To say Instagram has had a busy year is an understatement. From being awarded Apple Inc.’s 2011 App of the Year, reporting over one million downloads on the Android Market on opening day and the blockbuster acquisition by Facebook, the team at Instagram is always making headlines. Earlier this month, Instagram made waves again by launching Web Profiles, officially adding an online platform for users beyond their smartphone.
This is a big step forward for members of the Instagram community as you no longer need to be on a mobile device to manage your account and explore the accounts of others. The functions within the new Web Profiles include the ability to edit your profile and follow other users, as well as like and comment on photos. Another enhancement is that all accounts listed as public can be viewed by anyone online. You no longer need to be a registered Instagram user. This is a great addition for people who do not actively take photos within the mobile application, but enjoy viewing the collections of other members. However, privacy is still maintained if your account is listed as private. One function that was purposely removed from the new web platform is the ability to produce, edit and upload photos. For now, smartphones will be the sole method of taking and uploading pictures. Instagram hints in its deployment letter that it chose to remain focused on the mobile production of photos. This is a wise choice as Instagram’s success has been due largely to the social network’s ability to share what we see in our daily lives in a way that no one else has matched.
It makes sense for Instagram to continue developing Web Profiles since other online services such as Statigram, Webstagram and INK361 have offered similar profile page experiences for some time now. Statigram, for instance, provides on-the-fly analytics and infographics ranging from how many likes your account has received, to favorite filters and most-used hashtags. To compete with the current market of unique features each third-party alternative has to offer, Instagram will certainly have to provide more features and customization to its users. It would be very useful to provide a method for editing which photos appear in the Web Profile’s header animation. The “photos” “following” and “followers” icons directly below the header animation appear to be clickable to reveal more information or another page but are, in fact, static graphics.
You may already have a Web Profile without realizing it. Simply go to instagram.com/username to see. The header image is a revolving scrapbook of your recent photos, and your collection follows chronologically down the page. A great example page is the @Tier10 Instagram account.
As Instagram looks for new and intuitive ways to enhance its photo-sharing network, be on the lookout for updates enhancing Web Profiles in the near future. In the short time since Web Profiles have been made public, a second update has been introduced: Web Badges.
As seen above, Badges are simple HTML code snippets available to promote your account with a simple graphic on any website. Using this properly is a great way to promote your photographs through your personal blog or website. Keep up with the latest updates as Instagram pushes further into web platforms with its official blog or, as always, by following Tier10lab.