Snapchat might be changing its mind on the redesign that recently caused a huge wave of criticism .
The social media app’s overhaul separated branded content from snaps that users’ friends shared. It also placed content from celebrities and influencers in the same place as marketers’ stories.
Though Snapchat’s redesign was meant to court brand managers and open the platform to more advertising opportunities, it brought swift backlash from users who complained the app was confusing and hard to navigate.
On Tuesday, reports surfaced that Snapchat is testing a new interface where user-generated stories and branded content are in the same place—similar to the way the app functioned before its redesign.
But the latest update isn’t a full reversion to the Snapchat of old; there is one key difference. While the celebrity and user content will all exist on the Discover page, they will be separated into two sections. That means that unlike Instagram stories, users won’t see one of their friend’s stories immediately followed by one from a celebrity. But it also means a user’s feed won’t be dominated by the celebrity content, ensuring that they can still see the stories their friends have shared.
For now, only a small number of users will see this change. Snap has not announced when or whether all users will receive the update.
Journalists have ventured a few theories as to why Snapchat is making this move, including making scorned users happy and increasing views on stories shared through the app.
It’s a small change, and a Snap spokesperson says it’s just a test, but it’s also a big deal, mostly because Snap was very adamant about keeping friend content and professional content separate when it unveiled the redesign late last year.
So why is Snap doing this? It’s not entirely clear, though a company spokesperson who confirmed the change added that, “We are always listening to our community and will continue to test updates that we hope will give Snapchatters the best possible experience on our platform.”
There’s no question that the Snapchat redesign prompted harsh criticism—when your stock price drops because Kylie Jenner said she’d stopped using your app, you sit up and take notice. Snap may be trying to appease critics by reverting to the old ways. It’s not certain that Stories use has dropped as a result of the split, but it wouldn’t be surprising. And as Recode observed, there’s a chance that Snap would use its unified Stories as a way to pitch professional content . If you have to glance at the latest big-name shows in order to catch your friend’s concert snap, you might be more inclined to watch those shows.
The one certainty: this would represent a fundamental shift in philosophy. The Snap spokesperson noted that the test interface revolves around “users’ behavior, not just relationships.” It’s about what you’re trying to do, not who you’re doing it with — a simple strategy for a company that has lately been accused of making things unnecessarily complex.
“… Clearly [Snapchat’s] redesign wasn’t perfect, and now it’s trying to find the right layout and balance of user content and professional content,” Recode‘s Kurt Wagner wrote.
Snapchat is also testing additional features to entice users to use its platform.
On Wednesday , the company announced “Snappables,” which are augmented reality lenses that enable users to control the lenses via facial expressions, motion and touch. Users can play games and challenge friends to compete.
Though Snapchat’s attempt to appease users and offer more features might increase users’ time on Snapchat, the move didn’t boost investors’ confidence.
Shares of the social media company plunged Wednesday after it changed its app again—only months after a previous redesign that ticked off users.
Snap ( SNAP ) stock was down 7% in midday trading, putting it more than 15% below the price when it went public last year.