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Web Design Lessons from Pinterest – One of the Fastest Growing Social Media Sites

In an interview with Lauren Drell, Evan Sharp, Pinterest’s designer and co-founder makes an interesting statement. He says that his team worked hard and went through fifty revisions to finally settle on the pin-board type of design. While he had worked for Facebook and had been a part of diverse design initiatives, he said that the inspiration for the design inspirations from Pinterest came from physical places likes groceries, libraries and museums.
Today, Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media sites. The success of Pinterest owes a lot to its simple and easily accessible design that allows users to build an online catalogue of images and things they like. As a designer, there are a lots of simple design lessons you can learn from the success of Pinterest. Here are a few design fundamentals Pinterest has taught me. I am certain that they will also prove helpful to you too.

pinterest lessons

Inspiring Navigational Structure

Usability is not enough – we need navigation that inspires users to explore

As a social media site whose popularity depends on how well and how much users can interact with each other, Pinterest needed to build a navigational structure that would make it easy for the users to follow links and visit pin boards that may interest them. Pinterest does that and a little more. It has an inspiring navigation structure that entices users to visits a number of different pages. The best part is that users can come back to the starting point through a single click – so they never get lost.

Personally, I feel that Pinterest has taken the idea of ‘intuitive’ one notch higher. Now intuitive and usable navigation structure is not enough. As designers, we need to understand how a particular site works and build navigational structures that simplify things for users and at the same time help the website fulfill its primary purpose.

Dynamic Grid & Standardization

It’s okay to break the grid if it gives birth to elegance

When you are creating a photo-sharing application or a image-centric web portal, there is a tendency to allow a lot of freedom to the users. Pinterest does just that – it allows the users to view each other’s pages and interact with each other without any boundaries. But when it comes to design, Pinterest doesn’t let anyone mess around. Its dynamic grid standardizes sizes for portrait as well as landscape images. As a result, all Pinterest pages feel like they have been elegantly crafted.

For any website that hosts user generated content, this is an important lesson to learn. Give as much freedom to the users as possible, but when it comes to the core design of the website, enforce your design standards.

Design that Encourages Social Sharing

Your design must make social sharing easy and rewarding

For most websites, web portals or blogs, social sharing is an important part of the design. But, only a few web designs actually persuade visitors to share a particular image, page or video on social media sites. The most common social features are the buttons of different social media sites at the bottom of the page, or ones at the left margins of a web page. Not only does Pinterest integrate Twitter and Facebook perfectly, but its design also encourages the users to pin anything from the Internet to their pages using the “Pin it” feature.

If you can come up with such a proactive element while designing a website, you can increase audience engagement manifold. Pinterest, although originally designed for architects and designers, quickly became popular among businesses and marketers too. That is the power a design that inspires social sharing.

To sum it up…

The success of Pinterest shows that innovative web design works. You can always learn from Pinterest design features like standardization, dynamic grids, social sharing, inspiration linking, and elegant background with lots of white space. But the real lesson is a little subtler – Don’t imitate. Think out of the box and create a design that offers something new to the users.

Author Bio:- Kent L works for PLAVEB, a leading custom web design company located in Los Angeles. He loves exploring ideas on designing responsive websites. He likes reading autobiographies in his spare time.

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