Snap users fuming over app's new design

Some Snap (SNAP) users have taken to -- what else -- social media to voice their displeasure over the app's recent redesign.

The company, best known for its Snapchat video messages that are popular with teens and young adults, recently cleaved the app into two sections, with media content on the right and friends content on the left. 

According to some Snapchat users, the changes have made the site worse. A petition started on Change.org, which has attracted 580,000 signatures, calls on the Venice, Calif., company to change the site back to its previous layout. 

"There is a general level of annoyance among users, and many have decided to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app to go back to the old Snapchat, as that's how annoying this new update has become," the petition says. "Many 'new features' are useless or defeats the original purposes Snapchat has had for the past years."

"They needed to pull off the Band-Aid and do an app redesign," Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research at GBH Insights. "As we have seen over the last year, the complexity and the nature of the Snap app was not appealing to older (users)."

The site remains highly popular among younger users. According to eMarketer, Snapchat overtook both Instagram and Facebook in terms of total users aged 12 to17 and 18 to 24 for the first time last year. Snapchat also is adding younger users at a faster rate than Facebook, the largest social network.

"Kids expect everything to work flawlessly and are notoriously fickle," said Michael Pachter an analyst with Wedbush Securities, in an email. He also expressed surprised that Snap didn't test the new site before launching it. 

"My kids are both 18 and are bitterly complaining about it," Pachter said.

Snap has been under pressure from Wall Street analysts to broaden its appeal after Facebook (FB), which offered to buy the company for $3 billion in 2013, began offering a sharing feature and camera filters called "stories" that is nearly identical to Snapchat. 

During its latest quarter, Snap reported better-than-expected financial results as it added more users than expected, although the company's net loss more than doubled. 

Addressing Wall Street analysts during the company's recent earnings conference call, Snap Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company is monitoring the rollout of the site design and will make adjustments based on feedback from users.

Key Snap metrics around content consumption and time spent on the site are "disproportionately higher for users over the age of 35, which bodes well for increasing engagement among older users as we continue to grow our business," he said.

To be sure, other social media sites including Facebook and Twitter (TWTR) have previously angered users with site changes, while ultimately continuing to grow.

"Updates as big as this one can take a little getting used to, but we hope the community will enjoy it once they settle in," a Snap spokesman said in an email.

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    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.