Thoughts on Engineering, Photography, and Design.

Hey, I'm Ryan Heath. I design & develop things for a living and play with cameras for fun. This is where I share my thoughts on all of that — and probably more — along the way.

The Instagram Square

All images posted to Instagram must be a squared crop before they can be uploaded. I personally think this was a brilliant move. Here’s why:

  • Squares are proportionally correct. There are no misalignments or elongated edges.
  • Forcing a user to choose a cropped square has somewhat of a Dribbble effect in that it demands the most interesting section of the picture.
  • Squares are predictable in terms of designing an interface. It’d be hard to argue that against the fact that better designs can be built around images that are all of the same aspect ratio. Guesswork for unknown shapes creep into design decisions early and can look clunky more often than not, and when you’re dealing with something that is largely for visual purpose (i.e. photo galleries), that matters.
  • Easier implementation has to be mentioned, since there’s no post-processing needed to crop images into squares.
  • There are no surprises: what goes in is what comes out. The image proportions remain exactly as they were prior to upload.

I don’t know if those things were considered beforehand or if it was a side-effect of some other reasoning, but I do know that I’m glad Instagram only supports squared images. It’s one of the reasons I keep coming back.