6 Lessons Designers Can Learn From Instagram’s UI
Since its creation in 2010, the Instagram platform has undergone some fairly major user interface changes – and while some were upset when the changes first happened, the network remains quite popular.
It has more than 1 billion monthly active users and 10x higher engagement rates with brands than other social platforms.
If you’re considering using the platform to promote your business, you can buy automatic Instagram likes get yourself started – but should keep these lessons in mind as you design your website and offers to convert your followers to customers.
Image credit: Instagram redesign
1. Keep it Simple, Sweetie
Over time, Instagram’s design evolved to fit in with the growing trend of flat designs because of their user experience benefits. Reducing visual clutter and noise, like Instagram did when they removed the dark tab bar and header and replaced it with white and simplified tab icons, allows them to emphasize what’s most important for the users – the content.
In the end, they ended up with a cleaner, fresher, more elegant look that adds to the experience and puts the focus on the Instagram feed, where it should be.
Keeping your designs simple will make it more clear to the user where they should focus their attention – and that’s what you want.
2. Keep it Consistent Across Devices
Today, people are using mobile devices more than ever, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely forget the desktop. By creating a consistent experience from desktop to tablet to smartphone, with responsive design, users don’t have to worry about changes in how they use your website/app from one platform to the next.
Most importantly, your motivation, mobile commands, and critical features should remain accessible, even when your app/website is viewed in landscape mode. One of the biggest benefits of consistency across all devices is the fact that it limits the number of actions and operations users can take.
It prevents users from learning how to operate your website or app one way on the computer, one way on the smartphone, and one way on a tablet. It eliminates confusion and creates a seamless experience that allows the user to choose their favorite device for connecting with you.
3. Make it Easy to Control with Your Fingers
The most important touch controls within a user’s reach is essential to developing a good mobile user experience. Even a small, meaningless update, like a change in location of the “edit profile” button on Instagram, can make a major difference in overall usability.
Because they moved it down the screen, it is easier for people to reach with their thumbs. With where it was before, it required the user to move their entire hand up from the bottom of their device to reach the button.
4. Reduce Visual Friction
According to ViralRace, it’s been possible to use 30 hashtags per Instagram post for a long time, and those who do often find they get more exposure and engagement. But, because it tends to clutter up the caption, people have started using . and line breaks to add some space between the end of the caption and the start of the hashtags. This way, users have to tap “view more” to see them.
And still, there are some people who would rather add the hashtags to a post comment immediately after they post the photo – which can sometimes hurt their engagement since photos will always show up in the hashtag stream based on when the photo was added to Instagram, not when the hashtags are added. That means if you wait too long to add some hashtags after it’s posted, it may already be too late for it to get a prime location in the hashtag stream.
Because of that visual clutter, Instagram is now testing the ability to add hashtags to posts without including them in the post caption, Because they don’t add value to the caption itself and are nothing more than a catalog system to organize all the content on Instagram, it could enhance the overall user experience.
5. You Can’t Please Everyone
It’s absolutely impossible to please everyone. Think about how many times Facebook and Instagram have changed things in the past and how much backlash they got for those changes in the days and weeks that followed. (Remember how people freaked out when Instagram changed their logo in 2016?)
Ultimately, everyone accepted the changes because they had to in order to continue using the service.
6. Continue to Evolve Based on Customers Needs
The one thing about design is that trends change and evolve based on what people need at the time. What worked for your business five years ago, probably isn’t working now. The key is to make sure you remain open to the possibility of change and continue to see room for improvement when it comes to the user interface and user experience.
Keep an eye on your analytics. Use heat maps to determine where most people pay attention to the page. Use the data to make improvements when and where you see fit.
The important thing is – no matter what you’re designing – whether you’re working on an app, a landing page, an email newsletter, a store, or a social media network, to remember your audience.
Remember what it is you want them to do and why they are coming. Make the path from point A to point B as simple and straight forward as possible. Keep it clutter free, yet aesthetically pleasing and easy to use and your audience will reward you.