Instagram: Print Studio

After being at General Assembly for 3 weeks with Project 1 (P1) & Project 2 (P2) under my belt, it was time to gear up for P3. This was an entirely new concept, this time with three team members and rather than an eCommerce website this was going to be designed for mobile, Introducing my P3: Instagram: Print Studio! Excited to start something new I was lucky to be paired with my two partners: Michael Ragland & Alyse Gilbert. I’ve been a huge fan and advocate for the photographic application, being a constant user I had to make sure my opinions did not get in the way of creating an amazing product.

Now with more than 300 million Instagram users. It’s taken only four years in the market to turn into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day.

Instagram is home to creativity in all of its forms, a place where you can find everything from images of the Nile River to the newest look from Herschel Supply or a peek inside the mind of Taylor Swift. ( — from Instagram’s blog).

Project Brief:

Instagram wants to diversify their revenue stream outside of marketing by adding a feature with which users can customize and order physical prints.

Things to Consider:

  • Identify where to incorporate this feature
  • Comprehend how people edit and customize photos to print
  • Design a flow for selecting and editing photos
  • Design the checkout and delivery flow
  • Design key screens using the look and feel of Instagram


14 Days


Task Analysis, Competitive/Comparative Analysis, Contextual Inquiry, Interviews, Business Model Canvas, User Flows, Sketches, Paper Prototyping, Digital Prototyping, Wire framing, Usability testing, and Iterations


Pen, Paper, Whiteboarding, Post Its, iPhone, Android, Computer, Google Forms, Omnigraffle, Sketch, Invision, Keynote, and Quicktime


Business Model Canvas

Instagram’s main revenue stream is through advertising. Basically, it is all digitally monetization, there are no physical products that it produces for it’s users. If they were to incorporate this they would have to consider, labor costs, additional customer support, printing materials, shipping, marketing and more digital storage space. We created the chart below to illustrate the additional resources Instagram would need in order to implement. Unfortunately, we were unable to collect data from the stakeholders and their input on the feature so some of the information added is just retrospective.

Ideal Business Model Canvas with Print Studio


We generated questions that would give us insights regarding user behavior. Main points we learned form our survey:

  • They have had a positive experience ordering photos online
  • They would like other options to print rather just a set of photos
  • Most of the users use the platform several times a day
Some Survey Results

Comparative Analysis

Since this platform has already been created by other companies we decided to do a task analysis where we did a user flow on a competing site. We watched a user test a complete task or contextual inquiry with Sticky 9, Artifact Uprising, and Print Studio. Through our analysis, we came up with pain points, positives attributes, and takeaways we could incorporate in our feature. By taking snapshots and lining up each flow we were able to analyze the calls in action, confusing or redundant buttons, unnecessary pages, and other problems.

Snapshot of Print Studio Comparative Analysis

Overall Pros: Landing page was minimal with obvious calls to action. Minimal content on screen, only see what is necessary. Clean and crisp cart, easy to edit, can checkout or shop more.

Overall Cons: Unselected photos look like they are selected. Certain screens could be combined and eliminated. Colors of the buttons and calls to action changed on pages (can be confusing).

Snapshot of Artifact Uprising Comparative Analysis

Overall Pros: Use of imagery really helps explanation of products. Clear instructions throughout the entire selection process. When loading pictures the Artifact Uprising lets you know this may take some time and to try to connect to WiFi.

Overall Cons: Numbering selection when you add photos, it’s not clear when you add multiple of the same picture. No progress bar in the check out, yet there is one for the selection process.

Location Button tested unneccesary


Interviews were pivotal to find out a deeper understanding of our users’ behavior likes, dislikes and the features they found most popular on Instagram. Our most important facts from interview revealed that 100% of our subjects did not use the location button on the profile. Based on this research, we made a critical design decision which you’ll see later in the prototype.

Research Findings

  1. People would be interested in ordering prints directly through Instagram.
  2. The majority of respondents preferred to send photos as a gift rather than their own personal use.
  3. Respondents wanted other features like set of prints, photo book, poster, and calendar.
  4. The Map/Location button tested to be unnecessary and not used by interviewees.
  5. Online printing had several pain points like confusing user flow, latency issues, and difficulty cropping prints.
  6. Major privacy issues, respondents did not want other people to print their pictures
Janet Mason


Meet Janet Mason, 28, Photographer, lives in East Los Angeles. She checks Instagram several times a day, posts a few times a month. Being more of a lurker than a creator, she’s concerned with privacy, but generally has been satisfied with online print services. Some of her hobbies include drinking coffee with friends, globetrotting, exploring Los Angeles, taking pictures around town, and attending creative events and seminars. Her favorite quote:

“I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.”
— Georgia O’Keefe

Research Based Business Goals & User Needs

  • Seamless, simple, intuitive flow that does not hinder the creation of imagery
  • Clear product details screen (paper type, weight, options)
  • Unobtrusive, easily accessible “print” feature
  • Variety of products (photobooks, posters, cards, loose prints)
  • Easy access to order information / history
  • Quick and easy checkout process
  • Clear review of final product prior to purchase
  • Social integration / functionality
  • Consistent look and feel of Instagram brand throughout entire flow

Janet’s Pain Points

  • Uploading pictures took a long time
  • Instructions were not clear during the selection process
  • Poor quality of photographs
  • Photos had to be cropped before uploading


The holidays are coming and Janet doesn’t know what to get her family, then it dons on her why not give her prints as gifts? Since her family loves her photography.


Product Design & Development

After analyzing our data and identifying our target audience we were able to narrow down to our MVP, hoping not to get carried with scope creep. We did some card sorting, white boarding, leading us to our first sketches and paper prototype.

Card Sorting

User Flows & Sketches

The paper prototype was extremely helpful for our rapid ideation and illustrating the user flow. Adjustments were easy to do and it helped create our vision for the feature.

First Sketches
User Flow # 1

User Testing

User testing helped us uncover that users wanted to choose images they selected to view larger (one of the popular Instagram behaviors), but they wanted to continue onto the Print Studio from there. It was vital to us that every step remained seamless. We even had two navigation bars which led users through product selection and check out, and that proved to be confusing as well. Because we were able to iterate so quickly we were able to come up with an excellent MVP.

Paper Prototype User Testing

Paper Prototyping

I have been an advocate for paper prototyping and sketching, after this project. There were so many details we had forgotten or over looked. Had we just gone straight to digital wire framing it would have wasted time and caused a bit of frustration.


The wireframes were illustrated very well and helped with more user testing. One of the things that was crucial for us was not to create new behavior for the user, especially since Instagram has certain actions when you tap on pictures and you typically do not swipe right or left to get to navigate through the app.

Wireframes made with Omnigraffle

Iterations from User Testing

Through each round of user testing we were able to find and refine the feature through user behavior. The iterations made an enormous difference in the user flow leading to clarity, ease of use, and a quick checkout.

Greta Usertesting our High Fidelity Clickable Protoype

Major iterations throughout the process:

Added alternative flow to get to print studio after user testing
  • Included review of purchase at payment
  • Eliminated arrows on screens with calls to action
  • Changes to visual design to reflect Instagram brand
  • Changes to nomenclature
Eliminating and adding arrows certain on screens provided clarity for users.
  • Replaced checkmarks with arrows (from paper prototype to digital)
  • Eliminated a progress bar (only one for checkout)
  • Added selected states and duplicate functionality

High Fidelity Prototype

Check out our

High-Fidelity Prototype

Next Steps

  • Should users be able to print other people’s images?
  • Ensure that pricing and shipping modalities are in line with business goals
  • Add ability to make changes to order on final review
  • Automatically fill in known personal information fields
  • Increase size of typeface

Last Thoughts

Overall we great group harmony, we really jived well together, making sure at every step of the process that we were all on the same page. Diverging and converging as a team really helped our overall process. Being able to do things autonomously and come back and pitch ideas to one another moved us along. Also, having different yet compatible personalities allowed us to approach ideas and problems from different angles.

Pictures taken @kristentersteeg @courtney.leigh.brown & @abs7m from Artifact Uprising