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Build a fully responsive Instagram gallery in 5 steps.
Use Zapier to connect your Instagram feed to a fully responsive, custom layout with CSS grid.
In this lesson:
- Create a Collection (a simple database in Webflow)
- Create a Zap (to connect Instagram to your Collection)
- Design the Collection list
- Customize the look and feel
Good to know: This grid will add new Instagram posts to your layout, but it won’t grab all existing photos.
Create a simple Collection (a simple database in Webflow)
In the left toolbar, choose CMS Collections and click the blue button to add your Collection (create the database).
Go ahead and name your collection, e.g., 'Instagram feed.'
- Click Add new field next to Collection fields
- Choose Image when prompted to Select field type
- Name the Label (e.g., “Images”)
- Click Save
- Click Create Collection back at the top
Okay, that's step one. Next: Zapier.
Create a Zap (to connect Instagram to your Collection)
Zapier has a basic format: when this happens … do this. A trigger event and a result.
When new images are posted to your Instagram account, you want this Zap (this whole process) to activate. Let’s make that happen!
In your Zapier account, for the first step, When this happens ..:
- Select Instagram under Choose App & Event
- Select New Media Posted in My Account from the dropdown for Choose Trigger Event
- Click Continue and enter your Instagram account information
Once you connect your account, you can Test and Continue.
And now for the second step (the result), Do this …, you’ll connect the first step to Webflow:
- Select Webflow under Choose App & Event
- Select Create Live Item from the dropdown under Choose Action Event
- Click Continue
- Choose your Webflow account under Choose Account
- Click Continue
- Choose Photostories for your Site under Customize Item
- Choose Instagram feeds under Collection to link it to the database we created earlier
- Choose Standard Resolution URL under Images to bring in new images posted to Instagram
- Set the Name to grab the caption text
- Set both Archived and Draft to No (for now)
- Click Continue
Now click Test and continue again and you’re ready to activate your Zap.
In the top right, verify your Zap is switched to ON.
In the next step, you’ll design your Collection list.
Design the Collection list
Before you launch into this step, you may want to post a new image or two to your Instagram account to trigger Instagram to pass new photos to your grid.
In this step, you’ll build your Collection list. A Collection list is a list of items from your Collection — the database you created earlier.
In the Webflow Designer, click the plus sign in the left toolbar and under CMS, drag a Collection list onto your canvas where you’d like it to sit.
In the Collection list setting popup, choose Instagram feeds as the Source. This immediately populates your Collection list wrapper with an entry for every new image you uploaded to Instagram at the beginning of this step.
Note: Images can take time to show up. Refresh your project in Webflow if you don’t see updates right away.
At this stage, there’s no images or layout for your Collection list wrapper. There are 2 different ways to fix this:
- Add an Image element into your Collection list wrapper
- Create a grid layout for your images that open into a lightbox
Let's start with the quickest way. Unicorn dolphin.
Add an image to your Collection List
- Click the Add Elements icon (the plus sign) in the left sidebar
- Scroll down in the Add panel to the Media section
- Drag in an Image element into any of the items in our collection
- Check the box labeled “Get Images from <collection></collection>”
- Open the dropdown and choose the collection field you want to get content from
Create a grid layout for your images that open in a lightbox
The other option is to create a grid layout and add a lightbox element for the gallery.
To create a grid layout:
- Choose your Collection list from the Navigator on the left
- Change the display setting in the Style panel to Grid.
- Edit your grid to fit your project.
Learn more about Grid layouts in Webflow.
Okay. That's our grid layout. Now, our layout looks great as is, but let’s make it so that when you click the image, it shows up in a lightbox.
To add an image lightbox:
Here’s where you can style your grid to give it a custom look with a frame for your pictures.
You can do this in 2 steps:
- Create a frame
- Style the frame
Create a frame
- Select the Frame Div block element on the canvas
- In the Style settings of your Div block, scroll down to add a solid border on all sides and set a border width.
- Hold Shift and drag to add space inside your frame with padding (the space inside an element)
- Set your Display setting on the frame to flex
- Use flexbox to align and justify the image inside the frame to center (flexbox lets you set the parent element layout properties that control its child elements. Learn more about centering elements with Flexbox in Webflow)
Now you can add realism to your framed photos with a shadow: With your frame still selected, scroll down in the Style Settings to Effects, and click the + icon next to Box shadows.
Learn more about box shadows in Webflow.
Don't forget to publish your project — click the Publish dropdown and Publish to selected domains.
Tweak your grid to best fit each breakpoint. Learn more about how to turn a collection list into a responsive grid in Webflow. When you click into any of the images on the live site — you should see the full gallery! You can switch between each of your Instagram photos and new posts will be added automatically.
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There are a few different ways you can create a collage grid for Instagram. First, though, what is a collage grid, and why might you want to make one?
A collage grid is simply a creative way to merge more than one image into a single post on Instagram. This is one example, albeit a simple one. It’s four images that would make up a cohesive outfit centered around a color. Here’s another example, of six pictures framed in two columns of three each.
Both of the examples above are simple, but with the Instagram layouts feature, you can set up various different, more creative grids. You can, for example, stack three images on top of one another with different proportions. Here’s an example.
The way I see it, there are three different ways to make collages on Instagram, though one of them is not strictly a typical collage.
Method 1: Layouts by Instagram
The first method is to use an app that links into Instagram – and your photo library – to create collages and upload them. In the past, you would have to find and use a third party app. However, a couple of years ago, Instagram released their own app to perform the functionality they wanted for their primary app. It’s called Layout.
There are two ways you can access Layout. The first is to go through the Instagram app itself. The second is to download the app directly via the app store of your choice.
I’ll cover how to get the app through Instagram momentarily. For now, let’s follow the whole process of creating and posting a collage from start to finish.
Step 1: Make sure any images you want to use are accessible on your device. This means they have to actually be on the device; Layout doesn’t seem to be able to access cloud storage, like Google Drive or Dropbox.
It’s fairly typical to want to edit your images on a computer before you then go to post them on Instagram. If you have done so, and added your images to your cloud storage, make sure you download them onto your local device to make your post.
Step 2: Load up Instagram. Download it if you have to, and make sure you’re logged in on the account you want to use to post your collage. It makes no sense to make a collage and then go to post it, only to find you’re posting with the wrong account. Personally, I don’t know for sure if it breaks anything when you try to switch accounts, or if it just saves the collage as a new image. Either way, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re on the right account before you go to post anything.
Step 3: Tap the new post icon, which will either be a photo silhouette or a plus icon in the center of the bottom navigation bar. It’s one of those minor differences between iOS and Android that don’t really make sense, but hey, what can you do?
Step 4: Tap to load up your existing photo gallery. On iOS this will be the “library” button, while on Android it will be the “gallery” button. You might need to give Instagram permission to access your photos if you haven’t done so in a while, or ever.
Step 5: Tap the Layout button. It will generally be a small icon hovering above your gallery to the right, and it looks like a rounded square with a sideways T in it. Something like this.
Step 6: Tap to get Layout, if you don’t already have it. This will redirect you to the app store used by your device so you can download the app. It’s free, so just download it. It’s also very small, so it won’t take long to download and install.
Step 7: Swipe past the tutorial. It’s a very simple app, and I’ll teach you how to use it as well.
Step 8: Scroll through your gallery and find images you want to use as part of your collage. Tap them to add them to the collage preview up above. You can choose up to a total of nine images. That’s fine; if you want to add more than nine to a collage, you probably don’t want to be limited to the predefined layouts and would rather do all this using method 2 anyways.
Step 9: Swipe through the layout preview until you find one you like, that works with the images you’re using. The more images you have selected, the more different layouts you can pick through.
Step 10: Adjust the borders of the images to resize them, move them from place to place, mirror them, flip them, or otherwise adjust the whole collage until it works the way you want it to. You can adjust the images to display in whatever way you want them to, to create an image that is evocative and gets your point across. If this means mirroring certain elements, go for it. You can also toggle the actual borders on and off, if you want lines between the images or not.
Step 11: Save the collage and go to back to make a post. The collage will appear as an image you can add a filter to, though whether you do that before or after creating the post depends on your device. You can then add a geographic location, a caption, hashtags, tags for people, and you can post the image on Instagram, share it on Facebook, post it on Twitter, or post it on Tumblr.
In some cases – primarily on iOS – you will need to exit Layout and go back to Instagram. On Android, it seems like a smooth transition.
So that’s method 1. What about the second option?
Method 2: PC Editing
The second method is the one you see a lot more when you go to Instagram and look at the #collage tag. Some of the collages you see there are made with Layout, and some of them are more item collages taken in a single photograph, but others are the more traditional collage, images composited together in some way or another.
With this style of collage, you have way more flexibility. Here are some examples:
- This guy’s photo collage includes sixteen images, which is more than you can do just using the Instagram Layout app. You might be able to make larger collages with other third party apps, but I haven’t explored all of the various options you could use.
- This collage has wide white borders on the edges that, if you were to try to make it using Layout you would need white images to add to the sides as well.
- This collage is the same thing but with a lot more complexity. Individual elements are edited in place with more precision, definitely not something that can be done with a simple app. Maybe there’s a collage-focused app that allows it, but you can’t do it with a collage grid like Layout.
Now, the trick with all of these is that you need to have access to some kind of image editing program. GIMP, Photoshop, Paint.net, and others can all fit the bill, but you need something more advanced than Windows Paint or a basic app editor.
Contrary to some people’s belief, you don’t need a Mac to do graphic design these days. It might have been more valuable than a PC a couple decades ago, but these days there’s so little difference between the two platforms that it’s not really important.
Coming Soon Grid Instagram Stories
Step 1, then, is to decide on the type of collage you want to make. Do you want to make something simple, something complex, or something creative? Don’t get in over your head. The strawberry example up above, for example, is great, but it’s something created by an actual artist, not a marketer looking to be outside the box.
Step 2 is to gather up your materials, the images you need, in sufficiently high quality. Having the right raw materials makes it easier to have the right finished product. Don’t start with fuzzy, low-resolution images or phone photos; get someone who actually has photography skills with a good camera to take the pictures.
Step 3 is to decide whether you can put something together yourself or if you need to hire a professional designer or artist to do it for you. If all you’re doing is stitching together a couple of images, you might be able to do it yourself, though you need to remember to work with layers, be able to undo your mistakes, and otherwise work appropriately with graphics. I’m not a graphic designer myself, so I can’t give you advanced tips and tricks on that subject. Thankfully, there are a lot of tutorials available.
If you’re going to hire someone, go through a vetting process first. Look through their portfolio to see what kinds of work they have produced in the past. You might even look for someone on Instagram who has made the kind of content you want made for your page. Why not hire them? If you know they can produce what you want, you can pay them to produce more of it just for you. Plus, this way you can share with their audience and gain the extra promotion they bring to the table.
Make sure that if you’re going to hire someone, you’re actually willing to pay them what their rates are. Don’t whine about the price, don’t claim you could do better, don’t belittle their skills, and generally avoid doing anything that will get you quoted on ForExposure.
From there, it’s just a matter of working with your artist – or your free time – to make the image you want to make. Then, just like any other image you might want to upload to Instagram, you need to format it properly for the site. Make it the right kind of square and upload it to your phone. Access the app, make the post, add your caption and tags, and let it fly.
Method 3: The Profile Collage
Coming Soon Grid Instagram
This one isn’t really a collage, but it’s an interesting technique so I thought I’d bring it up. You can make a sort of “soft collage” on your Instagram profile page, by using the natural three-wide grid of images that display on a profile.
Essentially, you just upload your images three at a time, for the display on your profile. It works best if you have some kind of consistency between the images, though; if they’re disconnected, they aren’t a collage, they’re just pictures on your profile.
Confused about what I mean? This guy is a good example. He posts images in sets of threes, chopped up squares of a panorama. Each scene is vibrant, unique, and compelling to look at. As added value, Andrew writes one caption for the three images and splits it up between them. It encourages you to view each image in full and click through to the next to see the full description.
Coming Soon Grid On Instagram
There are two downsides to this. The first is that you don’t get the description right there; the user has to tap on the image to expand it. The second is that if you ever post images in numbers less than a multiple of three, it shifts everything out of order. People viewing your feed will then see every picture out of sync, and the entire panorama effect is ruined.
Still, it’s a technique that’s worth looking at, simply because it’s a creative way to use the app. It doesn’t even require any special tools, other than the ability to take panoramic images and split them up.