If you haven’t noticed it yet, Instagram is everywhere. Photos created with the app are filling up your Facebook newsfeed and its gorgeous designs are all over Twitter. People are even creating posters and magnets with the app. And now Apple has named it Best App of the Year.  As iPhone app developers, we here at Ethervision we wanted to find out some of the reasons why Instagram stood out above the rest. Just in case you’re dreaming up the next big thing, here are some of the ways you can adapt Instagram’s best qualities to your own ideas.

1. Creative Customization

instagram picture of buildings

photo provided by Phil Campbell

How Instagram Does it:  Instagram provides several different custom-designed filters and borders, from vintage-themed effects to eye-popping color changes. The result? No photograph looks the same, but users don’t feel overwhelmed with too many options.
How You Can Do It: Just a few customizable features can make users feel like the app was designed for them alone. Let users personalize your app with changeable colors and customizable content.

2. Everyone Feel Like A Pro

instagram shot of birds

photo provided by Libby Bulloff

How Instagram Does it:  With Instagram, it’s incredibly simple to snap photos with your mobile device and edit them with the swipe of a finger. Instead of complex photography jargon, the app uses fun, straightforward filter names like “Lo-Fi” and “1977.” And because it’s easy to switch effects, you can experiment until you get whatever look you want.
How You Can Do It: If your app provides complicated services, use everyday language to explain it to users. At the same time, let them be in control of basic decisions so that they feel like real artists.

3. Free Photos, Unlimited Uploads

instagram pic of airplane wing

photo provided by Chieko Uemura

How Instagram Does It: Not only is Instagram free to download and use, but users also get unlimited uploads. This means they don’t have to worry about using the app too often or uploading too many pictures.
How You Can Do It: While you should be sure to provide some app features for free, unlimited usage helps to hook people to the app, which quickly becomes part of their daily routines. To make a profit, add extra features and more detailed content for a small price.

4. Interactive Interface

instagram community

photo provided by Joanne Garcia

Instagram has its own internal social network that makes the app like a photography museum in the palm of your hand. You can curate your own photo stream and follow the streams of friends and famous photographers.
On the app interface, you can write comments, double-tap to like your favorite pics, and directly talk to other users using the @ sign. Instagram has also integrated a hash-tag system in order to find photos by tags.

5. Built-In Buzz

instagram of facebook

photo provided by Todd Sanders

In addition to its internal network, Instagram seamlessly connects to other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and more. Not only does this integration help users share their photos, but it also brings more users to the app—a win/win for everyone involved.

Instagram was built with sharing in mind, so creating a buzz was sure to happen.  With more and more people connecting their photos through these platforms, the need for more tangible products also arose.  Printing companies have come up with square specific photos, magnets, posters, and even iPhone cases all customizable with your own Instagram pics.

Now it’s Your Turn!

These five basic elements can be worked into new and existing apps in any industry and with any form. Using these features as a guide, new app ideas are sure to bring in users and be hits. If you already have a working app, try integrating these features into updates to improve its social interactivity!

Do you currently use Instagram? What’s your favorite feature of this award-winning app?