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Instagram feature re-design

Screen time management

Instagram is responsible for shaping society today due to its global influence on people. I re-designed the screen time feature by placing a timer on the screen every time a user logged in. It will make them conscious of the time they spend on Instagram.

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UI/UX Designer
Design Researcher


14 days






Mindless scrolling on Instagram can lead to hours passing unnoticed. It's easy to get addicted to constantly discovering new content. This can result in problems like overeating, difficulty concentrating, wasting time, cyberbullying, body image concerns, and normalizing risky behaviors.


If we can keep a check on the time spent on the app. We may be able to hold ourselves accountable and can avoid several issues arising from mindless scrolling.


The project outcome is a new Instagram screen time feature. When users log in, they'll see a timer showing their time since the last login to help limit scrolling. It's optional. Users can share their screen time with friends, and the one spending the least each week wins. It aims to encourage wiser use of time through friendly competition and rewards.


As an addict on Instagram, I think this feature will make me more aware of my time.
Patel, Business student


How might we make Instagram more responsible with respect to the time spent by the user on the platform?


A screen timer on the app that will make the users aware of their time on Instagram.

The feature is optional and users can opt in if they want to. There is a silent timer on the screen of instagram and it goes off every time a user is logged in. It’s goal is to make the users aware of their time spent on the app.

Users can share their time spent on the app weekly. It can encourage them to be accountable for the time spent on the app.

Users can check the analysis of their screen time usage in the settings. It will help them understand their weekly usage.

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Timer on screen indicates the time spent on the from the log in.


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The project brief was to re-design a feature of a common app. I kickstarted the project by exploring common apps. One of the apps that I use quite significantly is Instagram. After conducting primary and secondary research, I identified the problem of ‘mindless scrolling’ and the addiction it comes with.

Secondary research

Instagram is a platform where the content is created by the users, and the service is available 24/7 and has 2 billion monthly active users.

Total active users

2 Billion

as of January 2023

When consumption goes unchecked, novel problems arise, such as

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Research also shows that by spending so much time on the internet, we have experienced actual fatigue and attention disorders. Social media can trigger feelings of envy and cause you to lose sight of the everyday moments in a relationship that leads to ultimate satisfaction and not just temporary happiness.

Primary research

By interviewing 5 of my peers, I found the following key insights-

1. Users use Instagram during their leisure time, but they find themselves constantly looking at Instagram every time they get a break.

2. Users on average use Instagram for 1-2 hours per day.

3. By scrolling for extended periods, they find it difficult to keep a check on their time.


User story

As an Instagram user, I want to check on my friends and keep myself updated with news updates.

Competitive Analysis

TikTok is a direct competitor of Instagram on a global level. TikTok is a Chinese social media platform which hosts short-form videos ranging from 10 secs-10 mins and is owned by ByteDance.

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Tik tok allows family to pair so that they can consensually monitor the activity

Parents can set the limit of screen time, manage the privacy.

Users can look at their daily screen time and can set the amount of usage.

Sleep reminders option will notify the users at their scheduled time of sleep.

The features on TikTok helped me visualize my solution and gave me an idea of what the competitors offer their consumers. TikTok is a direct rival to Instagram, and their product offering creates value for their users, making them more loyal in the long term.

Business considerations

Why would Instagram want to decrease the screen-time for their users? Isn’t the main business model of Instagram is to get their users hooked on their app?

Yes, Instagram’s business model is to get as much screen time as possible from their users. Still, Instagram would allow their users to keep a check on their screen time because that way, they can express that they care about their users’ well-being and making their users accountable for their actions would give Instagram an upper hand and long-term loyalty from their users.

Design: Ideation and conceptualization

To visualize my idea, I sketched few iterations on paper and then switched to Figma for mid-fi wireframes.


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Information Architecture is a great way to have all the required information grouped in categories. It is a foundation of a great design.


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Home screen: Has timer on the screen that displays the amount of time spent since the last pick up.

Profile: From profile screen, user can go to the settings. Timer is still on the screen to keep the user aware.

Screen time management: A user can access the settings for the new feature. Here they can set up reminders, or share their screen time with friends.

Screen time: By tapping the timer on screen, users can share their screen time with their friends. This feature will encourage the users to have a healthy competition.

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Screen time sharing: Users also have a liberty to either share their screen time, or even a timer on their screen.

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Reminders: toggle on/off to access the feature.

Usability Testing

After testing wireframes with 7 of my peers, I made these changes.

Test results

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Added labels for better understanding and changed the colour yellow to blue so that it does not look like it’s recording screen and is more accessible.

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Placed the edit button right on the screen time sharing so that the users can edit it right away and they would not have to dig in to go to settings.

Other valuable feedback

  • ‘I do not want to know my screen time as I use Instagram in my leisure time also. It feels like guilt-tripping.

  • ‘I think apps try to grow by trying to engage more users. But as a user, definitely, it will be a useful feature.’

  • ‘Definitely, very helpful for a person like me.'

  • The flow of the app was easy to follow as the users were fairly familiar with Instagram.

  • Some mentioned that they do not prefer the placement of a timer in the front.

Finalizing hi-fi wireframes

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How timer will look on the screens

users can set the reminders of their screen time usage

weekly screen time analysis

users can also share their screen time with their friends

Key takeaways


In this project, I found that a lot of the time, users do not know what they need. When we show something new to the users, the first reaction is always resistance because they are accustomed to using something in their own way and do not want to change their habits.


To address this situation, I created AB versions of the design and tested them with my users. Some of my users resisted the same feature, while some of them actually wanted to use it. So, I customized the design with the feature that was more functional.


In this project, I learned that we, as designers, are the decision-makers and that users are often not always right. We must be reasonable in our designs and let the users get used to the change. We should abide by the rules of functionality and better experience, as a good product is always the one which solves real problems.

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