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Instagram's new look

Instagram recently released their new version of the app that has a major re-design to their logo and to their app itself. For those of you who have checked it out, the icon is now a colourful gradient and the app has moved to a simpler black and white design. This new minimalist design is expected to let the users focus on the photos and the videos while not being distracted by anything else on the screen.

Some people like the change, some people hate the change, and I don't have an opinion either way. To me, a design is good as long as it makes it easy to use the functionalities on offer, has an uncluttered and elegant look. Which Instagram did before this redesign exercise and does after it. But the new design seems to have improved the app performance.

That brings us to why redesign exercises are taken up in the first place. Facebook has done it several times. So has Google, and WhatsApp and Uber, and pretty much every other app you can think about. In most design/redesign exercises, the primary objective is not to make the app look good. That is only a hygiene factor to be kept in mind. The primary objective is to solve a problem.

The problem being solved can vary from increasing click through rates to ensuring faster load times to accounting for multiple languages. A design that works for English text doesn't necessarily works for a language like Russian or Arabic, and as products scale to audiences that want it in these languages, the design has to be consistent across all audiences and yet cater to the specific needs of those in each language.

Similarly, as the product grows popular, there will be people who use it in fibre optic Internet and there will be people who use it over a flaky 2G connection. And as a product, you will want them to have a consistent experience. A design that requires faster Internet connection for the desired experience fails to work for all audiences.

And then there is the varying form factors of devices, people in varying stages of maturity with the product. The Instagram design should work well for someone who follows a thousand people and for someone who follows just three.

And the new Instagram design is solving for the objective of scaling to a billion people across the world.

Designing our homes, our routines, our lives, pretty much follows the same principles that redesign exercises in big companies do. The design exercise is undertaken not with the primary objective of making it look good to it's audiences, but to solve for a problem. And looking good is simply a hygiene factor. 

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