I’m one of the billion or so people who love Instagram. It’s not quite an addiction, I guess…

Side note (literally!), I’m going to start trying to post shorter form entries. Not that previous posts could at all be considered “longform”. But in my head, at least, I was presupposing a way too high a level of investment from would-be posts, and as a result just never writing. I’m about to get way more slapdash about it all.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for the filters, the forced uniformity of the 1x1 aspect ratio (and damn the users that letterbox), and the double-tap-to-like user interactions that the apps offer. But there are just a few oddly missing features that really confuse me. Here’s a couple of them:

Zooming

This one is truly baffling and often times really upsetting. I follow some incredibly talented artists on Instagram, and they often post what I know are ultra-detailed shots that could probably blow up to mural size. Unfortunately, in Instagram, I’m limited to what the dimensions of my phone screen will show me. I don’t get it. Pinch and spread to control zoom seems like such an obvious feature to implement in a picture viewing application, but the functionality just is not there!

Oh yeah, and avatars… Forget the size of my phone screen, when it comes to avatars I’m forced to look at tiny little circles with no chance to getting a decent look at the people I’m following. Infuriating.

Don’t break prevalent mental models

In the iOS Instagram application, whenever the number of likes on a particular pictures rises above 10, a blue integer is displayed where previously a list of profile-hyperlinked usernames would have been shown. That blue digit is not click-able, as one would expect. This break with standard UX models is easily remedied through the creation of a dedicated page of profile-hyperlinked usernames.

Feed design

Feeds in Instagram are too rigidly constrained, and don’t help me get to the pictures I want I to see. Instead there’s the often forgotten about “suggested pictures” feature, which uses simple network analysis techniques to show you like chains (i.e., the things liked by users that liked the things you liked, etc). This seems weirdly limiting.

Feeds should get revamped as arrays of user and topic tuples. This would allow users to filter down to only certain categories of pictures a user they follow posts, which would be great for people that post a wide variety of pictures with equally varied levels of success. Moreover, either side of the tuple should be wildcard-able. I should be able to follow a specific topic across the Instagram community, or follow a specific user with no filter. Finally, likes should be considered a topic, that way we can get around that other obviously missing feature (i.e., the lack of a built in “re-gram” function).