Five Reasons Pinterest Doesn’t Suck

Okay, I’m going to be the first to admit it. There’s quite a few things I don’t like about Pinterest. I’ve written about it elsewhere, but I think I may have given the wrong impression. It’s not that I think Pinterest sucks. On the contrary: I think it’s awesome. I spend an inordinate amount of time browsing pins and, admittedly, it’s made a huge impact on my day to day existence. It just has a ton of room for improvement in some departments (and slowly and surely it’s getting there). Pinterest grew exponentially after its release, bolstered by the BFF status it shares with Facebook, and I think that was a detriment to getting it down perfectly (it’s now surpassed Yahoo, and is the 4th biggest traffic source online). I hear a lot of folks (primarily dudes) who lambast Pinterest for being girly and all pictures. I’ll get into that in a second but seriously, folks, hasn’t the whole “this is girly” thing gotten a little old on the web? Let’s move on. But the fact of the matter is that Pinterest gets a whole lot of things right, and it’s good to give credit where it’s due.

My “Random Fun” Pinterest board. Image by: Natania Barron

So, first things first. Pinterest is pretty. Did I just use that whole “girls like pretty things” argument? Yes, yes I did. Because it’s true. It’s not just that we like shiny things, it’s that we’ve got good taste (or, at least, a large portion of us do since we make up 80% of the user-base). Seriously, so much of the Internet looks like it was designed by lobotomized chimpanzees with absolutely no concern for aesthetics, organization or, heavens forbid, UI. Pinterest clearly got this right from the start. Uniformity. Sleekness. Ease of exploration. It’s made for you to get in there and see everything, more or less, on the same page. Great pictures look wonderful. Awful ones look awful. It puts everything going into it on the same page, both literally and figuratively. And sure, maybe it brings you to a page in comic sans with sparkling angel gifs and a looped midi of “Amazing Grace” that had you reaching for the eye bleach–but the pin looked awesome.

When you move beyond the design it’s all bout the ease of use. The mobile app started out pretty clunky, but in recent iterations I’ve learned to love it. In fact, I do most of my browsing and pinning directly from my phone. I can pin my own photos, and it’s really easy to drill down to the categories that fuel my geeky obsessions. Every new update brings new functionality, and I’ve got to say I really have almost zero use for the web version now that it’s such a pleasant experience on my iPhone.

It’s all about conveniently digestible content. In the last five years content aggregators have been a hot way to digest the internet. The Stumbleupons and Diggs and Reddits get content in front of our eyes. But let’s face it, it isn’t always pretty to look at, and unless something’s really on fire you’re not likely to get wind of it. I’ve got two kids. My job is writing on the web. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is sit in front of more text–and when I do, I don’t have a ton of time to do it. But slap a gorgeous image of something up on Pinterest and my interest is piqued. Not to mention it’s on my phone and not in front of a computer screen. Like Flipboard (my other must-have-or-I-will-lose-my-sanity-app) it puts the web in perspective. It takes chaos and makes it delightful. There’s no price on that.

Social! Social! Yes, I hate this word as much as you do. And sometimes, when three friends are planning a wedding, I really want to destroy my friends board. I mean, it’s cute. But there’s a point where you really just don’t that much closeness to someone’s personal wedding preparations. However, there have been tons of things I’ve discovered through my friends’ boards–many of a wonderfully geeky variety–including clothes, books, projects, and experiments. Definitely a great way to either get to know people you don’t connect with as often on Facebook or, in the case of my friend Brigid Ashwood, delight in how impeccable her taste is (and how similar it is to mine). And, in the case of some things, I’ve recently started a board called “Just No” that, well, profiles some really hideous pages. Also cool? If you’re an author (like me) you can make boards that serve as inspiration for your works in progress.

It gets you off your arse. Sure, there’s fashion and arts and design. But my favorite section is, hands down, the DIY & Craft category of Pinterest. I’ve found tons of stuff around my house and improved it, or cobbled together ingredients to make my own dishwasher detergent, or embarked on a crochet project, because I saw it there. I’m a geek, so with a kid, it makes science a blast. So many intriguing ideas so perfectly presented. In a ten minute session I can get a recipe for home-made clay, soap scum remover, and contemplate an entire new bed set (for cheap!).

So we know what Pinterest is awesome at. The best way for it to get even better (and escape the “Pin now, read later” spam) is to get there, as users, and make it awesome. It’s to lend our hand to the developers and tell them what needs improvement. Better attribution, for one. Less spam, like I said. As geeks, the highest in the Pinterest echelon, it’s our duty to critique and improve rather than just sit around and gripe, don’t you think?

[Pinterest Cake Picture Source: ShardsOfBlue]

7 Responses to Five Reasons Pinterest Doesn’t Suck

  1. I've been dabbling in Pinterest for the last few months. I have no personal interest in the site (Like you said… It's a bit girly for my liking) but it's an amazing traffic generator for your sites, especially if you're in female based niche i.e. weight loss.

    James Scholes

  2. I don't get a lot of the 'girly' content (clothing, fashion, random pictures of men) because of the boards I follow. I stick to geek stuff, art, DIY, and cooking, and those are the pins that show up in my feed. I have learned a lot about gardening and emergency preparedness, repair, cooking, and art techiqjes. Not to mention some kick a$$ recipes! Just be choosy about what boards to follow and you can really tailor Pinterest to work for you instead of being a catch-all for 'chick' stuff.

  3. My top reason why Pinterest doesn't suck–what makes it much better than Facebook–is that you can follow your friends, but unfollow any boards that do not interest you. When your cousin is pinning all the crafty things that she may or may not do for her upcoming wedding, you can unfollow that board, but still see and comment on all her honeymoon location ideas, or whatever else is interesting.
    Or when my friends are posting all the various clothing fashions they wish they could add to their closet, I can unfollow their outfit boards, and still get the great recipes and geeky things that they post.

    • Seconded. It's a *huge* advantage that Pinterest has over everything else.

      Facebook is a central problem of social networks writ large: everything in a stream, regardless of category. if I, say, dislike someone's political expressions, I can opt not to follow the board, but still appreciate their other boards.

      I think that Google Plus was trying to do something _like_ that, but circles haven't turned out to be easy to manage. I don't have to think about it on Pinterest. I just post to the appropriate board. Because of this, I can post *more* because I won't be spamming people that don't give a crap about the particular board I'm posting to.

      – @Lakitu on Pinterest

  4. A few disclaimers up front, 1) I am a girl, 2) I am a geek 3) I LOVE Pinterest. Now on to the rest, what is favorite part of Pinterest…..geek. I can spend hours upon hours looking at Star Wars, Doctor Who, Farscape, Firefly, etc etc. A new pin will lead me down another well to another person to another pin, etc. I do like the DIY stuff, I'm not the typical crafter and have found some great stuff on there to make, and yes, I have done a few things. I also love booze and food, so its great to find some cool cocktails and dinners for the making.

    People I don't know follow me, they don't email me, I don't respond to them. I like that. Its just "me" and I don't feel the urge to be social and chat with people. If I need to do that I head to twitter or FB.

  5. I don't get why you would use this over Tumblr though. Tumblr is way more customizable, can be girly if you want, can be just about anything if you want. To me Pinterest is just Tumblr with less options and a different audience.

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