Tech companies are in a UX race and users are behind the wheel. Amidst the rapidly changing market and heated competition to be the first-to-market, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom just shocked the world. When asked about the similarities between Instagram’s new story feature and the popular app Snapchat, Systrom gave all the credit to Snapchat.
Systrom claims he didn’t hijack the feature, he expanded upon it. This is something tech companies do regularly, but Systrom is the first to admit it. His vision of Instagram’s story feature goes far beyond piggybacking off of Snapchat. It’s a broader one. One that calls to attention tech companies’ dependence on user experience (UX) as a whole to deliver fresh and engaging content to their customers.
“…This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it,” Systrom said.
Building On the UX Format
UX is more than a buzzword. In an era of constant digital innovation, it’s something that tech companies are primarily focused on. Something they have to be focused on. It is the broader ‘format’ that Systrom is referring to above.
Instagram borrowed tech from Snapchat because it enhanced Instagram’s UX. The company was losing users to Snapchat, so they did the most logical thing they could do – they paid attention to what users want. Instagram gave users a better experience by catering to popular demand, regardless of the similarity issues that may arise from it.
Other tech companies have built on the UX format as well, but none have been so direct as to give credit to the original concept. Facebook largely borrowed hashtags and the “@” symbol from Twitter; LinkedIn and Twitter borrowed Facebook’s feed feature; and Instagram popularized photo filters, with Facebook and Twitter following suit.
This trend isn’t limited to social media either. Most recently, Google joined the fray by offering its users a feature similar to Apple’s Facetime feature called Google Duo.
Expansion Not Duplication
There’s a lesson to be learned from Systrom’s candidness. Instagram’s story feature is different from Snapchat’s. More options, easier access, and instant data have enhanced Instagram’s UX and made it more engaging. Users that might have jumped ship from Instagram to Snapchat now have a reason to stay.
Expanding upon UX ideas built and developed by other companies is a good way for tech companies to deepen user experience. Companies like Instagram can both draw new users and maintain current ones by offering additional options. Instagram users do not have to create stories, but it’s available to those who demanded it.
A solid UX experience is the driving force behind tech expansion. It helps companies stay fresh, relevant, and retain its loyal users. But when borrowing ‘formats’ in order to build on UX, tech companies have to be able to put their own spin on an idea.