Pinterest, the rising star of social networking, is taking the world by storm with its image-centric, grid-style layout. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Pinterest and its 3 million followers have a lot to say. But, instead of focusing on words and chatter, the site allows members to tell their stories visually.
Members can gather images from anywhere on the web and chose to “pin” them on their page, and if they see something on another user’s Pinterest page which they like, they can choose to “repin” it onto their own page. Eventually, the gathered images form a sort of collage or pin board representing the users’ interests, and although they can include a description or commentary below any photo, the images themselves remain the primary focus of the page – not the words.
These blocks of pictures are proving to be a great way to share information, and other companies are taking notice. In response to Pinterest’s success, Quora, Chill.com, Scrolldit, and a number of other sites are adopting the grid model. For example, Quora recently added topic “boards” in the tell-tale block format and Chill.com’s newly reorganized video “bricks” are very reminiscent of Pinterest. Of course, these companies are not copying the idea outright (although, there are some definite copycat sites), but merely using Pinterest’s design elements for their own purposes.
Despite bringing it into the mainstream, Pinterest didn’t invent the block-by-block structure. Many credit the design back to David DeSandro who created the jQuery Masonry plugin which uses the same basic layout. Still, the grid format has become so popular that many smaller businesses are asking their web designers for this organizational system on their own sites.
Part of the appeal of the layout is how information is displayed in a non-linear fashion. This offers a different look from most everything else on the web (at least for now), and for some sites this type of presentation just makes more sense. After all, who says you have to view information chronologically or from top to bottom? This design may not be effective at displaying more linguistically based content, but it works well with images since it provides visitors with an overall impression and the ability to quickly scan the page.
It seems the interest in Pinterest is here to stay. Users appreciate the fact that they are not burdened with having to make comments, or “feed the beast” on a daily basis. They can casually pin things they see online or simply explore other people’s pages for some quick eye candy. It functions more like window shopping or flipping through a magazine and feels less like an obligation as compared to other social sites. Pinterest obviously has a recipe for success, and as it continues to grow in popularity, it’s likely you will see even more sites using the same layout in their design.