Blog 53

New Instagram icon

We always get excited about any new developments in (app) design, especially when it’s about something we see or use a lot. Instagram’s new icon split our design team’s opinions and sparked an interesting debate.

An icon is the window to your brand

An icon is the most important feature in app design. You can compare it to a book or album cover. While they say you shouldn’t judge anything by its cover, people still do, especially when there are thousands of other app icons staring at them in the app store.

A successful app icon needs to be vibrant, colourful and have a distinct shape to stand out from the rest. It may sound easy, but a lot of thought goes into the design process, at least at Degree 53. Besides, the app also needs to convey the personality and content of the app so it is clear to users what they will find once they download it. It also sets expectations for the app.

We didn’t see this one coming

As our apps are set to update automatically, we weren’t prepared for the redesign and only noticed it once it was done. It was a surprise and felt almost like we didn’t get to say goodbye to the old icon we were so familiar with. It happened so quickly and without warning, which is probably what the guys at Instagram wanted anyway. Now, everyone is talking about it!

Out with the old, in with the new

Old Instagram icon

We all agree that the old camera icon that included skeuomorphic features was a little dated and it was time to move on. The new logo with a rainbow gradient feels like it belongs to the current iOS design scheme and is more modern. Instagram has kept the most memorable feature of the old icon – the camera – and made it stand out. However, some of us think that the old design had stuck with Instagram and almost felt like it didn’t need changing, as it was so… iconic!

Old vs new Instagram family icons

Old and new Instagram family app icons

We also like that they’ve unified Instagram’s partner apps Layout, Hyperlapse and Boomerang, but are unsure about their inverted icons compared to Instagram’s.

Colour vs. black & white

Instagram has also updated its look on the inside from heavy blue and grey elements to simpler, minimalistic black and white features. The team agree that the image feed looks a lot better and cleaner with this new scheme. However, when you want to upload a photo, it can take the focus off it when selecting filters. We feel that the previously black screen showed the different effects better, so can’t say we like it as much.

Another thing we pointed out was that the black and white look doesn’t fit with the colourful logo. If you’d never used Instagram before, you’d probably expect the same colours to run throughout the app too. At least we did.

Icon testing tools

When we create app icons from scratch, we test them on every possible device to make sure it looks right. We use app icon testing tools – such as InVision – for most of our work. However, if you’d like to try a free service, Icon Strike is a nice and easy-to-use alternative.

Despite being owned by Facebook, we are glad that Instagram still remains its own entity and has a distinct look. While some of us didn’t instantly fall in love with the redesign, we will get used to it and embrace it, as we love to show off our sausage beach legs and what we have for brunch on Sundays.

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