If your Instagram grid is a carefully cultivated work of art — something you've strived to structure according to the rule of three or color coordinate by row — the app's latest test may put you on edge. According to multiple user posts on Twitter, Instagram may be preparing to switch to a four-across photo grid, rather than the three-across grid that has existed since the app's beginning.
It isn't unusual for Instagram to test new features with selected users before rolling them out to the public. This happened before the launch of slideshows earlier this year, and also in June with Favorites. (Favorites is still not available to everyone.) These tests are usually random, so it's often Instagram users, and not the press, who report the disparities in their feeds first.
That's what seems to be happening with Instagram's grid. Yesterday, concerned users took to Twitter to report what looks to be a grid test: Their grids had switched, seemingly overnight, to show four images across instead of three. It could be a glitch, but the number of people noticing the change makes testing seem more likely.
For those who could care less about their grids, the change may seem minor and inconsequential. But for influencers, celebs, and anyone who uses their Instagram to market their business or personal brand, it would be a major change if Instagram does decide to officially release it. Apps offering organizational grid strategies would also need to incorporate the changes.
Photos appear smaller to accommodate four in a row, and anyone who previously attempted to align their grid in a specific order will find the arrangement completely thrown off.
It isn't clear why Instagram would want to mess with its classic grid formula, but if this really is a test, it could be part of a larger strategy to change how people are using the app. At a New York Fashion Week event for press, Eva Chen, Instagram's director of fashion partnerships, noted a shift in the types of photos being posted: There are fewer posed, perfectionist shots. If Instagram is attempting to completely disrupt the "perfect photo," switching up grids could do it.
Of course, this is speculation — maybe the alterations really were just a glitch. Though if Instagram's testing history is anything to go by, it might be wise to start thinking how you'll deal with the change in the event it does happen.