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How To Design Instagram Carousel Posts Using Photoshop And Illustrator

Instagram Carousels were launched in 2017, which basically allows us to use multiple images or videos (up to 10) in one single post.

Instagram introduced this feature to remove the burden of choosing one best single photo from your last vacation to upload.

But more than that this feature is being used by creators to create a personal brand on Instagram by sharing some valuable content.

Yes, creators are using this feature more. But that doesn’t mean brands aren’t using it. See this post by Pepsi:

Before diving deep into the recipe for creating a stunning Instagram carousel that can boost your personal brand, let’s talk about the “who” and “why” of carousels.

Who Should Post Carousels?

You should! No matter what kind of content you create or what kind of business you run, you should leverage carousels if you want to generate a better ROI from Instagram.

Carousels work well for educating content, and I bet creating content that educates your audience is part of your content marketing strategy.

But carousels aren’t just limited to educating content. You can tell a story with a carousel (see Pepsi post above), before-after photos, customer testimonials, Product unboxing, service benefits, etc. Hubspot has published an amazing article on 10 ways to use Instagram carousels. Read here.

So the ideas for carousels are many. But it’s your willingness to execute those ideas matter.

But why use carousels? Will that have an advantage to my current growth on Instagram?

Why you should post carousels

Here are some key findings from the research done by Socialinsider of over 22 million Instagram posts.

  1. The engagement rate per post goes over 2% when all 10 carousel slides are used.
  2. A combination of images and videos in the same carousel is found to generate the highest engagement rate per post (2.33%).
  3. Even carousels with only videos are found to produce a slightly higher engagement rate than images alone (1.86% vs 1.80%).
  4. 19.44% of Instagram posts are carousels.

Two things you should take note of is that Instagram carousels (with 10 slides) can generate better engagement than a single image post. Mixing images with videos in carousels can be an extra advantage.

How To Create An Instagram Carousel

Here are the main things that we are gonna disucsss in this section:

  • The visual aesthetics that work well.
  • How to format a carousel
  • How to design a carousel using Photoshop and Illustrator

1. Visual Aesthetics

Visual aesthetics matter, but not as much as the content. If the content sucks, visuals can’t help either. And at the same time, there is no guarantee that someone is gonna read your content if the visual sucks.

Size

For carousels, you can go with Portrait (1080 x 1350 pixels) or Square (1080 x 1080 pixels), or even Landscape (1080 x 566 pixels).

If you are going with a portrait make sure that you put the main content (text especially) in the square area (1080*1080 pixels). The text/any content above or below the 1080*1080* won’t be seen when someone views the content via the explore/hashtag page. The same restrictions apply to the Landscape format.

Using the portrait has an advantage. It occupies more space on the screen grabbing attention and the user is less likely to scroll down immediately.

Colors

ALWAYS go with brand colors. It doesn’t matter if you are someone looking to brand yourself (personal brand). If you don’t have any choose colors and stick with them for all the designs.

Recommneded: How to Make Your Own Instagram Color Palette

Some popular color combinations for carousels:

  • Yellow – Black – White
  • Skyblue – White – Yellow
  • Light Brown – White
  • Orange – Black – White

Fonts

Using bold and condensed fonts for headings (to make a strong impression and condensed – because it occupies less space) and using small and clean fonts (making it easy to read) for sentences (non-headings) should be the main benchmark in choosing the fonts.

For example, I use Aku & Kuma because it looks condensed and I use circular std for the body content because it looks clean.

Image Background

For your background, you don’t necessarily need to use only colors. You can even use images like this:

But make sure you apply the right color filters to images to maintain visual consistency. Don’t use Instagram filters. Use software or online editing tools to improve images.

2. Formatting a Carousel

The success of Instagram carousels lies in more people swiping your content and spending time. If you make more people spend on Instagram, then the platform is gonna reward you with more reach.

How to make this happen?

An effective headline with a good visual and body content (that can educate or entertain them) with a closing slide (CTA) that can help your brand grow.

Headline

You need to write the headline in such a way that when people read that, they can’t help but swipe it and read the whole content. Writing headlines that people can’t ignore is the top way to grow on Instagram with carousels.

If they do, they might even drop a like or comment. And as we know, the greater the engagement (likes, comments, shares, saves), the greater the reach.

But how to write an effective headline? A headline the makes people swipe it. Here are 5 ways that you can write a headline that is almost impossible to ignore.

  1. Use Numbers: “3 Things You Should Know About Gardening”, works extremely well that “Things You Should…”. And try adding odd numbers in headlines.
  2. Use trigger words (how, what, why, etc..) and adjectives (free, best, essential, etc.). Ex: “What are the best timings to post on social media?”, “The 5 free tools you need to use to grow your business”.
  3. Be Ultra Specific: Don’t just write – “Generate more sales”. Instead write, “Generate 50% more sales with these 3 tricks“.
  4. Convey Urgency: “5 Strategies that should implement right now for your business”. Right now – might make them click.

Just remember that clickbait titles are good to use and work pretty well only if your content matches the expectations of your audience after reading the title. Try not to piss them off.

Main Visuals/Carousel cover

Putting a visual in the first slide is a good practice (I think it’s a must). Using some dramatic images or PNGs or icons can help in enhancing the text content. But make sure that the visual you put somehow is related to the content. See the carousel post below:

Note: Make your slide 2 as good as Slide 1. Why? Instagram shows your carousel twice to your followers. The followers who have seen but haven’t swiped will see slide 2 in the next 24 hours.

Content Formating

Write the complete content that you want to convey to your audience. I use Trello for this purpose. Once you’ve created a draft, write out the actual text. And then assign a part of the text to each slide. This is a necessary step that you should follow before starting to design. This makes the design process easy.

Alignment:

Alignment is a very important thing in a carousel design. The design will look consistent if you align all the content to a similar side (left or right or center).

Branding

Put your name, logo, company, etc. whatever the details that you think are necessary.

CTA

A call to action (CTA) is something that you ask your audience to do after providing them the value(with your 9 slides) which is why you need to put a CTA in the last slide of the carousel.

But what to ask? There are many things you can ask: Subscribe to the newsletter, Sign up, Learn more (link in bio), etc. but what’s more important is the CTA is relevant to the content and it should be simple.

3. Designing Instagram Carousel

I use Adobe Illustrator to design all my carousels (I mostly use vectors) and only use photoshop to edit the images (if I am using any). If you are someone who wants to put a lot of image content in your carousel designs then go with Adobe Photoshop.

I’m gonna explain you how to create carousels using both the softwares.

Creating a carousel in Adobe Illustrator

Step 1: Of course, the obvious step. Open Illustrator and click on “Create new”.

Step 2: Choose the size of each slide: 1080*1080 (my favourite) or 1080*1350. And input the number of Artboards (number of slides).

Step 3: Click on more settings (see above image). A new window pops up (see below image). Go with spacing = 0, Columns = Number of artboards (10).

Step 4: Hit CTRL/CMD + R to see guides on the left side and drag as many guides as you need. Use them to align design elements perfectly.

Step 5: Once the design is done, go to File – Export and click on “Export for Screens”.

Step 6: Chopose the image settings (JPEG, PNG) and you select on
“All” to export all the slides (artbaords).

Done!

Creating a carousel in Adobe Photoshop

Step 1: Choose
W = 1080 *10 (number of slides) Pixels,
H = 1080 (or 1350) Pixels, and
Resolution = 300 Pixels/Inch.

Step 2: A new document (white color) will be created. Now go to View menu and click on “New Guide Layout”.

Step 3: A new window pops up. Set columns = 0, Rows = 1 and click on Ok.

Step 4: Right click on the crop tool and select slice tool from the menu.

Step 5: Click on “Select from Guides”. Easy step, right?

Step 6: Now you can place the design elemetns and after the whole design is done, go to File – Export and click on “Save for web(legacy)”.

Step 7: Choose the file format and click on save. Done!

Best Practices (Mistakes To Avoid)

  • Use similar design types (colors, fonts) in all the carousels to maintain visual consistency.
  • Less Is More! Try to use less text in each slide.
  • Don’t use too many fonts. I think 2 fonts should be maximum although you can vary the font weights.
  • Don’t cram too much content in a single slide. Distribute the content effectively.
  • Overuse of stock images is a bad practice. Find images that are more interesting, dramatic, etc.

Conclusion

Make use of this carousel feature to grow your brand on Instagram. Just remember that both design and content matter! If you are looking for some free carousel templates then click here!

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