Isn’t it great that nowadays when you come across anything interesting in your life, you can share it with the world in an instant? Blogs, social networks and smartphones have made this so easy that we hardly stop to think about the miracle of being able to show people a picture, a video or a song halfway across the globe in the blink of an eye. Whether you want to show off your collection of shoes, pictures of your family, songs you wrote in college, funny videos you stumbled upon online, your favorite works of art, or even random thoughts you’ve had, there’s an app that lets you share them with the world.
If you’re looking for a minimalistic, visual approach to curating what you find interesting, Pinterest might be for you. It’s a virtual pinboard where you can post images you like, organize them and share them on a social network focused primarily on images. Each pinboard you create can have a theme or purpose, and you can liken it to a lightbox containing images or videos from around the web covering a specific topic. Pinterest also feels like a microblog service stripped down to its bare essentials with a focus on eye candy. Let’s look at how it works.
Pinterest makes it easy to browse pinned items and submit them too. You can choose to sort everyone’s pinned items (called Pins) by category, dig into a particular user’s collections (called Boards) or into any board that catches your eye. The site design and interactions are simple and minimalistic, with a view to keep from distracting you from your browsing experience.
There’s also a social networking aspect to Pinterest: you can follow users to keep up with their pins, repin something you liked into your own related pinboard (similar to reblogging on Tumblr) or even mention a user, i.e. link a user by adding his/her username to your pin (similar to mentions in Twitter). All pins are either picked up from the web using a bookmarklet or uploaded from your computer – in the case of the former you can even indicate the price of a pinned item. This is great if you’re curating a collection of gifts; mention the prices on the site and they’ll show in a separate easy-to-browse section too. You can also share videos just as you would an image using the bookmarklet.
You can sign up for Pinterest for free with the usual details or by Facebook/Twitter. It’s currently invite-only so you’ll need to submit your email address and wait for a day or two. Once you’ve done that, start by creating a board and give it a name – this could be a topic that interests you, about which you know about or are looking to learn. For example, you can create a board of the world’s best pie recipes and start adding the ones you’ve already come across, or look around Pinterest and repin them to complete your collection. You can add as many pins to a board as you want.
To add a pin, you can either upload an image from your computer or use the Pin It bookmarklet on your browser to pin images and video. The bookmarklet is very easy to use – it’s available on the Pin It Button page in the About tab on the top right of the screen. Just drag it to your bookmarks bar and click it while you’re browsing any web page that has an image or video you want to pin. You can then select it, add a description, choose to share it on Twitter and then pin it. While adding a description you can also mention other Pinterest users so they’ll see it when they log in. You can also add a price which will show up as an overlay on your pin by typing $ or £ and a numerical amount (e.g. $50) anywhere in the description.
Get social on Pinterest
Pinterest is not just about your own collections of pins but about finding others with similar tastes and interests. You can browse the boards submitted by everyone using the site, follow boards and the users who created them, repin items you like and comment on pins. If you want to reach out to a user you can mention them in pins. Plus, if you want to collaborate with others on a board you can allow them to contribute to it. The more you engage with others on Pinterest, the more fun the app becomes to use.
Pinterest is great for curating collections of things you love, showing off your creations, creating lists, planning a project and more. Here are a few examples:
- A board of your favorite music albums (check out mine here)
- A wedding gift registry
- Items you’re planning to redecorate your house with (or even paint and pattern swatches)
- Works by artists who inspire you
- Mood boards for developing brand identity and marketing campaigns (target audience, preferred brands, associated activities, etc.)
- Plan a party, wedding or event (pin food ideas, decoration/theme concepts, music for the playlist)
- Organizing a potluck? Save your favorite recipes for an upcoming event or season, or by niche (Thanksgiving recipes, hearty soups for for winter, or the best recipes featuring local organic veggies)
- Pooling with friends to buy someone a birthday present? Pin gift ideas, let others contribute and comment and help choose the best one. Instant democracy!
- Have a quick yard sale online – take pictures of your stuff, add prices and descriptions of what condition they’re in, share the board with friends and get rich quick!
If you’ve used a lot of web apps before, you might read this and find yourself thinking about what features could be added to Pinterest, such as the ability to add multiple pins at once (especially if you’re uploading images from your computer), themes for boards and profiles and private pins and boards. However, using Pinterest as it is feels complete and coherent. Just like Twitter, once you get used to the way it works you’ll enjoy the minimalistic interaction experience and all will be well with the world.
Pinterest offers a great way to curate collections of things you love and the clean interface makes it a joy to use. What pins would you put on your board? Head over to Pinterest and get inspired to try it out for yourself!