The vast majority of what I use Pinterest for is recipes. To be clear: I am NOT someone who makes “Pinterest perfect” family meals or incredibly complex themed cakes for birthdays or cute favors at parties or whatever. I prefer a good, home-cooked meal to eating out or eating pre-made processed junk, and so I cook. It doesn’t look “Pinterest-worthy” most of the time, but as long as it tastes good, I’m good with that.
Since I use Pinterest for recipe-finding and saving, I’m going to walk through the patterns that Pinterest uses when I complete that task. My task flow is something like this:
Pinterest uses a pretty standard search pattern, with the search bar across the top of the page. The homepage is full of pins that are related to things I’ve pinned previously, which often accomplishes exactly what it’s supposed to: I spend some time just browsing through the stuff on the homepage before getting on to doing whatever I had originally intended on doing.
There are plenty of times I pin things from my homepage that look interesting to me, but if I’m looking for a specific recipe (let’s say I want to make shrimp, but I don’t cook shrimp often, so I want to try a new recipe), I’ll type something in the search bar. In this case, I’ll type in “shrimp recipe.”
Pinterest uses a drop down of search suggestions as you type, so not only do they provide popular searches that you can choose from (I might be liable to choose the “shrimp recipes easy” suggestion), they also provide links to boards that people have made of shrimp recipes. I could even follow one of those boards if I like what I see and want someone else to do the work of searching out recipes for me. While the search would still be very effective without the drop down suggestion pattern, Pinterest’s use of this feature is actually very helpful. For now, however, I’ll just search “shrimp recipes.”
Pinterest provides filtering options at the top of the search results. The pattern they use is simlar to that of Air Bnb; instead of filtering results using a side bar, you filter at the top of the page. You don’t have to scroll to see all of your filtering options (like you usually do with a sidebar), and the whole header (including the filters) stays in place at the top of the page as you scroll, so you can change your filters at any time without scrolling back to the top. It’s convenient, and I like it.
The layout of the search results are a little different than the grid pattern used most often in search results where photos are used to portray the product. Here we have columns, but the search result graphics vary in height, so as you scroll down, they are offset form one another. I’m not sure that it’s better in any way than using a grid, except that it allows for more screen real estate for the actual pins (so if something doesn’t naturally fit in a square, it doesn't have to). It puts content first, or at least allows for variations in content, in a way that many grid structures do not.
Once I’ve reached this point, I find something I like, and pin it to my recipes board. The structure of the board itself is the same as the search results, using the columned, not-quite-a-grid pattern. My only real complaint has more to do with myself than Pinterest: it’s hard for me to find things on my recipes board because I’ve pinned too many things to it! I need to take the time to make a few more boards and separate my recipes into categories.