Snapseed is a mobile photo editing app created by Google.

What I Did
Moderator for the participant sessions and assisted with creating the final 311 page report.

Conduct market research to determine usability issues in Snapseed from online reviews and ratings and our own experiences using the app. Novice and experienced photography users were recruited to test the app’s intuitiveness, power, and workflows.

The main issues found were visibility and discover-ability of features, intuitiveness, easy of use, feedback, discriminability, and efficiency.

Ideas for solving these issues include renaming the “Insights” option to “Getting Started” to help convey it’s purpose to users and adding tutorials to explain features when needed.

Researcher and Test Participant Moderator (Team of 4)
Academic Project
Jan 2017 – May 2017
Usability Evaluation
Qualitative Analysis, Usability Testing, Usability Principles, Video and Screen Recording, In-Person Moderating, Behavioral, Objective, and Subjective Measures, Levels of Severity
Snapseed Mobile App, 2 Cameras, Screen Recording Software
Project Link

For this project my team and I were given the app Snapseed to perform a usability evaluation on. The primary things we were asked to do were to:

  1. Perform market research on the app’s usability issues from online reviews and ratings, as well as our own experiences using it.

  2. Create a usability test plan based off of issues found.

  3. Test participants with the test plan, changing it when needed depending on what is found during testing.

  4. Create a usability evaluation determining what the issues found during testing were and create suggestions on how to fix them.

Market Research

Our team started by going through reviews of Snapseed online, our own experiences looking at the app, and competing product reviews. We focused only on issues reported that related to usability. And at this stage for our own look at the app, we thought about what was confusing immediately for us to use as a basis for creating our test plan.


The two subgroups established for this study were novice photographers (e.g. Instagram users) and experienced photographers (e.g. professional photographers). Each of these groups were recruited via the team’s personal connections. Each participant was screened beforehand to determine which subgroup they would be placed in.

Images of the video recording done of the user’s screen and facial expressions primarily to make it easier to go back and double-check the findings at the end of the test session.

Moderated Usability Testing

Then each participant was tested in-person on behavioral, objective, and subjective measures using a variety of methods such as:

  1. Being asked to complete specific tasks (ex: open the Tools menu).

  2. Being given goals to complete (ex: make this picture look old-fashioned).

  3. Or what their first impressions of the app were.

The scripts were unique for each testing subgroup to better obtain usability issues specific to experienced users versus novice ones.

I would love more description on all the tools under ‘Tune Image’. and I would change
the background of these icons from white to something more descriptive (tools). Like
‘Details’ – man that triangle is not helping me at all here.

[Snapseed] is way more complicated [than competing apps]. It’s really complicated. Like
I get it but the first few times it’s frustrating to use. Like it’s not explained very well. I use
VSCO, Afterlight, Layout, Instagram and ‘boom boom boom’ done! This one takes a little
more effort.

Issues 2, 3, and 5.

The main issues we found in Snapseed had to do with:

  1. Visibility and Discoverability – many commonly used features were hidden below the fold.

  2. Intuitiveness – icons did not convey their purpose well.

  3. Ease of Use – sliders were not precise enough.

  4. Feedback – brush tool did not show impact area.

  5. Discriminability – three different save options that were not different enough.

  6. Efficiency – opening and searching for a photo to edit takes too much horizontal scrolling.

Click here for the final Snapseed Usability Evaluation

Click here for the final Snapseed Usability Evaluation