Don’t panic: Snapchat is being redesigned for old people

By Oliver Smith 8 November 2017
Image: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Time Inc.

CEO Evan Spiegel is making a big, bold bet on old bags.

Once upon a time, Snap held up its millennial-centric audience as the defining feature of Snapchat.

But after its first two disappointing quarters as a public company, with its user growth slowing, share price falling and growing investor concerns, CEO Evan Spiegel is planning a sharp change of course.

Snapchat is being redesigned for old people.

“We are going to make it easier to discover the vast quantity of content on our platform that goes undiscovered or unseen every day,” he told analysts, explaining that there’s a “strong likelihood” that the redesign will be disruptive in the short term.

But in the long run, it could give Snap a bigger stronghold among more affluent older audiences.

Read more: Snapchat is about to hit the big time, here’s how millions of Millennials got it there

Image: Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Get Schooled Foundation.

The mystery and mystique of Snapchat

Open Snapchat and you’re sure to be perplexed.

Since 2011 the app has built an entire design language of icons, logos and gestures catering to younger users, but its left the app impossible to navigate or understand to millions.

In fact, Snapchat now finds itself in a similar position to Twitter, having grown a hugely addicted core audience, but with a service that has little appeal beyond that.

Indeed Snapchat only added 4.5m users this quarter, down from 7m last quarter, and with revenue growing slower than expected the service is now looking a lot more like Twitter than Facebook.

That’s a great shame because as we pointed out last year, Snapchat is full of great stuff. Its coverage of the Rio Olympics was second-to-none.

But most people never saw it.

Read more: Forget Facebook or Twitter, Snapchat won gold at the Olympics

A big bold bet

We’ll have to wait and see whether a dramatic redesign is what Snapchat needs to appeal to wider demographics, and whether such a redesign can be achieved without scaring away all those valuable millennials.

In Twitter’s case, critics argue the service took far too long to react to its declining user base, waiting years to extend the length of tweets and cater more to new users.

A quick dramatic redesign, like Snapchat’s, is a big gamble.

Let’s just hope it pays off.