Browsing Instagram from the firm’s Android and iOS apps is lovely. It’s super smooth, all of the photos are gorgeous to look at and the use of white space is thoughtful and effective, yet reserved.
Instagram on the Web, meanwhile, kind of sucks. On the home screen, photos look lost at sea, stranded with acres of unused space on either side. The thumbnail previews shown on individual user profiles are too small, and there’s no way to search for other users or hashtags.
Copygram is hoping to change that. The firm emerged back in 2011 with its own browser-based Instagram platform (this was before the photo-sharing service launched its own) that also gave users the ability to download all of their images for posterity.
The firm then expanded the concept with the Copygram Print Shop; a service for developing and printing users’ favorite square crop photos.
The company is returning with a redesigned site that it hopes will best Instagram’s official offering in nearly every way on the Web. There’s a lot of promise; the home feed uses a rather attractive design, placing photos in neat rows of three. All of the user data is invisible at first glance – you’ll need to roll over the image to reveal the photographer and community feedback, as well as add a new ‘like’ or comment.
Each photo has its own dedicated page. Comments and likes are placed on the left-hand side of the screen, where users can add their own thoughts at any time. The original caption is displayed underneath, on top of a light grey background that helps the image to really pop on the screen.
Users can review a feed of their latest likes, as well as drop into the Copygram Print Shop – a clear move to monetize the service. It’s also possible to connect multiple accounts, which should appeal to marketers and social media managers down the line.
A huge omission at the moment though is the ability to search for specific users or hashtags. Copygram has this in their roadmap – hashtag pages already work provided you type them into the browser manually – but it really can’t come soon enough.
Who knows what Instagram will make of all this. It has been cracking down on unofficial Windows Phone apps recently, and updated its brand guidelines to ban anything featuring ‘Insta” or “Gram” in their names. For now though, Copygram is a solid substitute for Instagram’s own site. If it can quickly expand its feature set even further, it’ll be a no-brainer for any fans of the service.