Instagram is almost aggressively mobile-focused — browsing Instagram.com often feels like being punished for not using the app. Today, Instagram announced a redesigned Instagram website that feels a little less like a half-abandoned hellscape afterthought.
Beginning today — and rolling out over the course of the week, as an Instagram rep told me today — your feed and your profile, along with hashtag pages, will switch over to a redesigned web format. Instead of the skeuomorph-heavy old design, where each photo was a "card" against textured backgrounds and old-timey photo motifs, your photos are now simply squares arranged on a light grey background. It looks more like a Cargo Collective portfolio or a Tumblr theme than a mobile app's web presence.
Those comparisons seem intentional — Instagram is in the midst of a long, slow transition from a fun-times BBQ snapshot app to a service that's attracting users ranging from professionals who want a less formal outlet and publishers which want to showcase the work of their art and photography staff.
An Instagram spokesperson told me over email that the web overhaul is part of a focus on making the service more web-friendly, adding that last month Instagram's newish embed feature, which lets websites embed photos on third party sites, was used to view photos 4.7 billion times.
It's long overdue, though incomplete, design update — and it could be a hint at what the app, and the web, will eventually morph into: Less of a social photo app and more of a photo sharing service.