Instagram reveals new icon and UI

11 May 2016

Instagram has today revealed its new icon and refreshed user interface, which the company’s head of design says reflects how the app’s content has diversified. In this UK exclusive interview with It’s Nice That, Ian Spalter explains why it’s time for a new identity, and how everyone at the company was involved in the icon’s redesign.

“Instagram has evolved in it’s five-and-a-half year existence from this place where you filter and edit your photos and share them, to this vibrant community of people sharing all sorts of content every day,” Ian explains. “We realised we hadn’t really evolved the core brand assets, the icon and UI, at all. So we started to look at how we could do better.”

Ian held a company-wide creative session where he asked every Instagram employee to draw the existing icon from memory in five seconds, in order to establish what was important to keep, and how much the design team could simplify the current icon without losing its identity. “The main question when redesigning is, what do you keep? What part of your heritage is important to hold on to and transfer over into something new, but is also not going to get old quickly?” Ian says.

Ian found that everyone drew the iris and the viewfinder, and most people drew the rainbow. This jump-started a “deep exploration process” which resulted in the new icon, which strips away excess detail apart from the all-important iris and viewfinder, and uses the rainbow in a new way.

“The rainbow lives on in form of this new gradient. The new design leans on that colour blur pretty heavily, with the simplicity of the icon. Our thinking is it looks like the sunset picture that everyone’s trying to take. We wanted it to feel warm, optimistic and fun.”

Ian says the new simplified logo embraces the broader content on Instagram now, as it’s no longer just a photo platform but an outlet for film and animation. Over the past six months, the time people spent watching videos on Instagram increased by more than 40% and the iconography has been designed to encompass that.

The pressure is on to compete with the old icon, which is a mainstay of many phone home screens, so Ian hopes the colourful gradient will give it “pop and weight.” To align with the new icon, all Instagram’s other apps, including Boomerang, Layout and Hyperlapse, have also been redesigned to form a more coherent family.

This new “colourful doorway” leads to the revamped UI, which has been stripped back to white. This is to complement the community and its content, says Ian, so the colour only comes from the posts (except for some details, to aid usability), putting the images and videos at the forefront and giving an overall cleaner experience.


Instagram’s new icon


Instagram: family of icons for Layout, Hyperlapse and Boomerang


Instagram’s new UI

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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