Since it first hit our smartphones in 2010, Instagram has been known for its imagery. Cultivating perfectly-thought-out Instagram grids has been a goal for influencers, businesses and general Instagram user alike. During that time, many of us have discovered that a great grid is based on perfectly-square graphics. Lately, however, the platform has given some indications that it may be altering its preferred standard size for images. The ideal size for Instagram graphics may be changing—and here’s what you need to know about it.
Hints at a new preferred size
In July 2022, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri Tweeted a video explaining “a few things we’re working on to make Instagram a better experience.” He goes on to mention the fact that the app is testing a “full-screen version of a Feed” to a select percentage of users.
What this essentially means is content on your Feed would appear in a rectangular format (the shape of your phone) to fill your screen. Mosseri said the “…idea is that a more full-screen experience, not only for videos but for photos, might be more a fun and engaging experience.” He notes that this concept hasn’t been perfected, and it would need to be in order to extend this feature to the Instagram community in its entirety.
Scrolling Instagram now, videos are already appearing in a rectangular format for most users. So, the difference should this new experience be enacted for all users is that photos would also appear rectangularly in the Feed and on the grid.
It’s all about the grid
Backtracking, before we saw Mosseri’s Tweet, we noticed one of our client Instagram grids had already changed over to this new “experience.”
When we format graphics for Instagram, we use a standard square, 1:1 ratio. That way, they perfectly display on a page’s Instagram grid without having any of the information contained in the graphic cut off.
When we saw that this client’s grid had shifted, our square graphics were no longer fitting perfectly in the grid (see examples below).
Grid with square graphics
Grid with rectangular graphics
To break it down further, with the new full-screen experience Mosseri alluded to, the ideal size for Instagram graphics would be a 9:16 ratio. Essentially, that’s a vertical rectangle, not a square like it has been traditionally. Again, the idea is to fill the (smartphone) screen with content, a format that favors a rectangle over a square.
Note: Instagram supports several different size ratios depending on the space within the app where the content is appearing. Here, we are talking about the ideal size for the photos you see when you scroll and grid content as what may be changing.
Aspect ratios everyone should know
The ideal size for Instagram graphics may be changing—so what do we think about that?
First off, it’s important to note the reason why Instagram may be shifting its layout. Speculation is that Instagram is eyeing changes to prioritize video over still images in an effort to compete with TikTok.
“We see this even if we change nothing,” Mosseri said of the proliferation of video on Instagram. He continued saying it may be best to “lean into that shift while continuing to support photos.”
While we don’t necessarily think formatting photos as rectangles instead of squares will damage the integrity of the content itself or the platform as a whole, we do think there’s a bigger trend to consider here.
The fact that Instagram has always been a photo-based platform is what sets it apart. There is truly nothing else like it—not Facebook, not Twitter, not LinkedIn. If a video-based platform is what users are looking for, then perhaps it is best left to TikTok to do what they do best. We’d hate to see Instagram become a carbon copy of TikTok, straying from the unique identity its crafted over the past decade.
The news that the ideal size for Instagram graphics may be changing is important to note; however, keep in mind that this is still in the testing phase and has only affected a very small percentage of users thus far. In fact, it may never make it out of the testing phase!
We’ll keep an eye on it for you—so be sure to check back with us for updates!
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