This article was originally published by 微互动. Hats off to them for the breakdown. Click here to read the original article in Chinese.
Have you noticed the big changes to WeChat? This week Tencent released WeChat 6.7.0 with some of the biggest changes to the user experience since WeChat was first released in 2011. These updates affect WeChat subscription accounts, and will have a significant impact on how users interact with these accounts moving forward.
Click here for a quick refresher on the difference between WeChat Service and WeChat Subscription Accounts.
So what do you need to know about the latest update?
Emphasis on timeliness
Before: Articles from your favorited subscription accounts are displayed at the top of the list, and then the remaining accounts appear in chronological order of publish time. All unread articles are marked with red dots.
After: The update now arranges Subscription Account articles so that the user sees recently published articles first, in chronological order by publish date and time. New, unread articles will appear above a divider - allowing users to see the latest information at first glance.
Implication: The new display sequences weakens the role of "Top" function and puts more emphasis on the newest updates，which is similar to the interface of "have a look (看一看)”.
Cover and title are more important
Before: In the Subscription Account menu, all accounts were displayed in the form of a list, if you wanted to read an article, you clicked on the account to expand it. From here you could view any & all attached articles then click on a headline to read the article in full.
After: Articles are displayed in the form of a logo + account name + title + header card. After clicking on the picture you can directly view the content so that the process is much more simple. In addition the summary text has also been removed from the display.
Implication: The card style is more attractive than a list, and increases users’ desire to click and read articles. Without the summary, the cover picture and title plays and even more crucial role in attracting followers to read the article.
Size of cover picture
Before: Headline cover size = 900x500
After Headline cover size = 900x383
Implication: Previously used covers need to be resized if you use a reoccurring template.
Less information displayed
Before: Articles were displayed in order of update time and only the main article headline was shown in the list. By clicking on the headline you could then view any and all sub articles.
After: Users can see up to two articles displayed from a Subscription Account. If there are more than two articles in one push post, the user can manually click to expand the rest of the articles and view on the same screen.
Implication: The updated improves the exposure of headlines (the main article) and the second article, however if there is a 3rd, fourth or even up to eight sub articles, the exposure is more limited. This could reduce the effectiveness of advertisements placed in anything below the second article.
No distinction between unread information and read information
Before: The red dots in the subscription account menu indicated that you have not read the article before.
After: There is no distinction between the read and unread articles in the subscription account menu. In addition, you can also see how many of your WeChat contacts have read the article as well.
Implication: After the revision, the distinction between read and unread information is weakened.
The updated count of how many WeChat contacts have read the article strengthens the apps already robust social attributes, making it more likely for popular articles to gain even more traction.
Stars replaced “Sticky on Top”
Before: Users could choose to “sticky on top” their favorite Subscription Accounts. These accounts would always appear at the top of the list in the Subscription folder, followed by the most recently published articles from other followed accounts.
After: Favorite accounts now appear with a star, and are not always displayed first. They appear in chronological order due to the publish date and time of the latest article.
Implication: Pushes more recent information to users and increases exposure of articles from accounts that have not been favorited. For popular accounts, this levels the playing field and makes it more important than ever to create a catchy headline and good content.
Marginalized menu bar
After: To account menu bar, at least 3 steps are required.
Implication: The user's operating costs have been greatly increased, and clicks on the menu will inevitably be impacted in the short term. No doubt, the reading volume of historical articles will also be affected.
Easier to unfollow an account
Before: To unfollow an account, the user needed to click on the icon in the upper right corner to located the unfollow button, which was quite subtle.
After: In Subscription Account list, users can simply slide the top bar of the account to the left to quickly unfollow.
On the main display of the account introduction page, there is also a very obvious unfollow button.
Implication: It is increasingly more convenient for users to unfollow an account, making user retention more difficult to establish, and increasing pressure for high quality content.
In general, after the update, peak read times become even more popular as the playing field for all accounts. Data shows that from 7:00am - 9:00am, and 8:00pm to 10:00pm people are more likely to be browsing through their Subscription folder and reading articles.
This update puts increased pressure on brands to create better, easier to consume content.