Instagram's redesign: Why do we hate it?

IDG.TV | May 24, 2016

From Uber to Instagram, the surprising reason why we freak out every time an app gets a new redesign.

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Instagram’s got a brand-new look, but people are not that into it. Here’s the reason why we always hate when our favorite apps get a new redesign.


Earlier this month, Instagram redesigned its app icon from the old-timey instant camera to a flat, minimalistic box-with-a-dot. And this new redesign has not gotten many hearts. I don’t happen to have this crazy hatred for it, but I can definitely see why people think it looks like it was designed by a smug 90s child actor using the gradient editor in Photoshop.

And it’s not just Instagram that’s gotten criticized after an app redesign. Uber and Airbnb have also experienced recent “design fails.” But to be honest, those apps actually succeeded – in looking like really kinky sex apps.

Regardless of how subtle or seemingly atrocious a new redesign actually is, people always tend to have strong negative reactions. Turns out that this inexplicable hate has more to do with you, than with the work of some brainy designers up in Silicon Valley.

It all comes down to the fact that we now associate our favorite apps as being part of our personal identity. We check our phones 46 times a day, of course the app icons on our homescreens are an integral part of our daily lives. So when we see an app icon change for whatever reason, we’re unconsciously thrown for a loop. Everything we thought we knew all of the sudden becomes uncertain. And our brains can’t seem to reconcile that what used to be a part of our personal identity is now just a rainbow in a box.

So, basically, the more you love Instagram, the more you think it says something about you as a person, the more negative your reaction will be when it suddenly changes out of your control. And if we can’t even have control of our iPhone homescreen, it makes you wonder, What do we have control of? I never thought that an Instagram redesign would spark my generation’s big existential crisis but here we are.

So if you hate whenever your favorite app goes through a redesign, congratulations, you’re still human! The silver lining is that the brain is also very adaptable. With enough time, you’ll get used to the new redesign until it becomes familiar again. Pretty soon, that old instant camera will seem as dated as, well, an instant camera.
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