Do you find well-thought-out Instagram feeds as appealing as we do? If so, let's find out if it's possible to create such a feed without a designer's help and how you can visually plan it.
We've talked to the Combin design team – Sergey, Sasha, and Max – and picked up the most actionable advice on the matter.
If visual Instagram aesthetics is still your struggle, keep on reading!
⚡Tip: preview your Instagram grid layout with Combin Scheduler, an unparalleled Instagram planning tool. Curate a stylish Instagram profile with a solid visual voice using a simple drag-and-drop feature.
Why You Should Plan Your Instagram Feed in Advance
Building a visual concept on Instagram is crucial for accurate and recognisable communication with your audience. It takes lots of time and effort, and sometimes multiple experiments and analyses should be performed to assemble the visual branding on Instagram.
Yet, as our Lead Designer reckons, visual communication is necessary to increase brand awareness, grow a loyal community of customers, and give extra value to a product or service.
Beyond that, people pay much attention to attractive visuals online, and as a brand or an influencer, your task is to draw people's attention when coming up with an Instagram visual concept. To do so, plan content in advance – this will help you avoid mistakes and build up the potential to stand out among your competitors.
To sum it up, planning Instagram feed in advance does the following:
- Increases brand awareness;
- Helps to draw people's attention right from the first seconds of engaging with your account;
- Adds value to your product, service, and brand in general;
- Helps build a loyal community of followers and customers;
- Allows you to stand out among dozens of your competitors.
⚡️Tip: plan Instagram feed with Combin Scheduler and preview your feed right in the app. Schedule posts, stories, make reposts, add a link in bio and more!
Can You Build an Aesthetically Appealing Instagram Grid If You're Not a Designer?
The first question you should ask yourself before working on an Instagram feed is why you want to create a polished grid and whether you need this at all. If all you wish is to stand out from the Instagram crowd, finding your unique selling points might be sufficient. These are not necessarily images or any other visuals.
If you answered resoundingly 'yes' to the question and a consistent Instagram feed is what you strive for, then you can't do without professional counsel or watchfulness in terms of visuals.
You can start with replicating or reproducing visuals of those accounts you personally find appealing. Then, as the time passes, you will start to comprehend what you should do better, fuel your creativity and get yourself to the next level.
But our answer to the question we stated in the title is definitely a yes!
Tips That Contribute to Visual Concept on Instagram
Visual aesthetics and concept largely depend on your audience, or rather how big it is. If you create a niche product and your target audience is narrow enough, you can simply dig deeper into what they like and create visual images that they will find attractive.
If you have large followership, which is diverse, then it makes things a bit more complicated because your visuals can't be equally appealing to all of your followers. Yet, even if this is the case, there are tips that might be helpful:
- Evoke emotions with your visual content. Analyse which visuals your audience engages with the most. You can do it by experimenting with the visual content, posting something that you think might get a response in stories (pets or memes, for instance), or simply asking your followers what they'd like to see. Or you can incite emotions by mixing different styles or colours: leveraging 3D, unusual textures, or gradients will also be on point when trying to draw people's attention.
2. Be mysterious and unspoken. Play with your audience motivating them to learn more by concealing part of the visual or using word plays in the images.
3. Be unique. Leverage your own photoshoots or create graphics that doesn't look like someone else's.
4. Be honest and sincere. No need to create a polished feed all the time; sometimes, photos made with your smartphone will do even better. Don't worry if there are imperfect angles or details you didn't intend to include in your photos.
5. Use clear typography. Especially if that is a text-based image. Align text left, use capital letters, and be consistent with the sizes of the text blocks – a title should be bigger than the text body and captions should be smaller than all other text blocks. Note that you shouldn't add more than four different text sizes.
6. Mix close-ups and wide shots. This will make your feed looks a lot more endearing.
7. Mix your selfies and stories about you with posts about your service if you're promoting a self-service or product you make on your own (coaching, teaching, freelance work, DIY stuff, etc.). This will make you and your service a single whole, build up engaging communication with your followers, increase trust and credibility to your service or product.
Absolute Don'ts in Visual Aesthetics on Instagram
As our product designer Max says, what you should avoid by any means is to be boring and afraid to experiment! Sometimes, even stock images might be presented in an interesting manner and look even better than original yet low-quality photo content.
It's better to do something than not to do anything at all! There are no strict rules – everything depends on the specific context and your goals.
If you're just starting building your visual brand voice on Instagram, Max suggests that you shouldn't use more than two different fonts and their sizes in one image. Instead, choose one for headlines, another one for a caption, and this will be enough at this point.
Here's the project that can perfectly showcase this approach.
Besides, think through the colour palette in advance, considering the main colours and their shades. But don't use too many colours in order not to overload your audience.
For a start, you can use this colour chart and pick a palette from it.
As per Sasha, 'If you're new to photo editing, you should use apps that allow you to create presets that you can apply to different images to make sure the visuals look consistent'.
Images with different brightness and saturation don't look particularly good on Instagram.
Another piece of advice here is not to use too many filters on your images, keep them consistent in terms of colours, and use no more than six colours at once. Apart from the colour chart, you can also pick a palette on Adobe Color or generate one in the AI-based solution Khroma.
Tips to Use When Taking Photos of Your Products
If you build the Instagram visual concept around the products you sell, then of extreme importance should be good lighting for photographs and background colour.
Max implies you can create a pro-level photo studio right at home or office. Here are the tips he suggests:
- Find sources of natural daylight or bright artificial light sources.
- Use a home-made paper light filter to make your images look soft and devoid of contrast shadows.
- Experiment with colour backgrounds or hang your products on an invisible transparent fishing line to make them look creative.
Sasha adds that you should find the inimitable style and visual language of your photos so that people could easily recognise your brand. How to do so? With a unique background, a detail that is necessarily present on each photo, single photo preset, or a whole unique picture frame.
Simply put, be creative – your followers will appreciate a unique approach! Don't forget to clearly and concisely showcase your product, not just create a smashing visual.
Apps to Build Visual Aesthetics on Instagram
To make your Instagram photo content look consistent and aesthetically appealing, you can use a wealth of image editing apps. Some that our designers recommend are:
- Snapseed – photo-editing app for iPhones and Android smartphones with enhanced functionality.
- VSCO – renowned app with plenty of filters.
- Unfold – a toolkit for storytellers with elegant presets.
- Picsart – a handy mobile photoshop.
- Bazaart – an award-winning photo editor and graphic design app that helps you easily create beautiful photos, professional designs & stunning collage art.
- Lightroom – super handy app with advanced functionality for photo editing.
- Splice – a photo editing tool that allows you to edit visuals like a pro.
- Figma – an absolute must-have for aspiring and seasoned designers alike.
- Plays: Animation Design Kit – the app allowing you to find a talent of a motion designer.
These are simple, easy-to-use apps that even novices can handle; some of them have pre-made templates and presets that you can start with.
💡Suggested read: 28 Best Instagram Apps to Create Smashing Visuals in 2022
Custom Fonts on Instagram: Pros and Cons
You've probably noticed that many brands and creators on Instagram use custom fonts to draw followers' attention to their captions. We've talked to our design team to once and for all figure out if the custom fonts should be used or this is old news.
Our Lead Designer Sergey considers that there's nothing wrong with using fonts unless it's appropriate enough. Custom fonts can be attention-grabbing, though sometimes it's tricky to read them. So the advice is to use fonts that can be easily read.
Pick fonts that can be easily comprehended: make sure that your followers can recognise the words behind them as hassle-free as you do.
Max, on the contrary, thinks that a plain caption with a native Instagram font can be your advantage as custom fonts create an additional cognitive load. And to keep it simple on the field that is so competitive for attention might be your unique point.
According to Sasha, 'I think the Unicode custom fonts are a bit old-fashioned, but they do no harm if they correspond with your account's concept. For instance, if the concept is ℭ𝔬𝔪𝔦𝔠𝔞𝔩 𝔊𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔦𝔠, this font will be well on point'.
💡Suggested read: How to Write in Different Fonts on Instagram
Instead of a Bottom Line
Hopefully, our design team helped you with the Instagram aesthetics struggle and provided you with the plain counsel.
Just remember that even if Instagram is a visually-based platform, being responsible before your audience, ethical as a brand, and transparent when you deliver your values and images mean a lot more than a polished look. On occasions, words and concepts are more precious than the most delightful pictures.