying the evolution of content feeds on mobile," he said, referring to rivals Twitter and Facebook.
He pointed to Facebook's "friend-based" newsfeed as a product that limits how much new content users can receive.
"There’s a really exciting opportunity here for another evolution of the content feed that addresses some of the shortcomings of the friend-based feed," Spiegel said.
The redesigned app would aim to make it easier to discover content on the platform and give users a more personalized experience, Snapchat said. Users will eventually have their own Stories experience using machine learning, but "without compromising the editorial integrity of the Stories platform," Spiegel wrote.
But the planned redesign also carries a big risk that it could turn off the teenage users that represent Snapchat's core audience.
Asked about the risk during the call, Spiegel said the redesign would be tested internally and with outside users before it is released.
"We don't know how it's going to play out," he said.
But, Spiegel added, "over time we’ve learned not to to be fearful of making big product changes that we think are in the best interest of our community."