11 is a weird number. For some reason, it’s the number of Instagram users who need to like your photo/video before a number appears. And it really serves no purpose when you think about it. Why do users with less than 11 likes have to settle for an unnecessary list of usernames?

From a purely design perspective, and a bit of OCD, I hate the way that list looks. It crowds up the screen, and is a complete eyesore. From a users perspective, why does the list even exist? Rather than it adding value, it becomes the constant reminder that whatever the user posted, wasn’t good enough to become a number. Okay I’m being a little dramatic, but I’m just pointing out what I see.

My proposed solution:

If you receive one like on a photo or video, it should just say “1 like”. If you get two likes, then it should say “2 likes”. Okay, you get the point.

Why does this even matter?

Think about how people engage with social media. A lot of the time, people create content that is geared towards them getting a higher engagement. So the thing that used to be about expressing yourself in some form, now revolves around what others want to see. I’m not saying the proposed solution can completely change this human behaviour, but I also wonder if the whole “Reach 11 likes before you see a number” is making the situation any better.

Maybe if we saw a number of likes, regardless of how high or low that number is, we wouldn’t be so fixated on posting content solely for the purpose of getting likes. But hey, what do I know! :)


It looks like Instagram has since changed the way it displays likes. I believe this was part of a mid 2016 UI update.