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19/05/2016 | Webreality

Instagram’s new look

You’ve probably all noticed the change Instagram made last week: significant updates to their logo, icons and interface, with a new, flatter design and multicoloured logo and app icons.

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Why change?

Let’s start of with the thoughts and reasoning from the Instagram design team. According to Ian Spalter, Head of Design at Instagram:

The Instagram logo and design was beginning to feel, well… not reflective of the community, and frankly we thought we could make it better".

He then went on to say:

"The question then became, how far do we go?" The brand says, "If you abstract too much, the glyph doesn't feel tied to the history and soul of Instagram. If you make it too literal, it's hard to justify changing from what we currently have. After a lot of refinement, we landed on a glyph that still suggests a camera, but also sets the groundwork for years to come."

So what do we think?

It’s a fine balance between flattening the design while keeping the brand identity intact. I can see why Instagram have done what they have, but I’m not sure they’ve completely succeeded.

The original logo was designed back in the days of Skeuomorphism and drop shadows, a necessary visual tactic that helped ‘Joe public’ get used to interacting with a new kind of input - tapping icons on phone screens. The camera had bags of texture and was instantly recognisable; it had a ‘craft’ feel, standing out from the crowd and ultimately shaping the way people feel about Instagram today. It was friendly, quirky and creative.

This is where I feel Instagram may have failed. They’ve brought the icon more inline with ‘modern’ design trends - simple, flat - but in doing so have lost all that quirky charm and charisma of the original. It risks getting lost against a sea of similar logos.

The icon is also an update to the original icon rather than a reinvention, a design for today rather than for the future. The photo sharing community has changed immensely since the beginning of Instagram. Perhaps instead of retaining the camera icon they could have reflected this sense of sharing and community that Instagram now embodies?

Overall I don’t think it’s an ugly logo. I just feel they fell short of what could have been done. But then nobody likes change! I’m sure we’ll all get used to this logo and feel the original icon was really outdated in a matter of weeks.”

UI/UX Update

Instagram didn’t just update its icon, but also the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design - and to great effect. This is probably the largest interface redesign since Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012, and the move away from a blue UI perhaps helps to distance itself from the social media giant and retain it’s own distinct entity.

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The new interface deliberately stays away from colour once you’re in the app, letting the colour come from the content itself. This is a great idea - Instagram is all about great photos and filters.

It could be argued that the UI doesn’t sufficiently reference the blues and purples that appear in the logo, failing to visually link the icon and the interface. A matter of opinion, though. The update is definitely a step in the right direction - simple, clear and user-focused. Time will tell how it goes down with Instagram’s 400 million users.

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