Instagram’s new motion system mimics natural human movement

Studio Dumbar/Dept® unveils an extensive set of motion behaviours which emulate the imperfect ways we film content and use our phones.

12 March 2024

Once a fairly static app, motion now saturates every part of Instagram, from the user experience, to the type of content posted through to its marketing assets. It’s a natural step, then, for the brand to look at how motion is branded across the platform. A new all-encompassing system, designed by motion experts Studio Dumbar/Dept®, has been introduced in marketing and across the app. It’s inspired by motion behaviours like tapping, scrolling and filming – in short, all the very human hand movements we already associate with the app.

“It adds a level of human imperfection and interaction to Instagram’s dynamic brand,” says CD Liza Enebeis, Studio Dumbar/Dept®. Some of the motion techniques developed mimic camera movements; by playing with depth, perspective and angles, Studio Dumbar/Dept® can create the illusion of a person filming a real 3D space. Others are reminiscent of gestures like swiping or scrolling, “to simulate the feeling of someone controlling the motion”. When typing is used in marketing assets, the motion will now look more realistic, suggesting a hand behind the copy.


Studio Dumbar/Dept®: Instagram (Copyright © Instagram, 2024)

Instagram creators served as the main inspiration for the work. Studio Dumbar/Dept® wanted to draw attention to how they make content and the human experiences behind the brand, and then translate it into motion. “We have integrated this idea of embracing imperfection throughout the motion design system, inspired by how people interact with the app or create a story with Instagram’s creator tools,” says a release.

Physics, apparently, also plays a part in the work. Studio Dumbar/Dept® calls physics the set of design rules that keeps the system cohesive, defining how motion is oriented in time and space. “One of these Physics is called ‘Imperfection’,” says Liz, “[it] specifies how to turn polished motion into a human, relatable movement using nonlinear paths and variable speed.”

The system was integrated into Instagram’s core brand elements late last year and continues to roll out across focused campaigns. Studio Dumbar/Dept® also developed extensive guidelines and toolkits for other designers to work consistently with the new motion behaviours.

GalleryStudio Dumbar/Dept®: Instagram (Copyright © Instagram, 2024)

Studio Dumbar/Dept®: Instagram (Copyright © Instagram, 2024)

Studio Dumbar/Dept®: Instagram (Copyright © Instagram, 2024)

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Studio Dumbar/Dept®: Instagram (Copyright © Instagram, 2024)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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