What Instagram is Teaching Us About Innovation of UX Features
Instagram has announced that it will begin to test the removal of “like” totals from the platform in the US. While users will still be able to see who has liked their post, the overall number of likes on a given post will be hidden from followers. Certain users have begun to see this update take effect on their account, while other accounts remain the same.
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, says that the company is attempting to “depressurize” the platform and make it less of a popularity competition. The news of this test has been met with mixed reviews from celebrities and influencers.
Regardless of any philosophical debates about the merits, drawbacks, or rationale of the update, Instagram’s move to test the removal of the like count feature has a lot to teach us about continuous experimentation and innovation when it comes to user experience.
Here are 3 things we can learn from Instagram about how to test out new UX features for web applications.
1. Study your users’ needs.
Mosseri says that this proposed update is an attempt to make the platform a safer place to interact for today’s young people by removing the social pressures that come with vanity metrics. And the key performance indicator in this test will be the rise or fall of authentic and meaningful engagement — by whatever standard Instagram uses to measure online social interaction on its platform (such as statistics like time spent on the platform and number of comments posted and/or direct messages sent).
Research has indicated that engagement on the platform has been declining in recent months. It’s conceivable that Instagram hopes that this change will stem the tide and help them regain some traction.
When setting out to test a new or updated feature on your application in hopes of improving the user experience and deepening engagement, it’s important to learn how to anticipate your users’ desires and needs.
You can gather information about your users through surveys or by tracking how they use your application. Once you have gathered the data, begin to brainstorm about how the experience might be improved. Ask yourself what the particular points of friction or dissatisfaction may be, and then begin developing solutions.
2. Be strategic about your rollout.
Instagram may be making a bold move, but it has still been very strategic. Before taking testing to American users, Instagram had already done testing in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy, and Japan.
Nevertheless, America has far and away the largest number of Instagram users of any nation in the world. And knowing that the rollout would likely make a splash in the American news circuit, it’s unlikely that Instagram would roll out testing to the US if the project had been an abject failure with users in these seven other nations. So while we do not know the exact results of the test in other countries, they are apparently encouraging enough that Instagram is ready to take it to the largest pool of users.
When dreaming of and then developing new user features for your web applications, boldness must always be tempered by good strategy. While your big update may well end up being a revolutionary improvement to your application, don’t risk alienating your users with a new feature that may be controversial or disorienting.
Do enough research to feel reasonably confident that it could be accepted as an improvement to the user experience. Then be strategic about when to roll it out (and to whom).
3. Listen to the data.
When interviewed, the head of Instagram has spoken about the testing of the removal of like counts in purely ideological terms, speaking about fostering safe online community. And it makes sense. The best updates to any application are people-driven. They’re motivated by a desire to create the most pleasant and engaging user experience possible.
But the most important indicator of success isn’t the virtue of your ideas. It’s how users actually respond to the new or updated feature. Executives and developers alike must always be willing to hold to hard evidence, even if it contradicts their personal motivations or preferences regarding a feature. That means collecting good data and then listening to what it’s ruthlessly telling you.
We will have to see what the data says for Instagram and the display of like counts. It will likely determine whether the like count is removed for good. But more importantly, their story illustrates how even organizations that have provided very successful user experiences in the past must continue to innovate and be willing to make major changes to their applications.
Innovate user experience with Entando.
Entando is the leading open source UX innovation platform for building modern enterprise applications on Kubernetes. We understand that the most successful enterprises are organizations that consistently deliver user experiences that are intuitive and convenient. So we built a platform to help you build modern web applications that do just that.
By allowing for a more iterative approach to updates with a microservice and micro frontend architecture, Entando allows you to innovate UX features more quickly. With our modern development stack, we’re removing barriers to innovation so that you can put your focus on your users.
If you’re interested in learning more about our platform or setting up a call with us, visit our Services Page.