Instagram’s drastic revamp which said good-bye to skeuomorphism with an all-white monochromatic interface and a rainbow-colored icon—not only for the main app, but also for Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse—has expectedly polarized fans and watchers alike.
A lot of people took to blogs and social media to vent their frustration with the new art direction for the beloved app they obsessively check multiple times a day.
But after all is said and done, this may not necessarily be such a bad move for Instagram. So, how did the new Instagram icon came to be and what was the reasoning behind its redesign?
Inspired by—well, you!
According to Ian Spalter, head of design at Instagram, they wanted to strike a delicate balance between abstracting too much and retaining Instagram’s branding. The old icon and interface design was beginning to feel “not reflective of the community, and we thought we could make it better,” said Spalter.
As for the controversial new app icon, “if you make it too literal, it’s hard to justify changing from what we currently have,” he wrote in a Medium post. That’s why they went with a “glyph that still suggests a camera, but also sets the groundwork for years to come.”
Hence, the rainbow-colored icon style for Instagram, Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse. Here’s the old vs. new comparison of these icons.
In my mind, the major problem with this new icon style is the fact that the rainbow feel disconnected to the colors of the old icon’s rainbow. But fact of the matter remains that, as with most major design departures, this one will eventually get recognized as Instagram branding simply by repetition and usage.
Case in point? The new Uber icon.
Fixing the Instagram icon
Admittedly, that’s not stopping folks from complaining that the icon looks unfinished, and some have proposed fixing it by applying a slight design tweak. For example, Ian Storm Taylor proposed keeping slightly more of the original vibe by retaining the “leather” on the top half of the camera, like this.
Spatter had this to say about the app’s severely black and white user interface:
While the icon is a colorful doorway into the Instagram app, once inside the app, we believe the color should come directly from the community’s photos and videos. We stripped the color and noise from surfaces where people’s content should take center stage, and boosted color on other surfaces like sign up flows and home screens.
I myself am not a big fan of the monochromatic interface.
Though I do understand that users’ photos and videos stand out when presented inside all-white interfaces, I think—and this is, of course, a matter of personal preference—that a dark look lends itself a lot better to these types of apps.
Maybe Instagram should have given us the option to switch from dark to light theme?
Negative reactions pouring in from around the world
I’m not going to link to each and every negative reaction to Instagram’s redesign, as I’m sure you’ve already encountered them on social media and on your favorite blogs.
Still, if you’re interested in learning what some of the well-known writers around the web think about the polarizing redesign of Instagram, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has done a nice job compiling some of the best quotes.
Instagram co-founder Kevin System’s blog post announcing the new look already has more than a thousand comments, mostly negative. Then again, when the dust settles and we’ve had some time to familiarize ourselves with the change, I don’t think it’ll be much of a problem.
It’s still a camera, people!
As Gruber summed it up nicely, it’s the change itself people dislike—“the loss of something familiar.” In the end, people will continue using Instagram because it’s a great service and I don’t envision anyone closing their account on Instagram due to the app’s new icon and interface felling out of place.
So relax, people, it’s still a camera!
We want to hear your thoughts about Instagram’s polarizing redesign and rebranding. Do you like it or not, and why? Chime in with your thoughts in the comment section below.