Customized Filters

for instagram




Mar 2019, a 6-hour design challenge

Personal Project

Pen & Paper, Sketch, Photoshop

Design Test

Think of an app or other software product you use. Identify something you think could be improved in this product and show us how you would improve it.

Design Goals

I selected Instagram. As an active user, I like it to share the life's moments visually, but I can see there's something can be improved to provide a better experience of "sharing the world's moments". The design objectives of the test include:

  • Discover the user needs (based on user data and me myself as a typical user)

  • Define problems and design opportunities

  • Figure out several quick solutions

  • Select and refine a final solution


Instagram is a popular App for users to share beautiful moments by photo and video. Users use it to share the life, connect to others, explore the world, and be inspired. Apart from sharing fun moments of life, people use Instagram to show their unique styles and brand themselves.

Instagram filters is one of the most appreciated feature because it provides an easy and quick way to create nice and professional images. Filters can also make the images look cohesive, helping users build styling personal homepage (the beautiful grids). However, users cannot create their own filters/save their customized settings as filters in Instagram right now. That makes it hard and time-wasting when users want to edit a series of photo by customized settings (there's 14 editing options).


Customized filters.

Users are allowed to create customized filters on Instagram without any third-party tools. Users can either add customized filters in the filter section or save the current settings as a customized filter. With customized filters, users can apply the filters to a bunch of images by one-click, turning their images to the unique and cohesive personal styles easily and quickly.

Understand Instagram

Understanding the company helps define problems and design opportunities. The design opportunities should align with the company's values and purposes. The keywords of Instagram are "share" and "connect". The mission of the App is to "share the world's moments".

Compared to other social media platforms, what make Instagram unique?

  • Visual-storytelling platform (people engage better with visuals rather than words);

  • Quick and easy photo editing features (especially the filters).

Understand Users: Who are the (active) users?

Because of the time limitation of the test, I didn't do user interviews or other survey. Instead, I searched the 2018 Instagram user reports.

68% females

59% aged 18-29

#love #food #fashion #style

Visual-focus, love beautiful images

Why are they using Instagram?

For personal users:

  • Many people are on it, so it’s a great platform to share life moments

  • Easy and quick to get beautiful images, so it’s great to build and show personal brand



  • Connect with others, more engagement

  • Create and show unique personal style

For enterprise accounts:

  • Branding

  • Ads




  • More user engagement

  • Show the brand

Pain Points

Based on the user data reports, I categorized the main user tasks:

  • View homepage (recent posts)

  • Post photo & build beautiful and cohesive grids (personal homepage)

  • Share fun moments to stories

  • Search & explore


As an active and typical user, I brainstormed several points that could be improved under those primary user tasks.

Findings & Design Opportunity

Users use Instagram to show personal style and brand themselves.


We love how easy and quick to use filters to get beautiful and cohesive images, but using the default filters cannot always get the desired look and feel. While using customized settings can’t guarantee consistency because users cannot save the settings and re-use it.


Therefore, there is the design opportunity of creating customized filters on Instagram.

Design Strategy

Allow users to create customized filters within Instagram.


  • No third-party tools: instagram provides third-party tools to help make creative posts, but installing another App is a burden for users.

  • Easy and quick to add and use the filters

  • Keep the filter section clear and simple, easy to organize the customized filters



User wants to create a unique filter.


Add customized filters in the filter section.

Put all the customized filters into a folder.


Categorize default filters and customized filters into two folders.


Add customized filters in the filter manager.


User finds the current settings look great and wants to save as a filter.

Add a “Save as filter” button at the beginning of the editing options.

Final Solution

The final solution is the combination of option-2 for scenario-1 + the solution for scenario-2

  • It requires fewer actions to add filters in the filter section rather than in the filter manager;

  • Categorizing filters in folders makes a clear information hierarchy, saves space, and keeps the filter section clean and simple; it will be easier to organize if Instagram or users added more filters in the future.

User Flow

Add customized filters in the filter section

Save current settings as a customized filter

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© 2018-2021 by Zhangyan Ling