Service Portal with an Instagram Feel? Design cues in the social media era

7 March 2023| 6 min| Jacek Witek, UX designer

In today’s digital age, user experience is the key. A well-designed portal can drive user engagement and satisfaction, leading to higher adoption and a more successful platform. One way to create a satisfying user experience is to incorporate elements of popular social media platforms, like Instagram, into the design. At the end of the day, most of the Service Portal users are social media users, aren’t they?

Common user complaints about ServiceNow user experience

Service Portals are an essential part of organizations using ServiceNow, but from a user perspective, they can often present challenges and feel simply unpleasant. The most common issue is connected to poor navigation, with not-appropriate labelling and categorization making it hard to find the right information or complete tasks efficiently. Since Service Portal is slowly being withdrawn by ServiceNow it’s worth considering to Employee Center – here you can find out three reasons why you should start the migration.

Image: Out of the box Service Portal

Image: Example of well structured Employee Center

According to a survey by Adobe, 38% of users will disengage with a webpage if they find the content or layout unattractive. Unfortunately, many Service Portals suffer from unappealing visuals, a lack of visual hierarchy, and ineffective use of colour, typography, and graphics. These issues can cause the portal to feel outdated, lowering user confidence in its purpose and functionality. Applying proper user experience knowledge, however, can draw users back in and create an enjoyable, easy-to-follow design.

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Losing user’s trust

Keep in mind that first impressions matter and most users form an opinion about your webpage or portal in under a second, influencing their decision to stay or leave. If they leave due to a negative user experience, statistics show that 88% are unlikely to return to the site. While users may need to return when the portal is part of their workspace, a poor user experience can compound negative feelings towards your Service Portal.

Many of our clients come to us frustrated by the low usage of their Service Portal, and we see firsthand how this can be directly attributed to poor design choices. A non-intuitive and unhelpful design can make it difficult for users to find the necessary information. If the design is unattractive, users accustomed to more visually appealing sites such as social media platforms may quickly dismiss the portal and its intended purpose.

Jacek Witek, UX designer at SPOC

Low rate of engagement

While the visual aspect is essential, it’s not the only factor contributing to a successful Service Portal. Unintuitive design and illogical user paths can lead to frustration, poor user experience, and, ultimately, low adoption rates. Conducting thorough user research to understand user needs and tailor the design to their specific requirements is essential to avoid these issues. By prioritizing user-centred design, you can increase adoption rates and set your Service Portal up for success.

Image: User-centered subcategorization

Giving up on the service portal

What’s the worst that can happen? Service Portal users in your company who are accustomed to the visual, usability, and accessibility standards of social media may give up on using a platform that doesn’t meet their expectations.

We all experience the same frustration when we enter e-commerce or any other websites that seem unintuitive. We don’t like feeling confused or lost. A tool designed to solve our problems should avoid creating more drama. How many times have you abandoned a cart of products because you couldn’t find the right button to make a payment? The same thing happens when using the Service Portal if it is not designed with UX in mind.

“We have a great tool – people just don’t use it”. Sounds familiar? Watch 3 ways to improve your ServiceNow usability and user experience in our >>VOD<<

Taking design cues from Instagram: best practices for UX in the Social Media era

Instagram is known for its simple, clean, and visually-appealing design. Users love its bright colours, bold typography, and user-friendly interface. Is there any way to translate that successful way of designing and experiencing a digital place into something as serious as a Service Portal? 

The importance of UX design in ServiceNow ServicePortal lies in the power of the tools and features developed to recognize and support users’ needs dealing with complex processes. By providing a user-based approach to building and measuring steps and options, ServicePortal enables organizations to provide seamless, efficient, and effective solutions for their customers.

Jacek Witek, UX designer at SPOC

Image: Simple Service Portal login page designed for visual appeal

Visuals & Colours

There are a few design elements to consider to create an Instagram-like feel in the Service Now Portal. First, let’s focus on the colours. Instagram is famous for its bright and cheerful colour palette, which is a departure from the traditional corporate blue and grey colour schemes. A portal with an Instagram feel would go for bright, bold, and vibrant colours that are consistent throughout the design.

Image: Onboarding portal utilizing vibrant brand colours

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Next, the typography should be clean and easy to read. Instagram’s typography is simple and uses a sans-serif font, making it easy to read on any device. Using clear, easily-readable and visually appealing fonts could be another hint.

Image: Helpdesk portal before a redesign

Image: Typography and visual improvements on the helpdesk portal


Instagram’s design emphasises clarity, visual impact, and instant information decoding for users. One way to achieve the same effect is to simplify the design and layout of the portal, allowing users to scan and find the information they need quickly. As Da Vinci once said: simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Especially when it comes to design! That is why by following the Insta-logic, you could minimise clutter, ensuring that key features and functions are easily accessible.

Image: Instagram’s post in a modal window


What about the effective categorisation of content? Instagram’s design makes it easy to navigate through different content categories, such as posts, stories, and reels. You can apply a similar categorisation approach to your Service Portal by grouping related content and creating intuitive navigation to help users quickly find what they need. An easy way to do it is to use clear and concise category labels and utilise icons and other visual cues to differentiate categories. As a consequence,  portal navigation and finding the information becomes a breeze. This can enhance the user experience and improve the company’s engagement and adoption of the Service Portal.

Image: Example categorization in an Employee Center portal

Image: Example of how categorization looks on Instagram

Service Portal for millennials

The Instagram platform has become an undisputed visual design and user experience leader. With millions of users and a highly engaged community, it is no wonder that Service Now designers are looking to incorporate the same “Insta-feeling” into their designs.

By taking a cue from Instagram’s design clarity, easy way of scanning and instant information decoding, Service Portal can become a user-friendly platform that is focused on visual impact. The benefits of an “Insta-style” ServicePortal design are clear: users engage with the portal more happily, and the portal can become a more integral part of their daily routine, especially if your target group is millennials or generation Z.  This increased engagement can lead to higher usage, better ROI, and a more satisfied user base.

At SPOC, we have seen first-hand how an “Insta-style” Service Portal design can make a difference. By incorporating Instagram’s design elements and user experience into our Service Now portals, we have noted a significant increase in user engagement and adoption. So, if you are wondering if an “Insta-feeling” is possible on your Service Now platform, our answer is: yes, it is, and it can become very profitable for your organization. Let’s do it together.