First Business

February 08, 2012

Marketing: How Pinterest is changing website design

Even if you haven’t ever visited popular visual bookmarking site Pinterest, you might recognize its design elements which have been popping up everywhere since the startup burst onto the mainstream scene in 2011.

The site doesn’t use traditional web building blocks.

"It’s almost like a window-shopping mode,†says Khoi Vinh, the former design director for NYTimes.com.

"It puts the ball back in the user’s court,†muses Andrew Beck, a web designer at Blue Fountain Media.

"It flattens the information hierarchy,†describes Jeff Croft, a web designer and co-founder of ebook lending site Lendle.

Pinterest puts web content into sticky-note sized blocks users can organize onto pinboards that fill the entire browser screen. The majority of each block is filled by a photo, and the ability to "like,†"repin†or comment at the bottom make it look like its own mini web page.

Though the hot Palo Alto startup is staying mum about its user numbers, one study found it drives more traffic to websites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.

As it has gained in popularity, so too has its unusual design.

Quora launched a new feature in December that incorporates a topic "boards.†In January, social video startup Chill.com redesigned the site to contain "bricks†of videos shared by the people who you follow, complete with social activity from other Chill users. And several content visualization projects such as Scrolldit, which launched in December, took on the Pinterest block-by-block content feel.

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