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The Carrot Blog

What do you get when you combine Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and a bunch of other social media platforms? Pinterest! This virtual pinboard is kicking ass and many are asking, "Why didn't I think of that?" So how could such an obvious idea create so much traffic and buzz? There are countless blog posts and articles you can skim through that share traffic statistics, demographics, and reasons it has gained popularity so quickly. However, none of them talk about the real answer behind the success of Pinterest: a beautiful and effective user interface mashed up with an easy user experience.

Pinterest is not a unique idea. We can all admit that Pinterest grabbed the best parts of our favorite platforms.

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In addition, many have preceded Pinterest in their attempts at a similar social-sharing concept. To name a few:

  1. Stumbleupon and Gimmebar help you discover and share great websites. However, they make it difficult to find your friends. By not forcing users to sign in through either Facebook or Twitter, these features are hidden behind too many clicks.

  2. Tastespotting shares a collection of mouthwatering dishes and recipes, but if you want to upload a photo, it has to be reviewed and approved. Too many rules and legalities make it difficult to keep users participating.

  3. Flickr offers online photo management and sharing, but the UX is very difficult and it's built for a very specific niche audience. Many features are hidden behind too many clicks, and the thumbnails are so small that you have to click on them to get a worthwhile glimpse of the actual photo.

Pinterest is the first platform that combines everything into one easy website for all levels of web competency. Aside from smart marketing tactics (such as their invite-only feature, browser bookmarklet, and genius use of Skimlinks to gain revenue by avoiding paid advertisements), they took expectations from other platforms that were already built and managed to further simplify and refine the experience. Pinterest's low barrier for entry has an average of 80% of female users (ages 18-54) generating over a million pins per week. The simplicity of the website's functionality makes Pinterest's UX unbelievably easy for just about anyone to use without creating a learning curve. Within seconds of signing up through Facebook or Twitter, your friends are there waiting for you and you're hit with an influx of images that you can "Like," "Repin," or comment on. Anyone can pin at any time from any website through their easy bookmarklet, and all the thumbnails are big enough that you don't have to necessarily click on them for the larger view. In just one click you can do a multitude of actions.

Now... would this social platform be just as successful without a beautiful UI and a superior UX? Absolutely not! Because the truth is, if it's not easy to sign up, if users are confused, if it takes too many clicks to get to desired content, or if it takes too long for something to pique their interest, they're gone and on to the next website. Say goodbye to your good idea and its content. Often times, the importance of UI and UX is overlooked. The idea and the strategy, although incredibly important, disappear without an effective user interface and experience. Jason Gross states it perfectly in a recent article on Smashing Magazine:

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And because the content on Pinterest is user-generated, this means the ability of users to interact with the website and each other will be completely driven by the interface.

So I'd like to give a nod to Pinterest for proving that you don't need to reinvent the wheel if you put your efforts into the areas that count most. It's low barrier for entry, beautiful UI, and streamlined UX are certainly the drivers of their success. Now start pinning!!