The ultimate Instagram Grid Layout Guide will cover everything you need to know to create a stylish and strategic Instagram Grid for your brand or clients’ brands. We’ll also take a look at 5 different approaches to Grids and how brands are using them.

Let’s talk Instagram Grids. There are as many strategies surrounding their use as there are Instagram accounts.

Finding the best approach for your IG Grid setup may be a challenge, but it’s a decision that every social media marketer should consider.

This guide seeks not only to showcase what Instagram Grid layout options are popular in 2021, but to help you focus on what you need to consider when designing your Grid.

Table Of Contents

What’s an Instagram Grid, and Why Does it Matter?

Example of Instagram Grid layout from Rock Social

Instagram Grids are what users see when they visit an Instagram account’s profile.

To see what we’re talking about, simply log into your Instagram account, click on an account name, and scroll past the bio and highlights. Here it is.

Instagram’s Grid View has often been compared to a magazine – a colorful summary of a brand’s identity.

A quick scroll gives the user a sense of what the brand is all about and what kind of content they’ll see if they follow the account.

Instagram Grids give marketers the exciting opportunity to use IG posts to tell a brand story and give visitors a sense of the brand with a quick glance.

The importance of the Grid view cannot be understated. It is the last thing a user sees before they decide whether or not to click the big blue “Follow” button.

Alright, you get it, Instagram Grids are important. So how do you use Grid layouts to your advantage?

Planning Your IG Grid Layout

Although IG Grids are an excellent way of communicating what your brand is about, it’s essential that your account has a developed brand identity.

No grid system is strong enough to support a brand that uses inconsistent imagery, colors, content and branding. If you haven’t already, we suggest developing a brand guide that clearly and specifically describes your brand colors, fonts, and text.

It should also focus on photos: what color tones, layouts and angles are used? Are your photos busy or minimalist?

But it’s not just about brand identity – we suggest approaching your grid layout selection with your social media business objectives in mind. You can design a beautiful Instagram Grid, but if it’s not serving a purpose, what’s the point?

Finally, keep in mind your social media posting schedule. Some Grid layouts dictate how frequently you post, and what content is posted. Similarly, if you need the flexibility to occasionally delete posts, a highly structured Instagram Grid layout may not work for you.

Did you know? HeyOrca’s social media calendar tool for agencies lets you schedule and publish posts directly to Instagram?

HeyOrca also comes with an Instagram Grid Preview tool that lets you and your clients see exactly how scheduled posts will appear on your client’s Grid and drag & drop posts to produce the perfect Instagram Grid Layout.

Want to Save Time Managing Social Media Posts, Client Approvals, and Reports?

HeyOrca lets you effortlessly schedule social media posts, collaborate with clients, get client approvals, and report on your results… all from one place.

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5 Types of Instagram Grid Layout Designs

The creative potential of grids is limitless. If Instagram Grids are your canvas, then posts are your paintbrush.

Even if you’re already certain which Grid layout is best for your brand, we recommend that you play around and experiment a bit to see how your content could be arranged – you may be surprised that what you thought was your ideal grid isn’t actually the best for your purposes. 

Don’t forget – this list is far from exhaustive. Think of it as more of a jumping off point as you play around with different gridding systems. Consider combining different variations of the grid types mentioned below to form a grid variation specific to your brand.

Let’s take a close look at some examples of Instagram Grid layouts. 🧐

1. The “No-Grid” IG Grid Layout

What is it?

Think of the “No Grid” Grid as the “Keep it Simple, Stupid” of Instagram Grid Layouts. The only guiding principles for building this style of Grid is to follow your gut, and post whatever you feel works with the content you’ve already created.

“No-Grid” Instagram Grid layout example

Who should use the “No-Grid” layout?

Perhaps for your account, the best Instagram Grid layout strategy is no strategy at all. If your brand has a spontaneous feel to it, with a strong human element, the simplicity of not having a structured layout can actually be a benefit.

This style of IG Grid Layout is especially useful for folks who have a short Instagram scheduling timeline or make frequent changes to their post schedules.

Things to consider:

  • The major downfall of the “‘No Grid” Grid is that – counterintuitively – it can actually be more time intensive as you have to make more decisions, rather than following the guidelines and structure dictated by your Grid layout strategy. With this model, you have no rules or system to determine what can be posted when – instead, you need to follow your gut.

  • It’s easy to go down the slippery slope into rushed Instagram content that feels disconnected.

  • A “No Grid” Grid is the default for most accounts, and subsequently a brand without a Grid layout system will risk appearing less polished.

  • It’s easy to forget about the overall style of your Grid as you schedule your posts.

2. The Framed Grid Layout

What is it?

The Framed Instagram Grid Layout is an approach that includes a border on every post. Frequently, these borders are evenly slim and all white, but often brands opt for a more artistic frame for their posts, including vignetting, using a colorful border, or varying border widths on images.

Framed Instagram Grid layout examples

White border Instagram Grid Layout example
Rezaid Agency uses subtle white borders on their Instagram Grid
Internal border Instagram Grid layout example
Destination Agency frames their IG posts by adding a subtle, colored stroke within their graphic
Gold border IG Grid layout example
Kalia Digital uses a few variations of gold lines to frame their IG posts

Who should use the Framed Grid layout?

Editing your photos to include a white border is a popular strategy amongst minimalist brands, and for a good reason. The white border merges into the white padding that separates photos within Instagram; the result is a series of posts that look like photos framed on a wall.

The benefit of this approach is that it gives your Grid a curated feel that resembled a spread from a magazine.

We find this approach to “gridding” works well for accounts that have a strong visual component to their brand identity – think lifestyle brands, photography accounts or artists. B2B accounts or more maximalist accounts may find borders to feel off-brand.

It’s also suitable for social media managers that schedule a lot of content and don’t have the bandwidth to creatively interconnect each of their posts. It’s an easy, low-effort approach to creating consistency across your posts.

Things to consider:

  • If you plan on posting a variety of video content, taking the white border approach will add an extra editing step to your workflow.

  • It also, perhaps obviously, makes all content you post take up less space on the end user’s device. This isn’t a negative, but it’s something to consider if your photos tend to be busy, or to include small but important details like text.

  • If Instagram Shopping or tagging other accounts is essential to your business, you may find the little icons in the corner of posts to be an eyesore that takes away from the minimalism of the white border strategy.

  • Keep in mind that users viewing Instagram in dark mode will see a different layout – make sure to check out how your Grid looks in dark mode before committing to a Grid layout with borders.

3. The Color-Based Instagram Grid

What is it?

Imagine the freedom of the “No-Grid” Instagram Grid Layout, but with a visual continuity throughout the photos. The images are limited to a selected filter or color palette: pastels, black and white, all one color, earth tones – etc.

The Color-Based Instagram Grid approach goes beyond simply knowing your brand aesthetic. It forces you to limit your photos to colors that truly represent your brand.

The beauty of this layout style is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you want. You could ensure that all posts have the same color palette, or assign different color themes to posts based on their position in the grid.

Color-based Instagram Grid layout examples

Color-based IG Grid layout example
Sticking with their color-theme of earthy tones, A Creative Co has a beautiful color-based IG Grid
Color-themed Instagram Grid layout example
Monsanti Social Media Management uses its vibrant yellow and black color theme to create a stylish IG Grid and bold posts that stand out
Color-based and Patterned Instagram Grid Layout Example
Social City Consulting combines the color-based Instagram Grid approach with Patterns in their masterfully-executed IG Grid. We’ll touch on Patterned Grids shortly…

Who should use the Color-Based Grid layout?

Virtually any account can take advantage of the Color-Based Instagram Grid layout. It is arguably the easiest way to create a unified feel for a Grid, as the only requirement is to follow the color guidelines you put in place yourself.

It’s an extremely flexible system for marketers who find themselves having to generate or delete content on the fly.

Things to consider:

  • If you don’t sell a lifestyle product, or if you’re in the B2B vertical, an Instagram Grid strategy that is heavily reliant on colors might be outside of your brand identity.

  • User-generated content might not fit organically into your feed if it doesn’t match your color palette.

  • Quality content that fits your business objectives but doesn’t match your color palette will stick out like a sore thumb. This can sometimes be mitigated with careful Grid planning, but it’s an additional task nonetheless!

  • Depending on the complexity of your approach, you might need to schedule posts in batches to avoid throwing off the consistency of your Color-Based Instagram Grid Layout.

Looking to streamline your social media and client approval process?

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4. The Patterned IG Grid Layout

What is it?

When it comes to design, Patterned Grids are the most visually appealing.

Patterned Grid Layouts can be found on any Instagram Grid that use a repeating pattern. This includes checkerboard Grids, row-based Grids, and more complicated systems.

Human brains love patterns, and noticing a pattern can be enough to convince us to keep scrolling!

Here are just a few of the many patterns you can incorporate into your Patterned Instagram Grid layout:

  • Diagonal patterns
  • Alternating rows
  • Checkers
  • Alternating text vs image posts
  • Vertical columns

Patterned Instagram Grid layout examples

Example of patterned Instagram Grid layout with color theme
Dolly Social uses a color-based approach to create a patterned Instagram Grid layout
alternating rows patterned IG grid example
Personal Journal App uses alternating rows of images + text-based posts to achieve a visually-pleasing patterned Grid layout
Patterned Column IG Grid Layout Example
The folks at JumpStartNOW take the Patterned IG Grid Layout approach by dedicating the first column of their Grid to text-based images with the same layout/design.
alternating graphic IG grid example
By combining turquoise-themed graphics with alternating images, Social Media 55 nails it with their patterned Grid layout

Who should use the Patterned Grid layout?

Patterned Grid layouts are ideal for Brands that focus heavily on visual posts and creative design. While they can be kept simple, they often require pre-planning and creative bandwidth to design post assets.

If you operate on a short timeline or don’t have the in-house resources to create stunning graphics, you may want to consider a simpler approach to Instagram Grids.

Things to consider:

  • When choosing your Grid layout, keep in mind that a longer pattern length means can cause complications when deleting or editing posts. If you ever find yourself needing to delete a post, you’ll need to delete all other posts in its cycle to keep the pattern consistent.

  • Because this style of Instagram Grid layout is built on the foundation of patterns, you’ll want to consider scheduling your Instagram posts in batches to avoid disrupting the style of your Grid.

  • To some users, strict Patterned Grids may appear a little boring – you can expect the same, generic content in a short cycle. Make sure to keep your pattern engaging, and be quick to mix it up if your social media reporting shows that posts are not performing to your liking.

  • Some Patterned Instagram Grid layouts, such as row-based grids, look their best when all three posts of the row are posted at a time. This impacts how you schedule posts and is something to keep in mind.

5. The Puzzle Instagram Grid Layout (AKA The Big Picture Grid)

What is it?

Perhaps the most controversial of the Grid layouts listed in this guide is the “Puzzle Grid” layout. In this layout, a larger image is broken into a series of smaller squares that fit together like puzzle pieces to reveal a “single image.”

The downside is obvious: While the photos might look stunning when viewed together on an Instagram Grid, the individual posts won’t make sense when viewed on a users’ Instagram feed.

Puzzle IG Grid layout examples

Puzzle Grid Layout Example
Bliss Consults’ Instagram Puzzle Grid is nothing short of stunning and really showcases their creative chops.
Instagram Puzzle Grid Example
Steph Social‘s beautiful, mural-style Puzzle Grid is a work of art. Literally!
Puzzle IG Grid example
Moleskine‘s approach to the Puzzle Grid layout is done in a way where posts are interconnected but can live independently. While the 3 notebooks are meant to be connected to each other on the same row, a disruption to the flow doesn’t throw off the puzzle entirely!

Who should use the Puzzle Grid layout?

The Puzzle Grid Instagram layout is best used in small doses. Think special campaigns, new product launches, or when launching a new account.

Users are most likely going to see your posts on their feed before making their way to your Instagram Grid. When taking this approach, you should use it in tandem with other Grid layout strategies so that your individual posts won’t appear incomplete or misplaced in a user’s feed.

Did you see the Moleskine Grid example above? The continuous pattern between the posts connects them, however, the posts “look right” individually on the Grid and as individual posts in a user’s feed.

Things to consider:

  • Puzzle Grids look stunning on an Instagram Grid, however, try to avoid Puzzle Grid layouts where individual posts don’t make sense when viewed on their own.

  • Avoid having all posts be a part of a Puzzle Grid unless you’re convinced that it’s the best thing for your brand.

  • Puzzle Grids require carefully timed posting in order for the puzzle to appear correctly on your Instagram Grid.

  • Creating a Puzzle Grid isn’t as a hard as it looks. You can use a tool like Canva or Puzzle Grid Templates to create your graphics, and schedule them in a social media scheduling tool like HeyOrca. If you’re using HeyOrca, you can even see how scheduled Instagram posts will appear in your Instagram Grid Preview tool.

Want to Save Time Managing Social Media Posts, Client Approvals, and Reports?

HeyOrca lets you effortlessly schedule social media posts, collaborate with clients, get client approvals, and report on your results… all from one place.

(no credit card required)

Tips for Managing your Instagram Grid Layout

So you have an Instagram Grid Layout in place. Or a combination of Grid systems. You’ve been using it for a few months, maybe a year, and it’s going well so far. This doesn’t mean your job is over.

As a social media manager, you must be prepared for change. 

Instagram – as a company and an app – is always on the cutting edge. They create and forecast aesthetic and technology trends, making sure that they’re keeping their users happy and engaged.

This means that Instagram marketers need to be on their toes, ready to adapt to whatever new feature or algorithm change that Instagram decides to introduce. At some point in time, Instagram may eventually change its Grid view page, or it may put into production a new algorithm that prefers one Grid layout over another.

Similarly, a Grid that worked for you before may stop performing as well, according to your social media reports. Avoid sticking with an Instagram Grid layout if the numbers tell you otherwise.

What this means for you, is that whatever Grid system you opt for has to be adaptable to change.

Wrapping Up

Instagram is a visual, creative medium, and those qualities extend to its Grids as well.

When building your Instagram Grid strategy, don’t hesitate to look beyond the list of examples included here.

Challenge yourself to “think outside the Grid” by experimenting with HeyOrca’s Instagram Grid Preview Tool. Consider combining different features from the different Grid layouts mentioned throughout this guide or seek inspiration from other brands you follow on IG.

But whatever you do, stay flexible to change!

Have any questions about our Instagram Grid Layout guide? Want to share examples that have worked well for you? Email datis@heyora.com


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