[media-credit name="instagram.com" link="http://blog.instagram.com/post/148348940287/160802-stories" nofollow=1 align="alignnone" width="1000"]Instagram Stories[/media-credit]

Via The Verge:

Facebook’s efforts may pay off. Compared with Snapchat, Instagram is more intuitive for first-time users, and so is its stories feature. Granted, a superior visual aesthetic and more user-friendly navigation doesn’t automatically translate to more sharing. Snapchat has proven that you can hand a teen a gnarled mess of features and they’ll figure out how to master them, so long as their friends are on the network. But if Snapchat wants to keep growing, it faces a new obstacle: a bigger competitor, with a more inviting interface, has cloned its chief innovation.

I've never been the biggest fan of Snapchat. I use it every now and then but I've never really been able to wrap my head around the interface. There's way too much going on. The landing screen (which is covered in icons) is your camera, which you use to send ephemeral images to friends, add pictures to your story, or save photos to your memories. You'll find these screens behind those obscure icons above, left, and right of the initial screen. If this sounds confusing it's because it is.

Sending "snaps" is fairly painless but replying is far more confusing than it should be, with chat hidden behind a right swipe and image replies behind a long press. If you want to rewatch something, you can but I can't for the life of me remember how. Snapchat's Stories section, arguably the best part of the app, is a messy blend of news publications, advertisers, and people you're following. It's rough to say the least.

Enter Instagram's version: A clean, familiar interface, with the new "Stories" feature shown prominently at the top of the feed. To create a new story, users simply click on the icon in the top left, while the messaging feature remains in the top right. In terms of discoverability, you'll find a shortcut in pulling on the left or right of the page you're on to switch immediately to the stories, feed, or messaging features and back instead of using the top buttons. That's it. It's very well put together and couldn't be simpler to use.

Against all odds, the bloated UI clearly hasn't slowed down Snapchat's growth but if companies like Instagram and Twitter can deliver similar features with none of the clunky UI elements, Snapchat's going to be in trouble.