There seems to be a social network for everything—you have Twitter if you want to promote certain articles or items on the web, you have Facebook if you want to make jokes with your friends, you have LinkedIn if you want to connect with someone on a professional level, and you have StumbleUpon if you just want something interesting to read. Unfortunately, none of these social networks put a focus on design.
Naturally, this led a group of professionals to create a social network called Pinterest in March 2010. As it turns out, many people have been waiting for a social network that puts a focus on design. The site was named one of the top five social media sites for 2011 by Time Magazine, and has reached 11.1 million unique visitors and counting. Its members range from designers, to companies hoping to feature certain products, to people just looking to check out some great visuals. Consider some of the cool features Pinterest offers and why it’s sure to be the turning point for designers and art lovers everywhere:
How Pinterest Works
Pinterest is a network that collects visuals and puts them into one place. There is never a long article about a visual, just simply a comment from whoever is sharing the artwork. This artwork can be a photo of a painting, a funny saying, a cool outfit, or a picturesque scene. Below lists some of the things a users can do with the visuals:
- Create Design Boards – As you browse through the Pinterest network, you have the option of adding pictures you see to your boards. A board is simply a collection of pictures that you have hand chosen. Most users put some sort of theme to their board. For example, I have a board titled “Vintage Style.” When I browse the site and see a cool vintage ring, I add it to my vintage board shown below:
As you can see, I can name my board and create a mini description under the name. Some people create boards for a specific event such as a birthday party or wedding. Below is an example of one of my favorite boards created by someone her for a wedding:
Creating these boards allows users to put together images they like side by side—something no other social network does.
- Browse and Pin Items – As you browse through the site, you have the option to pin pictures you see. This is how pictures end up on your boards. As you scroll through the site, all you have to do is hover your mouse over something you want to add to your board. An option to “pin” will come up, and once you click it you will be able to choose which board you’d like to add the photo. Below is a screenshot of the main page of Pinterest. This is what a user’s homepage would look like and where they would find interesting photos:
- Follow Users or Brands – Just as with other social networks, Pinterest allows users to follow their friends (hence the “social” aspect of the site). However, Pinterest also urges users to follow specific companies and/or categories. If someone sees a designer they really admire, they can have the option of following that designer. If you follow a designer, each time the designer uploads a new picture you will be notified. You also have the option of following certain categories. For example, I am following “women’s fashion.” Every time someone uploads something into that category, it will show up on my homepage.
- Leave Comments – As you’re browsing the gallery of photos, you might want to make a comment. It might not fit into a board you are trying to create, but if you have something to say there is a comment section under each photo. For example, just the other day someone uploaded a picture of his new puppy. Now I don’t have any boards about puppies, but nonetheless I dropped a comment about how much I love English bulldogs.
- Pinterest Profile – You don’t have to stop at just one board. Just as with all social networks, you will have a profile page that will display information such as your name and a bio. Your profile page is where users can see all of the boards you have created and where you can go to stay organized. You can easily delete or create a new board, and you can unpin certain photos if you feel that one doesn’t quite fit your vision. Below is a screenshot of my profile:
As you can see, my profile and boards are still under construction. So far I only have four boards with sixteen photos, so it’s not quite finished!
Why Pinterest Works
Pinterest is a great place for users to express or discover their artistic vision, and an ever better place for designers to showcase their work. Whatever your specialty, Pinterest has a place for your visuals. You can be a stay at home parent who just cooked a beautiful meal or a New York City fashion designer to use this site. As long as you have a great design or a great picture, someone on Pinterest will want to see it. In fact, many of my friends are calling Pinterest their newest addiction.
How to Get Started with Pinterest
Getting started with Pinterest is extremely simply. You still have to be invited, but generally invitations are answered within a few days. You can go here to register for an invitation, or feel free to talk with me in the comments and I’ll be happy to invite you.
Even before you are a member of the network you will be able to look around the site. You won’t be able to do some of the more advanced things that a member can do, but you can look at the photos nonetheless. This will give you an idea about what the site has to offer. I absolutely love this social networking site, and I think anyone interested in design would benefit greatly from this type of platform!