Ten years ago Instagram was a simple place. You could share photos, you could view photos, and that was about it. Fast forward to 2021 and it’s a beast with many tentacles. There are Reels, Stories, Story Highlights, Posts, IGTV, Marketplace, Promoted Posts and Direct Messages.
And it’s a similar story for many other digital products that have become the mainstay of our lives online. As features have proliferated, these platforms have become more and more complex and, for many worlds, overwhelming to inhabit. This is reflected in their design, with apps, websites, and streaming services chock-full of options, menus, and buttons, often making them more difficult to understand and use, even for users who are proficient in the language. digital. Services that we once loved to do one thing are now doing 12, and often none of them very well.
Matt Rice, co-founder and creative director of digital products studio Sennep, agrees that these platforms are getting more complex. After Instagram’s last update, he says he struggled with figuring out how to post a photo or check notifications – two basic functions that underpin Instagram’s whole purpose. “I think they’re over-presented,” he told CR. “It was very simple when the main goal was to share photos, to follow the people you love, to follow your friends and family to see what they are doing… but it’s definitely bloated. These new updates are really driven by the business rather than the user experience. “
We had this ‘do one thing’ approach in the app boom, and it seems to have fallen through.