In July 2023, Mark Zuckerberg launched Meta’s much-anticipated X competitor: Threads. Meta’s vision for this new social platform was to offer “a new, separate space for real-time updates and public conversations” that was built on the foundation of Instagram’s existing community, content, and infrastructure.

woman uses threads on a phone

As explained in Meta’s official announcement, “Threads is to take what Instagram does best and expand that to text, creating a positive and creative space to express your ideas.” Like Instagram, you can follow friends and creators who share your interests.

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Of course, Threads has received its fair share of criticism, from accessibility concerns to accusations of using “dark design” tactics. Nevertheless, Threads hit more than 30 million sign-ups in its first 16 hours alone. It’s continued to gain traction since then, demonstrating the strength of the app’s design.

In this article, we’ll cover the design choices that have helped Threads go (and stay) viral, the areas in which it has fallen short, and what it might take to address these shortcomings.

Table of Contents

What is Threads?

To understand the design choices that underpin Threads, it’s important first to clarify what Threads is — and what it isn’t.

At its core, Threads is a standalone app that lets users share short, text-based content of up to 500 characters per post. It also offers many features with which Twitter (now known as “X”) users will likely be familiar, such as liking, quoting, or sharing posts.

Threads is also closely tied to Instagram. While there are options to create custom profiles, by default, Threads simply ports over data from users’ existing Instagram accounts. It also offers seamless integration with Instagram, with capabilities such as sharing Threads posts to your Instagram story or in an Instagram DM.

You can also automatically follow the same accounts on Threads as you already do on Instagram.

However, integration with other platforms…


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