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soooo which one did you pick? 👀 if you’re curious, here is a little behind the scenes story time about how this all went down! (thread)👇
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a few things happened last year that, when put together in my brain, kicked this whole thing off: 1️⃣ early in 2019 i made a fun “retro tech” IG effect, desktop96, that ended up being very popular seems like people like that kind of stuff? *takes notes* https://www.instagram.com/ar/413002039441944/
2️⃣ i noticed some apps were starting to take advantage of the iOS API for alternate app icons this part of iOS always felt very underrated to me, and seemed like it would be a lot of fun to try and find a way to integrate it into IG
3️⃣ later on in the beginning of summer, i had a realization that next year would be IG’s 10th birthday! this felt like a rare occasion that could be a great window of opportunity to try and pitch some wild stuff
so eventually these things all clicked together for me, and i started to try and assemble a little informal group of designers and engineers who were also interested in exploring some birthday fun and then... we all promptly forgot about it 🙃
(turns out it is actually really hard to pull off stuff like this when everyone is already busy with their own projects and problems!)
no worries though 😅, we had over a year until the big day! plenty of time to figure it out except (big surprise) it continued to be a pretty busy time for us throughout the year...
fast forward to march 2020 (which now feels like 10 years ago tbh) we had just started working from home and i had a little more free time... “birthday idea” was still on my todo list
i started exploring and i came up with a plan to hide a bunch of easter eggs throughout the app and turn it into a big birthday egg hunt i put together a quick prototype of my first 🥚:
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10 easter eggs for our 10th birthday! fun in theory, but wayyyy too complex and way too big of a project to attempt when we have plenty of more important stuff to be working on it would’ve taken months to execute well, not to mention trying to figure out 9 more eggs to hide 😅
i shared it around to a few ppl, but no one really loved it (probably because it was really complicated and over-designed 🙃) work picked up speed again and the idea was forgotten once more...
2020 continued to be 2020, the world is a mess, work continued to be busy, and suddenly it is the end of august ...which means it was almost september which means there is only a month left to make something happen! 😬
i still felt there was some potential around app icons (especially bringing back some classics). but with only ~4 weeks to go from idea to reality, i needed to cut as much as possible to have any chance. i started over and simplified the birthday game to this:
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okay, this feels reasonable and looks kinda cool but now how can i actually make this happen? i could: 🅰️ try to go through the proper channels and turn it into a legit project 🅱️ attempt to build some organic momentum by posting it internally somewhere visible
normally 🅰️ is the way to go. we’re very intentional with the changes we make, and we always want to make sure that we’re adding things for the right reason (and coordinating across teams). this is a core part of our design process and having time to think and iterate is key!
🅱️ is risky: it requires sharing your small, fragile idea with a v large group of people that many people seeing your idea in progress can be a scary thing as a designer, and its really easy to turn into “too many cooks” and have your idea squashed before it ever has a chance
unfortunately i am extremely short on time… my new prototype feels pretty solid and these changes are fairly isolated from the rest of the app, so i opt for 🅱️ and shoot my shot in our biggest internal instagram group 😬
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luckily the new prototype was a hit with the rest of IG and my yolo plan was successful in creating the momentum i needed within a few hours(‼️), a volunteer group of folks (engineer/PM/content/comms/brand) assembled and we started to explore how we might pull this off
after a bit of iteration and polish and emails, we got the green light from @vishalshahis and @mosseri a few days later then through an incredible effort from our egg crew we managed to make it in before the birthday build cut!
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we flipped the switch and word started to spread... 24 hours later, we saw people change their app icon over 100M times 🤯
it was truly incredible to see such an overwhelmingly positive response from our community! i'm really glad (and amazed) that we were able to pull this off and bring a little extra delight to your homescreen 🤗the end💟 https://www.instagram.com/p/CGVN--TgRHl/
ps huuuuge thanks to the crew at IG who helped make this happen s/o @khiscott @reyner @tweetzhou @Jose_Tuck @haydenkaii @bdotdub @NickyTaras @therealjfrantz @Devi_SN @srsaliba @adampolselli @sephirothang and everyone else i couldn’t fit!

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