How to use Pinterest as a design tool

Pinterest as a design tool-w480-h480

I’m a word person. I can’t draw for toffee. But I’ve spent 20 years dealing with designers and artists. The challenges I have are that:

  • I don’t speak their language very well
  • My own design knowledge is limited
  • I have some preferences and, of course, I understand my own goals
  • But I don’t want to lock designers down or limit them

Recently, I’ve leaned that Pinterest is a good way to communicate about design with designers.

Mood boards

I can use it to collect mood boards to show my preferences for a particular project and share that with a designer. I use a Pinterest add-on for Chrome to grab images that I like and searching Pinterest itself is also helpful.

Sharing ideas

What’s great about Pinterest is that it gathers all your inspirations, preferences and clippings in one place and makes them easy to share with designers. You can add notes and link back to the original image sites. They can share their ideas back with you.


Driving innovation

I’m also grappling with the whole question of infographics (i.e. how to make them not suck) so I’ve been thinking a lot about charts and diagrams. So I’ve created a collection of chart types and designs that I like on Pinterest. It helps me filter the good from the mediocre.

Website design

For website design, I’m still grabbing screen images into OneNote but once I figure out to snapshot a whole webpage directly into Pinterest, I’ll do that instead. Dear readers: any suggestions?

It looks like everybody else is using Pinterest to plan weddings or bake cakes but I think it is a genuinely useful design tool.

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5 Responses to How to use Pinterest as a design tool

  1. Matthew, I’ve used recently to generate live thumbnails for a links directory on a website I created. Works quite well, and might suit your needs for Pinterest. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a bookmarklet to turn it into a one-click solution (yet).

    • That’s a good tip, Eddy. Also, if you use the grabber on their home page and then click on the Pinterest bookmarklet, it picks up the miniature rendering of your website so that sort of works. I also quite like Google’s screengrabber for Chrome and I use Microsoft OneNote’s clipping tool a lot but both of those require saving the file and then manually uploading to Pinterest, which is a chore, but they work very well for other tasks like compiling help pages etc. Hope all is well with you and Amulet. Matthew

      • All going well with Amulet, thanks Matthew — in fact, we’re hoping to (finally!) start selling into Europe this year, after two years US-only.

        We’re also looking at adding XBMC support. Now that Microsoft have deprecated Media Center, XBMC and its various cousins are probably the best bet for media & TV.

        • I think XBMC is a good idea and perhaps look at some of the Kickstarter consoles (was it Ouya?) and other smart TV devices.

          My prediction for Microsoft: they’ll deprecate Media Center then Apple will do some kind of Apple TV, make a mint and then Microsoft will suddenly develop a second-rate media center product in a failed attempt to catch up the lead that they previously surrendered. It happened before: smart phones, e-book readers, smart watches, tablet computers, music players, browsers etc. etc.

          Sometimes Microsoft is at its very best when it’s the underdog and it has to innovate to compete. Just compare the Metro UI with iOS, for example. But when they’re ahead, well, it’s another story.

  2. I predict your prediction will be correct (it’s well on the way to happening already, sigh!)

    Microsoft isn’t lacking for bright people – far from it – but there definitely seems to be a missing piece in their ability to take cool technology and make genuinely successful products from it. (Of course, there are counter examples, but not nearly as many as there should be.)

    Case in point, Windows Phone 8, has a lot of cool and innovative features. Yet, I have just spent the past 90 minutes trying, unsuccessfully, to find a way to retrieve my wife’s SMS messages from her Nokia Lumia 820 before she returns it. I ended up transcribing the important ones by hand.

    And of course, the reason she is returning it is because the battery life is beyond abysmal – she has to recharge it up to three times per day. (A replacement unit had an identical problem; it seems quite widespread, from reading Nokia’s support forums.) Her older WP7 Lumia 800, which she is now using once again, doesn’t have this problem.

    We’ve digressed a fair bit from PInterest now, but it’s nice to have a mild rant every now and again 🙂

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