Instagram | UX/UI Mobile Design | April 2016
Instagram is a mobile app with the intention of capturing and sharing its 300+ million community member's moments. Instagram has now become a hub for visual storytelling for people ranging from brands, celebrities, newsrooms or anyone with a creative passion.
For 8-days, I was assigned a hypothetical situation, tasked with the responsibility of introducing a customizable and purchasable feature for a user’s Instagram photos.
"Instagram has spotted a hole in the market and would like to introduce a new feature allowing users to print their digital memories, extending Instagram’s existing digital experience into the real world."
(Photo above: Mashable)
The Process: Discovery & Research
As we started to kick off this project, we wanted to understand who Instagram was up against. We also needed to see what current users are saying about their habits with printing photos so that we can design for their need rather than assuming what they might need. We would also need to focus our energy in to creating for our target audience, so the creation of personas would be an integral part to our discovery and research.
We started our research by pulling from the current competitors in the printing industry, and there were quite a few. We concentrated our efforts and focused in a handful of competitors that might give Instagram a run for its money. For our competitive landscape, we needed to see what was out on the marketplace and what was currently being used as options.
There are many viable options for customers to choose to print their photos, but what sets them all apart? We researched each platform to compare each brand with Instagram as well as a heuristic evaluation for each. We then supported our comparative analysis with user interviews with 9 different current users of the Instagram app.
- 9 different users — 4 women/5 men. Ages 23–38
- 6 of 9 users access Instagram more than once per day
- 7 of 9 users have printed photos they’ve taken to decorate their homes
“I like printing permanent moments that have significance to my life.” — Peter
We knew we were onto something good. The interviews also shed light on some insights that users really wanted to have their pictures reflect their personality as well as users being able to continue to control the quality and look of their photos.
We then translated our user interviews into statements that would be later categorized into an affinity map. These statements would be some of our filters for creating our personas for our targeted audience. Here are a few:
“I want to reflect on memories with my photos”
“I like to express myself through photos”
“My pictures are a reflection of my personality”
During our affinity mapping and the start of our persona creation, we discovered there are two main types of Instagram customers. There are entry level consumers and aspiring or professional photographers. These two types of people lead the way for us to create our personas.
During this research phase, we discovered one big outstanding item — Intellectual property and the use of professional photos. We knew we had to address this concern, but had to place this on hold as we continued our research.
The Process: Ideation
With our initial findings, interviews, and affinity maps, we came to the conclusion of two main targeted personas. Each one unique with their use of Instagram, and each with their own needs. However, one clear through line with both, they both needed a clean, clear and easy way to check out.
Taking this information, we chose Harper as our primary persona, as we believe there are more consumer based Instagram users, rather than professional photographers. However, through the rest of our process we knew that Kyle had to be in our mind so that we would also meet his needs as an Instagram user.
Now that we had an ideal customer persona in mind, it was time to take our ideas and put them out on paper.
We started with rough sketches of what the flow could potentially be, and walked a through what the feature addition could be like and the potential checkout flow. We gathered insights on providing the customer with options for delivery and pickup as well as providing an option of paper quality, which we didn’t think about until the walkthrough.
We knew there was a lot to consider, but there was one issue that we had to address: Photo editing.
From our research, we knew that Instagram users, whether consumer or professional, wanted to edit their photos. So we had to address this within our design.
We weren’t ecstatic about our first version as it was incorporating gestures that weren’t pre-existing in the app already. We had to continue to remind ourselves that the new addition needed to seem as if it was intentionally designed for Instagram.
We took time to apply ourselves to a design studio, time where each of us time boxed ourselves into refining our ideas, and through that process having to force ourselves to make a decision on a design. The design studio process was introduced to me for this project because it was such a creative environment where each member of the team received immediate feedback for their designs, whether they be conservative or liberal.
For the editing feature, we came to the conclusion that the image needs to be able to be cropped, but doesn’t need to be edited. The reason being, Instagram is about capturing the moment, and once that moment is published, post edit features aren’t available to the user. We had to honor this idea. So, we ended up giving the user a choice in product, and product category, allowing the customer to make the decision between the size of their print and any additional cropping the might need to happen.
The Process: Interaction Design
Narrowing the Scope
After our sketching and design studio, we decided to focus our efforts on three main competitors. We chose Print Studio, Postal Picks, and CVS. Each competitor had their advantages, but we knew that these three would be our focus.
We then examined each competitor and their user flow for printing one photo.
We noticed that each competitor had multiple ways of checking out, each one forcing the customer to create a login. So we knew we had to design with efficiency in mind.
We began creating medium fidelity wireframes and started the first iteration of our prototype. With our first round of testing we gathered feedback regarding the flow and layout.
- We created an edit page that had the option of designating the quality of the print. With our first round of testers, each tester assumed that the print would be of a higher quality.
- Our layout of the payment screen confused most testers. They wanted to see their invoice before inputting their payment method.
- Photo editing needed to be clearer. Even after our design studio, our edit page was still too confusing, so we needed to revisit and simplify.
- When on a user’s image that they produced (not a re-post), the menu option wasn’t clear that they could print. We had to add a print button in addition to what was existing.
We knew we had to return back to our sketches and create adjustments and simplify. We had to return to the brand feel to clearly make the right decisions so we are continuing to meet the brand’s needs as well as finding a nice balance with the customer needs.
The Process: Usability tests and iteration
After applying our first round of adjustments, we continued with the usability tests to see what the reactions of our testers. With our prototype, we provided each user with the same two prompts:
- Viewing your photo that you took, please print that photo and pay with credit card
- Viewing your profile, select photos for a photo strip and pay with Apple pay.
With each method of this process came questions. The biggest question of all is intellectual property. For the sake of this conversation I am going to refer back to our personas of Kyle and Harper. If Kyle is a professional photographer and posts his photo to Instagram and Harper reposts it, there isn’t an obligation to credit Kyle for the photo. However, it is a rule of thumb to credit the original photographer, but there aren’t any restrictions put in place.
Now imagine this same concept for printing photos. We designed the printing option to only be visible for Harper’s photos she posted. If Harper were to screenshot and post Kyle’s photo as her own, then she would potentially be able to print that photo. How does Kyle get credit?
If I were to continue with this project, the legal team of Instagram would have to weigh in on this because it is such a big conversation about privacy and intellectual property.