How do I take an app beloved by millions and make it even more lovable?

An UI/UX Case Study on how to improve the current Instagram model.

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The Idea: 

To take Instagram, an App that I'm unconditionally obsessed with and add this "extra feature" idea. The idea itself was in my head for the past few years, ever since I set my eyes on these beautiful Instagram pages with their enviable profile with consistent filters, colour palette and imagery. Who are these people and why isn't my profile like that was my first question. Suddenly these Instagram "theme" became ever so popular and they were everywhere. The trend set by the influencers, MUA's and lifestyle vloggers, those accounts with a "theme" garnered hundreds of followers. After this, I got super excited and tried the following one myself and failed miserably. It took more effort, time and planning than I had anticipated and besides my third year at the Uni wasn't a piece of cake so I had to give it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                       
 

Instagram "themed" account for reference

 

 

 

Problem Statement:

  1.  Instagram offers a number of filters, but most users tend to dislike the existing filters and "create" their own. This has to be done every time they upload a new image and can be quite tedious.

  2.  Once posted these pictures cannot be re-edited or rearranged. Some might argue that that's Instagram's whole niche and they like it to be that way, but hey Instagram abandoned their chronological algorithm so why shouldn't we?

  3. There is too much dependency on external apps to edit pictures

Objective:

So what is the idea? 

The idea is to take Instagram and add this "extra feature" where users can have a preset filter to go by their theme, and also have the ability to re-edit and rearrange their photos according to their needs.

Brief:

I started using Instagram almost 8 years ago for its magical filters. Since then both Insta and I have come a long way.

As of Feb 2020, Insta has a whopping I billion active users with over 50 million daily users. It remains one of the most widely sought after resource for businesses.

Instagram is an entirely visual medium and nothing works better for an online business than visuals.

 

Better visual = Better Engagement = Better Traffic

 

There are 3 major ways to make money using Instagram:

  • Work as an influencer- post your content and sponsor products

  • As an affiliate marketer- sell other people's products

  • Entrepreneur- Sell your own products

 

The importance of having an Instagram theme:

An Instagram profile can be easily described as a personal portfolio, which means the better it looks, the higher the engagement. This leads to our question of how does having a theme help in this? The answer is simple, having a consistent theme will help gain and retain attention. "Retain" being the key takeaway here. When someone comes across your profile you need to/ want them to stay back and follow you.

 

The aim: Make your profile "aesthetically pleasing" enough to generate interest.

GOALS I SET

For the Design:

  • To help facilitate the current engagement.

  • To design an easier/comfortable user empathetic experience.

  • To allow the users to have slightly better control over their content.

For myself:

  • To learn how to better interact with people while conducting contextual inquiries, user research and increase my active listening skills.

  • Learn to design better wireframes and prototypes.

  • Thoroughly analyze and research the current Instagram model and get a deeper understanding of its algorithm.

  • Complete my first design project from start to finish all by myself.

Roles assumed during the process:

  1. User Research

  2. Data Analyst

  3. UI UX Designer

  4. Product Designer

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A picture of my very messy disorganised desk that helps me organise my thoughts

The Approach:

I took the data for a total of 100 people. I conducted a few interviews in person, over the phone and sent out surveys, On the risk of sounding completely brazen, I reached out to a few UI/UX experts I'd been following on Insta. I wanted an "expert's" opinion about Instagram's interface. Many of them helped me with my questions and corrected my Inquiry style. It's a valuable lesson I had not planned on getting but it was a major learning point all the same. After getting their thoughts and input on how the questions were to be designed, and how a short survey got better results than a long one, I corrected my interview style.

For these interviews, I targeted and categorised 3 types of Instagram accounts.

 

70 Private Accounts or  "followers" mostly comprised of friends, family and acquaintances

 

20 Business Accounts / Private verified Account "wanted more followers" such as Instagram influencers, lifestyle bloggers etc
   

10 "Themed" Instagram accounts that currently maintain a theme, to get a clear understanding of their process, necessity and needs.

        Key insights from the research:

 

Before I started the designing process I wanted to get a better idea of whom I'm designing for. 

From my research analysis, I figured out my target audience:

  1. Users who use Instagram for business and want more followers

  2. Users who depend a lot on the visual appeal of their profile

  3. Users(like me) who'd like a better-looking profile

 

 

 

User Demo:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the people I interviewed were between the ages of 22-28. People over the age of 28 felt that they don't really have the time unlike the full-time insta users to edit and maintain a theme. They wished to have an easier way to run their business.

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram Usage:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 67% of the people I interviewed admitted to using Instagram hours together a day. Research shows that over 80% of insta users follow a Business Account. 2/3 profile visits to a business account come from people who aren't following that business.


After analyzing the data I obtained, I divided up the users into two broad categories to get both the perspective and see how this feature will impact both.

Those who follow

Those who wanted followers.

I asked the 20 people with their business accounts, how important they thought a pleasant-looking profile is, the most commonly found answers were "It grabs people's attention", "aesthetics are important", "presentation matters"

I then asked the "followers" what makes them follow a certain page for which the most common answers were "good content", "impressive profile", "good photos".

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Affinity Mapping

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Initial Scribble ideas

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User Personas:

 

Based on the extensive research conducted I came up with 3 user personas one for each category.

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"I like my old pictures so I don't want to remove them, but I wish they had a better filter on "

-Claire

"I use customised filters and hate having to do them all over again., it takes too long a time"

 

-Luke

"I think a good themes account is important for my business, but it's a lot of work"

 

-Malvika

Feature Idea 1

Shown below are screenshots that show the current workflow of posting a picture on Instagram

Upload Photo.png

user first uploads an image.

Insta Filter.png

User is presented with a number of filter options

edit brightness.png

By adjusting the options, the user makes the necessary changes

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The user then shares his 

photo

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user can either proceed to share or use edit 

This workflow is used by most of the users. From the people i interviewed with the business account holders use professional apps such as lightroom, snapseed,photoexpress etc to edit their images. Those who used Instagram's editing features chose a particular filter and tweaked them up a bit. They played with the brightness, saturation, warmth etc. While reviewing this workflow I felt that going through the same editing process could be made easier by "saving" their changes as a new feature. So I came up with an extra feature idea.

Current workflow

1.User first uploads the image

 

2.User is then presented with a number of filter options to choose from.

 

3. The User then chooses to edit his picture.

4. Under the edit option, the user is presented with several choices such as brightness, contrast, sharpness etc

 

5. After editing the image the user proceeds to share it.

Proposed prototype

1.User first uploads the image

 

2.User is presented with a number of filter options to choose from.

 

4. The user then chooses the edit option

 

5. The user then makes changes to his picture.

 

6. Once the user is done with the editing, he has the option of saving the changes he made as a new filter.

 

7. The user saves the filter.

8. User shares the image.

Upload Photo.png

user first uploads an image.

edit brightness.png

By adjusting the options, the user makes the necessary changes

edit_brightness_–_1.png

The user can then share his filter

Insta Filter.png

User is presented with a number of filter options

Save filter.png

When user clicks "next" he's presented with save your filter option.

Edit Mode.png

user can either proceed to share or use edit 

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The user then types in his filter name and clicks save

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Next time the user uploads an image, he can just use his pre-saved filter 

Shown below are screenshots of the proposed workflow of posting a picture on Instagram

I thought of integrating the save filter option 2 ways.

option 1 was to have a save button at the end of the edit options.

option 2 was to integrate it along with the "next" option.

I ultimately decided to use option 2  because during the contextual inquiry I conducted users had a slight tendency to forget the save option.

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Option 1

Option 2

Feature Idea 2

This feature idea is to let users rearrange their pictures on their profile according to their choice and not chronologically the way it appears.

I've included this feature so it's easier for the users to maintain a theme. In this case, Carrie would like to move her image so that the pink aligns with the pink.

Now, will this affect her reach or likes? no.

Just because a user moves their photo it doesn't necessarily show up in his/her followers feed.

 

The users' long press on the picture they wish to move around, and simply slide it. Now users won't have to think long and hard about posting another picture.

 

I sincerely believe that incorporating the aforementioned ideas will most definitely help produce a better experience. As a daily Instagram user myself, there were a countless number of time that I wished I could undo a few pictures. I also wanted to include an idea where people could re-apply a filter, or re-do a filter once their picture is posted. However after a quick skim through Instagrams backend database I found out that they don't save the original picture with them, so I shelved the idea. 

Final Thoughts

More Projects 

I was really excited about working with this project. I took it to simply to hone my design skills. Starting out as a developer I realised my passion for design and took a leap of faith and decided to pursue it. This case study helped me master the basics pretty well and learn several new techniques. My biggest challenge was designing the  "save" button option for the filters, I wasn't sure which one to go with. Reflecting on my work here so far, I can proudly say I'm happy with what I've achieved. 

One of the best things I've realised about being a designer is that inspiration is everywhere. Literally. I learned loads from the ubiquitous resources found online While looking at other designer's owning and mastering their craft inspires me to be a better designer.

And that's all folks! Thank you so much for reading!

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