When WhatsApp replaced the old Status feature with a more Snapchat-Stories-like status functionality where the content disappears after 24 hours, little did they know that their users would have a problem with it. A big one.
According to various sources, the app’s app store ratings started coming in the ones and twos where they had previously been mostly fours and fives. There have also been negative reviews from users, like these, carried by Forbes:
“Why ruin a completely functional platform to introduce Snapchat-style status updates?”
“The latest update has destroyed a flawless messenger.”
That resulted in a quick turnaround from WhatsApp and a compromise that involved keeping both functionalities.
WhatsApp is now bringing back the old About Status, the one you change in the About section of the world’s most popular messaging app. And this is what they stated:
“We heard from our users that people missed the ability to set a persistent text-only update in their profile, so we’ve integrated this feature into the ‘About’ section in profile settings. Now, the update will appear next to profile names anytime you view contacts, such as when creating a new chat or looking at Group info. At the same time, we’re continuing to build on the new Status feature that gives people fun and engaging ways to share photos, videos and GIFs with their friends and family throughout their day.”
The Stories-like ephemeral function will remain, but apparently the status function was something that users really liked. So, now, they’re keeping both.
WhatsApp says that the new About Status “will appear next to profile names anytime you view contacts, such as when creating a new chat or looking at Group info.”
The takeaway from all this can only be that WhatsApp – and, thereby, its parent company, Facebook – dropped the ball on several preparatory steps before replacing an untested (at least on WhatsApp) feature with a well-liked and probably well-used one.
But there’s another element to this.
As with Instagram, Snapchat and other niche-content social media networks, users of WhatsApp are fiercely loyal to the UI they’ve been used to all along. In fact, this phenomenon of users attaining a comfort level with familiar options and a familiar look is all-pervasive in the world of technology.
That’s why the maker of any technology product – or any kind of consumer product, for that matter – needs to think a hundred times before they remove a functionality or change something.
Adding features is different, because it doesn’t always break the old habit patterns and mess up muscle memory. Like when they added video calling on top of voice calls. No ruffled feathers there. If someone didn’t like it, they simply chose not to use it.
But if an additional feature messes up the look and feel that users are sensitized to, then it, too, will have a proportionate negative effect.
In this case, WhatsApp seems to have completely miscalculated its move to bring in the new and send out the old. So now, they’re forced into a position of compromise.
You can bet that the next UI or functionality change that comes to WhatsApp will be vetted by a lot more people before it’s rolled out.
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