Snapchat can be a whole new planet for anyone over 25. That’s why you should read what a 14-year-old has to say about it.

"Bring back the old Snapchat."

By Rishad Patel
Splice Design

Uma Kewlani is 14, in Grade 8, and a seasoned Snapchatter. This American kid lives in Singapore with her parents and her little brother, and has, like anybody else her age, an active social life that may even include meeting her friends IRL. 

Kidding. She has a YouTube channel, performs and writes poetry, is a dedicated gymnast and netball player, loves to sing, and does drama.

We spoke to Uma about what she thinks about the newest new Snapchat.

This is our first Splice Frames story, our weekly design newsletter where we’re exploring that tricky intersection of media and design. 

"It's supposed to be a quick and easy app to use to chat with your friends, but the multiple pages make Snapchat tedious to use." — Uma Kewlani. Photos: Uma Kewlani Illustration: Rishad Patel

How often do you use Snapchat?

On a daily basis, I use Snapchat around 12-15 times a day. I use it for contacting my friends and have started to replace WhatsApp with Snapchat. I tend to send snaps to my friends when what I am saying isn’t so important. But, if I need to tell my friends, perhaps a location, (something more important) I will use the texting feature that Snapchat provides. I used to use my Stories a lot, but now that I have gathered a lot of friends, I don’t use my Story as much. I would say that I use it twice a week.

Recently Snapchat said they wanted to keep your friends’ stories separate from professional stories. But now they seem to have put them back together again. Which one do you prefer?

The professional stories are actually still separate from your friends’ stories, but I would have to say that I prefer when they were together. It can get quite annoying to have to flip to two different pages to see people’s stories. Having all of the stories on one page, separate from news articles and such, is much better.

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What else have they changed about Snapchat? And what has been the change that’s most affected you?

Something else that they have changed is the fact that you can now change the time limit of a snap to infinity. I find that this completely takes away the purpose of Snapchat, which is to write a short sentence and then send it to someone with a 10-second—or under—time limit. Lots of people actually like this update, but I feel it could potentially be dangerous too.

What do you love about the new changes?

I actually do have quite a lot of things that I love. For example, Snapchat has now included GIFs, which makes your snaps really fun and enjoyable. Also, you have a separate page for stories or news articles that you have subscribed to, which is very helpful and convenient.

And what do you absolutely hate?

I absolutely hate the fact that there are multiple pages.

It makes Snapchat so complicated, and it’s not a minimalistic app anymore. Snapchat should be easy to use, and shouldn’t complicate things. It’s supposed to be a quick and easy app to use to chat with your friends.

The multiple pages make Snapchat tedious to use, which is why so many people deleted the app.

If you could design one thing about Snapchat, what would that be? What’s the one thing you absolutely wish for?

These aren’t only my ideas, as I talked to some of my friends about this question. Here are a few improvements that would be great:

  1. Snapchat could make boomerangs a feature, instead of only being able to use them on Snapchat.
  2. Users would be able to save a picture that your friend sends, instead of having to screenshot it and seeing their name in the top left-hand corner of the screenshot. Of course, the person that sends the picture will get a notification if someone saves their snap.
  3. If you post something on your story, you would be able to see how many times one person viewed that picture/video on their Story.
  4. Possibly reduce the number of ads. The ads on Snapchat have started to increase, and it can be very annoying if you are in the middle of watching someone’s Story.
  5. The one that everyone wants is to bring back the old Snapchat (maybe also stop updating the app so frequently, because sometimes it takes a while to get used to a whole new update).
Rishad Patel

Rishad Patel is a product and design professional. He is the co-founder of The Splice Newsroom and is responsible for developing the company’s products and services. Follow Rishad Patel on Twitter.

From this week

Platforms

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Columbia Journalism Review

Governments & policy

Tools

Trends

New Naratif put together a solid story on how the Muslim Cyber Army works in Indonesia.

If you haven’t heard of the MCA (no, not that MCA in Malaysia!), they have been spreading fake news and driving hate speech along religious and ethnic lines. Worrying trend, especially in a country that’s been fighting fake news factories like Saracen. What makes this one different? “MCA looks more ideological, has thousands of networks in different parts of Indonesia and therefore the destructive power of this group is greater than that of Saracen.”
New Naratif

Transformations

The New York Times is partnering with FX and Hulu on a weekly documentary series called…The Weekly.

It centres around stories from the Times and the journalists that work them. This comes hot on the heels of The Daily, their incredible podcast about one daily story from the Times newsroom. This is part of the Times’ ongoing foray into entertainment: A New York Times Magazine feature is going to be a Netflix documentary series, and Brad Pitt bought the movie rights to the story of how the Times broke the Harvey Weinstein story. Also coming: a four-part series for Showtime about the Times newsroom during the first year of the Trump administration.
New York Times

Media startups

Talent

Design

SilverKris, Singapore Airlines’ in-flight magazine, nailed it with their recent redesign by Ink.

I usually have the same attitude to in-flight magazines as I do to, say, a swift slap across the face: I’d really just rather not, thanks. But this reworked version was good enough for me to forget my Economy Class kneelessness, even though the cover is easily the most forgettable part of the whole redesign: a crowded image with no focal point. But here’s why I love this redesign: 1. The layout and typography have integrity in that they are led by the content. 2. The section fronts have bold, opinionated design. 3. The reading experience is immaculate — even though they crowd little surprise nuggets in the gutter. 4. The illustrations by Stuart Patience are delicious. 5. The writing isn’t all travel-fluff and doesn’t suck. 6. Those are some mad infographics skillz. Here's an interview with the Ink creative director.
The Design Air

The Malay Mail did a website redesign.

Load times were a priority, and the new site scores well on that front. The digital team also prioritised monetizing content and enhancing their “programmatic setup”. For me, this is translating into lots of badly-placed ads for pointless leather accessories in duplicate and Outbrain-forward sewage. They are testing a new section with Mandarin content for Malaysians working in Singapore, which says good things about their user research. Structurally, the website is fine, although better hierarchy on the home and story pages would be a good idea. (Also, those Open Sans headlines need some kerning; they’re w a y t o o l o o s e.) I’m impressed with how their head of digital responded to a question about the cost of the revamp: he said the company saw it as an investment rather than an expense. Respect.
Marketing Interactive

The article page is arguably the most vital page for a news website.

Getting it right across platforms is the Holy Grail. Last week, The New York Times took a giant step towards getting it right. This involved streamlining internal efficiencies on their CMS as well as a better user experience across mobile and desktop on web and native apps. Advertising also got a major overhaul: they killed their cluttered right rail of smaller banner ads for larger, full-width, midstream ads for a much cleaner read—and it’s working: “Ads on the new page are achieving twice the click-through rate of our old design, and initial studies show higher brand recall and four-times the reader attention to ads.” Read about the process here.
New York Times

“Hi, so did you hear that crazy phone call that, umm, the Google Duplex robot assistant made to the hair salon?”

She had the whole uptalk (ending verbal statements with that millennialesque question mark subconsciously designed to maximise responsiveness) thing going on? as well as an “mmm-hmmm?” and even an “er”? It wasn’t just how real it was that blew my mind; it was that the person on the other end of the phone was able to have a complete conversation without suspecting anything. I think the tech is amazing; I think the the whole construct is creepy. Would Turing give the bot full marks? Hear it for yourself.
The Guardian

Google’s Duplex bot will now identify itself as a robot on the phone.

There were some serious concerns that Google was putting the ‘dupe’ in Duplex: “Silicon Valley is ethically lost, rudderless and has not learned a thing”. The company has clarified: “It’s important to us that users and businesses have a good experience with this service, and transparency is a key part of that.” What is it going to say, though: “Hey there, I’m Rishad’s bot assistant, so don’t be freaked out.”?
Twitter

Notables