Unless you’ve had your head under a rock or extremely slow to discover new things, you have probably heard of Pinterest. One of the latest entries into the world of social networking, Pinterest is a website that allows users to collect web-based images and assemble them by some common topic (like “fireplaces” or “waffles”). It is an easy to use site that isn’t just geared towards design professionals – everybody is getting on board (get it? board…? like a pin or tack …. never mind).
The beauty of Pinterest is that you can collect the images you find without having to do any real work – just “pin” an image using a “pinmarklet” (something that you add to your web browsers tool bar) and you’re done. You have the ability to sort and notate the images in any manner that makes sense to you, I have mine sorted into categories like:
- and so on … I think you get the idea.
You can have as many boards as you like and the images retain the URL source from where you found them so no longer do you have to download web images or create a special bookmark for a site just because you want to remember a certain product, material, or whatever.
The image above is a screen shot of some of my pins and you can see that I have added notes trying to explain or identify what it is that I pinned for the benefit of others who come across my boards. For the most part – among those that actually use this site with regularity, I have hardly any pins at all. In fact, since I showed it to my wife, she has way more pins that I do … and now my daughter has her own Pinterest boards (but they are full of cute baby animal photos – just what you would expect from a happy 7-year-old girl).
This is a screen shot of a close up look at a single pinned item with its description. You can see that there is an image, a description, and then identifying information like where did the image come from, where is it organized, the images popularity among other “pinners” (people who pin – I don’t know if they have a handle yet, “pinners” seemed like a pretty safe guess). Another very cool thing is that I can see what people have found and pinned from my site – www.lifeofanarchitect.com (as if you didn’t know). Take a look at the bottom right-hand corner of the image above and you can see the last 5 images that people “pinned”.
Another very cool item is that I have a few clients who are now on Pinterest, and when they find an image to help explain what they like, or a material or product they want to use/discuss, I can go visit their Pinterest boards and see it. Gone are the days of the giant box of magazine cutouts that clients used to bring into the office during design meetings. A small down-side to this is now that it’s so easy to find images online to “pin”, that some clients pin like a billion things and the process of distilling what it’s their head down into a more concise vision takes a little longer.
There are some other fringe benefits is you are a design professional … I recently read that in January 2012, Pinterest drove greater traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Youtube combined. For most of the people walking around out there, who cares about driving traffic anywhere (and I can’t blame you) but for you architects, interior designers and other design professionals, this is a great way for people to see more than just one image from your site and you are helping people out by assembling relevant and interesting information in a single spot for them to see. For example, I have started a board titled “Hardware” and on it is my favorite (and most often specified) door hardware for passage, lockset, sliding … even pocket doors. I could keep this information to myself but this sort of data is not what makes me a good architect, I am happy to share what I have learned with people.
Pinterest has only been around since mid 2010 but reportedly had 11.7 million unique users in January of 2012 – making it the fastest site in history to break the 10 million user mark. That is an amazing feat.
There are some downsides to Pinterest, some more readily apparent to the hard-core users but the only one that I can come up with at this point (and with my level of usage) is that everything I pin is available for anyone to see. I know what your thinking … porn – and you would be wrong (family man here). I would like to be able to put together boards for specific projects and only allow particular users to see them – like the client for which the boards were intended. I have no doubt that it’s a feature that will show up before too long.
So go check it out – you will have to “apply” for entrance but it’s a simple process and I don’t know anyone who was ever rejected. If you are already on Pinterest and have some insights to share, I would love to hear them. And while you’re at it …
Everyone should go and read this article written by photographer AND Lawyer Alyson Shontell for the Business Insider. It talks about the copyright exposure issues users of Pinterest could experience if they aren’t careful.