Pinterest: useless tool or source of inspiration?

Categories Web Design

There is no doubt, that using Pinterest is trendy. As you can see in the service statistics, there are about 10.4 million registered users along with site development at a rate of 2000%. But is there any chance that Pinterest become useful and inspiring tool? Let me share some of my thoughts from the perspective of the UX industry.

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Pinterest, due to the generated traffic, is the third-largest social networking website in the United States. According to the statistics, it has a greater influence on purchase decisions than Facebook or Twitter. Although the content published on this website is primarily materials associated with fashion, food and shopping, there appear more and more channels dedicated to web design and applications. The following screen shows part of the boards that appear when you type in the search engine “mobile UX design” phrase (as at March 7, 2013).

Pinterest search engine results page for the phrase „mobile ux design”

As you can see, the list is quite impressive. Hence, you can assume that Pinterest could be a source of patterns and the latest trends, which are very important things in the work of the designer. In order to not duplicating texts on this topic, I just refer you to the relevant article.

Is Pinterest a good source of patterns?

The biggest advantage of Pinterest is huge area of stored content. The service share loads of profiles and channels where we can find design ideas. However, poor  content management is in my opinion the biggest drawback of this social network. The only tool that helps us to reach images we want is the search engine. Pinterest has no mechanism for filtering or sorting elements, for example, by date added. So we can either rely on the valuable results of search engine, or break through countless pins that unfortunately make a big mess. It is much more convenient to use the dedicated pages, which are catalogs of patterns. Typically, they include features to help you quickly find relevant categories, such as a choice of platforms concerning specific patterns, like on the

In the catalog of patterns Pattern Tab you can filter images by the type of platform that is designed for

Unsupported tables are another pain in the neck of Pinterest. In many catalogs with encouraging names like “mobile patterns” we can find just a few items. Thus, finding a user who is worthy of our attention may require a lot of effort. Personally, I recommend the user Timoa. He solved the problem of filtering by the creation of 73 tables, each of which related to a separate category. As a result, the content of tables is consistent and there is no feeling of browsing random pictures.

By dividing the mobile design themes on many tables, we can quickly review the items in categories we are interested in

In addition, 80% of all content on this website are repins, images downloaded from someone else’s board and uploaded on their own. As a result, we repeatedly find the same images during looking for the interesting content.

As far as I am concerned, I do not use Pinterest as a working tool because pictures are very rarely described in a comprehensive way. Most often it is only a web address or name of the application, without source of specific image. What is more, there is no explanations of the use of the pattern, which can be found e.g. on the, or at least explanation why someone put the photo on your board.

Each pattern on the has a description explaining the use of a particular element


In fact, advantages of Pinterest are undoubtedly its freshness and vitality – the emergence of a huge number of new images that instantly “repin” among the community. That is why I sometimes look for inspiration there. Nevertheless, I prefer using the proven pattern bases that allow me to focus on solving a specific problem without a risk that attractive pictures (not necessarily related to the design) attract my attention.

What are your opinion? Is Pinterest the source of your inspiration? Do you use this site as a working tool or rely on proven, specialist websites?

Author bio: This is a guest post by Krzysztof Kozak, UX Specialist in Symetria, professional with many years of experience in UX. He’s a graduate of the Poznan University of Economics with degree in Marketing and Management. He specializes in the study of mobile technology and design for mobile devices. You can follow Symeria on Twitter too.

Catalin is the founder of Mostash - a social marketing boutique - and he's always happy to share his passion for graphic design & social media.