My favourite product and how I’d improve it — WhatsApp

A few days ago, WhatsApp notified their users that their privacy policy would be updated and our information/data would be shared with Facebook. Unsurprising to me, as Facebook would obviously like to collect more data and then figure out ways to capitalize on that data to make money. But this article isn’t about their updated privacy policy. This is strictly about how I would improve WhatsApp from a feature standpoint.

I mostly use WhatsApp to participate in group chats with my friends and family. I have family that live overseas, and this is an easy way for everyone to chat and share photos. WhatsApp has been an integral part of many Hong Kongers’ lives for years, as many telecom companies will actually offer data plans that specifically give you free WhatsApp usage. As a result, my friends & family based in Hong Kong are used to using WhatsApp and it’s their preferred messaging app (even over the default Message app from Apple).

One of the cool features that WhatsApp released a while ago was the introduction of “stickers”. Similar to what Messenger (another Facebook product) can do, users can download a sticker set, and send them to their friends. Some stickers are super cute, others are funny, and you can even make your own stickers through the use third party apps.

I’ve noticed however that available sticker packs differ based on what region you are in. I’ve received tons of stickers that use Chinese text and when I tap on them, I cannot download the full pack. I’m given the option to “add to favourites” so that I can use it in the future, but this option is messy. It’s also unclear where these stickers actually came from — are these official sticker packs that WhatsApp has made available for select regions, or are people simply creating their own via third party apps? Where are all these funny Chinese text ones coming from?

I can only assume that “反斗奇兵 Sticker Set 1” has an entire pack of available stickers that you can download as I’ve received other stickers from this pack in this group chat, but I have no clue how to go about seeing the entire pack. The sticker on the right side gives me an option to “View Sticker Pack” but when I tapped on it, it brought me to the App Store to download a third party app. It’s not entirely clear what that means.

Given the popularity of Messengers’ Stickers feature (anecdotal evidence on my part), I would improve WhatsApp’s Stickers feature by making it easier for users to discover new/custom sticker packs uploaded by their own users. Letting us add it to our Favourites is messy, and it’s not really an acceptable workaround. My favourites section is so unorganized, and it sorts them by chronological order of when I added that particular sticker, which means I often have to scroll to find a specific one that I want.

We should be able to search for new sticker packs to browse for custom ones uploaded publicly by users when I tap the + sign on the top right, instead of being limited to the ones that WhatsApp promotes/supports. Also on that note, WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, why aren’t we given access to the vast array of Stickers available on Messenger? That would be a nice improvement to the experience.

When we receive custom stickers from other users, tapping on them should give us an option to see the entire pack and download it, as opposed to asking our friends to individually send us the entire pack so we can “favourite” each one. This is a huge waste of time for both users. The Favourites section should actually be a collection of stickers I use constantly or default to using with certain people, as opposed to a mess of every single custom sticker I have ever received from others and decided that I wanted it.

Perhaps I have fundamentally misunderstood how Stickers works from a tech perspective. I certainly don’t know how to code, and I don’t work for Facebook or WhatsApp so maybe the Stickers functionality is limited to begin with and there are other competing priorities for the product teams. But I would actually use Stickers more often on WhatsApp if I had more varied options to choose from, and I could easily download packs that I didn’t have direct access to.

Time to move off WhatsApp and onto Signal 👋



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aspiring product manager — looking for mentorship