Designing for Snapchat: Tall Rectangles
With Snapchat’s introduction of on-demand customized Geofilters, a whole new canvas has been constructed for artists and designers. It is a limitless realm for creativity, shackled by a set of dimensions that no-one could have predicted would become the standard. Eight years ago we all marveled at how easily we could rotate our smartphones to quickly switch over to a widescreen ratio – turning our devices into cinematic cameras (or really small TVs) instantly. YouTube comment sections were bogged with death threats when someone posted a vertical video. Even I was nagging my friends for filming vertically. It just seemed…wrong.
This criticism was all fair game considering the entire internet as we know it is designed to play landscape oriented video. Our phones are inherently connected to the internet, yes, but they also inherently sit vertical in our hands. The next thing to consider is just how much screen time we have with various devices. In my opinion vertical video has emerged as king for one reason: we spend more time exploring and digesting content on our phones than any other device, by a long shot.
OK back to my point. Snapchat. Its vertical, and it’s here to stay. As the company has evolved into a profitable entity we watched them cash in on their strictly all-vertical-everything stubbornness. And its working. This has presented designers and brands with a new set of specs. Most recently they opened the floodgates to the paying public, which has literally changed my life as a designer.
Its simple: 1080x1920px, transparent, small file size. If you can pull that together, and are willing to pay – you can have your own artwork over your (or whoever’s, really) snaps. Due to the pay system, there is pretty much no limit to what you can do. Because of this we have already seen the worst possible use cases, and the best. Over here at Junction, and on a personal level as a designer – the goal is fun, highly usable, well designed filters.
Having now designed successful filters for everything from a nightclub to a non-profit public event, I can say for sure that one thing remains the same for publicly appealing artwork: alignment of the reason, message, and funness factor of the filter. Booji cliche hipster design has taken a back seat to pure fun. Lets not forget – Snapchat is designed to just simply be fun to use and share. Smart design and some technical items are still a factor of course, but if you want to put a monster truck in your filter, go nuts. People will reward you for acting on your absurd ideas by using the hell out it.
(I know, I know this isn’t a Geofilter it’s a LENS – just enjoy them please and move on)
All of this has presented a unique and new set of challenges for me. I’m no longer just designing another ad unit praying to god that someone will see it and maybe even read it. I’m creating a digital toy of sorts and putting it into the hands of users to play with. And they love it. And so do I. Next time I’ll get into more technical details about the designs, but until then check out some examples of client work below.