What Instagram’s redesign can teach us about the process

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Each time a company redesigns their logo or refreshes their UI, it is usually accompanied by a loud chorus of people either hailing the move as a great one, or a travesty to mankind. So it isn’t really anything new that when Instagram unveiled their newly redesigned apps a few days ago, there was an uproar criticizing the new design.

But hey, different folks for different folks – change is hard and design is subjective. Is there a way to look at it that isn’t just a visceral gut reaction? Are there things that we could actually -gasp- learn about the process of design? That’s what today’s article is about. Here are a couple of lessons the redesign can teach us.

Design and branding are not just about the logo itself

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Changing an iconic logo is always a tall order for designers. Sure, logo recognition is an important part of branding. That’s why logos for brands such as Nike and Twitter are so iconic. Instagram’s new design goes a beyond that.

Their new design encompasses the entire suite of apps, so now everything looks like they belong to the same family. Instagram is still the flagship, but they now all share the same ‘rainbow background’ and simple design DNA.

The other message the logo design is the evolving nature of Instagram itself. When it started, their previous logo made sense for a tool that was about throwing retro-looking filters and sharing the results with friends. Fast forward to today. Instagram has become much more than that. As one of the leading social media platforms, it is no longer that quirky photo sharing app, but a trailblazer with innovative tools like Hyperlapse and Boomerang.  It’s skeuomorphic design no longer encompasses that – and thus the flattening of their logo, despite looking simplistic makes sense. Which brings me to the second key learning.

The key purpose of the design is the overall user experience

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The bigger part of the design is the simplification of the UI within the app itself. The interface elements now fade into the background, making the user-shared content the star of the show. It’s not just the color scheme that has changed, the icons buttons have also been simplified, making the entire experience a lot less distracting. For a network that is about sharing these moments, these images and video now pop, looking better than before.

Another added advantage is that if they were to incorporate new features, a small splash of color can really help guide the user.

So whether you think the new design is ‘trash‘, perhaps there is something we can learn from this after all.

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