Speed kills in the app world. No one wants to wait around for an app to load, and these days, most people simply won't bother if load-time delays become too much, and you end up watching that circle icon flipping over and over.
Instagram knows this, and this week, the social app has outlined its latest speed improvements to its web app (instagram.com), which will expand its opportunities to connect with more users in different regions across the world.
Over on the Instagram Engineering blog, Instagram's Glenn Conner outlines how they've gone about updating the design of Instagram.com to boost performance:
"In recent years, instagram.com has seen a lot of changes - we’ve launched stories, filters, creation tools, notifications, and direct messaging as well as myriad other features and enhancements. However, as the product grew, one unfortunate side effect was that our web performance began to suffer."
You can see that performance decline in this chart, which displays how load times had blown out, and how Instagram has been able to improve them more recently.
Indeed, Instagram says that its improvements - largely based on load optimization and pre-fetching - have reduced the time taken to load photos on instagram.com by 25%, while it's also seen a 56% reduction in the amount of time users spend waiting at the end of their feed for the next page to show up.
Those are significant improvements - and they could have a major impact on the app's future expansion, with the improved capacity opening up more opportunities in markets where connectivity and access options aren't as advanced.
As social networks look to expand, their development teams need to broaden their perspective beyond the regions and operating capacities that their tools have, thus far, seen most use in.
Snapchat, for example, recently upgraded its Android app after years of neglect, which has subsequently expanded the app's opportunities in regions where Android is the most popular operating system. That change has been reflected in the company's user growth stats, with Snap directly crediting its Android improvements for usage increases.
One of the key markets of focus here is India, with Android holding around 90% of the Indian market. India is now the second-largest smartphone market in the world (behind China), which opens the door to major opportunities for social media apps and tools, with a huge, waiting audience ready to sign-up to their offerings.
But there are challenges. Facebook has already faced regulatory issues in India around its Libra cryptocurrency, while there are also issues with connectivity. 4G adoption in India is growing, but it remains somewhat limited, while many users are also on restrictive data plans, necessitating limits on their social app usage.
That's where the changes to Instagram's web app may help. In regions where connectivity is more limited, its important for social tools to provide options like this to maximize take-up.
And as you can see in this chart from Statista, India - along with Brazil and Indonesia - is a logical region of focus for the app.
With a billion users and rising, Instagram is now looking to the next level of expansion, and improvements like this will definitely broaden its usage potential. And as Instagram also looks to shift into eCommerce, that could open up a range of new opportunities.
You can read the full details of Instagram's speed improvements here.