Thoughts on Pinterest’s user experience

The popular visual inspiration portal needs a mainstream facelift.

I think Pinterest needs to try something radical to ensure its long-term success.

If they want to become the world’s leading ‘discovery’ platform, they need to put that discovery up front. Right now, loyal users know how to manipulate Pinterest to discover the rich (and evolving) content. However I think the discovery should be more user-friendly.

I think Pinterest should add a powerful and engaging editorial layer to their top page. Right now, the sprawl of pin images feels too niche. I don’t think this is making a proper introduction to the Pinterest experience. By just displaying random pins or random pins within selected categories, I think you are putting too much of a burden on users to define their own experience. In theory that sounds good, but it’s such a departure from other more guided web platforms, that I think it’s hurting user growth.

Most people I talk to about Pinterest are Pinterest skeptics. ‘What do I use it for?’ is a common response I get. I usually respond by telling them they can use it for whatever they want. That once you have a purpose for using it, that the platform becomes powerful and inspiring. That is too nebulous of an answer for most. Adding a formalized editorial layer would give an instant idea about how to use the site. Think how Buzzfeed combines headlines and images. While this kind of strategy is often derided as ‘clickbait,’ the user engagement levels are impressive. I think Pinterest would be served well by adding a layer of commentary to their discovery portal.

As a Pinterest user, I get occasional emails about topics I might be interested in. I think this is a step in the right direction. And I would like to see this kind of guidance offered to new users as a way to get their wheels turning. Once you have a vision of how you can use Pinterest, it’s addictive. If you don’t get to that point, you just carry on using the web as you always have. Without making daily stops to Pinterest.