I’ve been forced to use WhatsApp since started my abroad study in Europe and America. As a relatively frequent user, it was such a confusion for me that – how come this IM app could be so popular among my foreign friends with such a poor design, either in user interface, interaction or back-end logic.
I’d wish to have a discussion over my confusion and list a possible explanation I found, that WhatsApp might have a strong focus on its targeted personas which I am not included in.
“Ridiculous” Product Features
Save Chat Photos to Camera Roll
My camera roll has been kept feeding with some strange photos and videos until I realized they are from the WhatsApp group chat. And this “Save to Camera Roll” has been set on as default and is pretty hidden in the settings. I don’t even know it is an option to turn it off until I have suffered with deleting the photos manually and Google the solution online.
My chats over WhatsApp are mainly work/study-focused, which are full of screenshots of emails and photos of doc instructions, also there can be some funny pictures/videos of friends. However, I truly can not understand, why I should save every single piece of these, and how come it should be a default function.
To Receive Message from Web Client, You Have to Connect Phone to Internet
WhatsApp has a desktop version, which I was quite surprised for their thorough consideration, but it is even more surprising when I found they force you to keep your mobile WhatsApp logged in so as to use the desktop WhatsApp. I am pretty confused and cannot find the reason why they set this restriction, which absolutely affects the user experience in some cases like low power or Internet speed of the phone.
The Hidden “Add New Contact”
Another funny thing happens when I want to add a new friend on WhatsApp, who is also not familiar with it. I went through every possible pages and buttons to find out the “Add New Contact”, but still failed. Until recently I found it’s been hidden in the “Draft” icon in the chat list page, which you have to tap at least 3 tabs to access.
Why Facebook or Twitter has been crazily pushing you possible contacts that interests you, and you could easily reach anyone in the world through search bar, but WhatsApp is so reluctant to help you add a friend that is standing by your side and want to find you as well.
I Am Not The Targeted Persona
Though there are plenty of features in WhatsApp that sound ridiculous to me, the instinct as a designer leads me to make sense of it, especially in view of its popularity among billions of users. It comes to me that, possibly, I am not the target personas of WhatsApp.
The “Save Chat Photos to Camera Roll” is not suitable for me, but can be extremely helpful for families and close friends, who cares each other’s daily lives and love to collect photos/videos for memory.
The limitation of desktop WhatsApp has compromised to its end-to-end encryption, which protects the messaging privacy of users, so families/close friends can confidently talk around even some sensitive and secret topics.
The “Add New Contact” function is hardly discoverable, but WhatsApp integrates their features into iPhone’s contacts, through which they could directly send messages to friends’ and family’s WhatsApp account without any friend request/approval.
All in all, WhatsApp enables plenty of interesting features that caters to family and friends users, and have a strong focus on their needs instead of mine, of whom uses it for working mostly. The perfect persona that WhatsApp targets might be:
- 21-year-old sophomore;
- has lots of close friends and hang around with them frequently;
- actively share their daily lives with friends and families, and make fun of each other;
- love to interact and share interesting photos/videos of each other;
- frequently use message app for instant contact.
This is a possible assumption, but maybe WhatsApp just lacks the sense of user experience.