Untangling Web 2.0

An aspiring information professional shedding light on the Web 2.0 phenomenon

How can we provide a rich user experience? (P)interesting question…

on April 1, 2013

Pinterest is a website that allows users to share photos and organise them in a pin-board style. When I first heard of Pinterest, I thought – you’ll have to offer more than that to (P)interest me! What Pinterest was offering sounded like something I could do on my desktop computer without an Internet connection. But after signing up for an account and doing some browsing for images of interest to me, I understood Pinterest’s selling point.

The socialisation factor.

Being able to see, comment on, and share the images that other people are collecting, gives the whole exercise a purpose and provides the user with an experience.  Overall Pinterest is providing users with a good one, which leads me to one of Tim O’ Reilly’s patterns of successful Web 2.0 applications – providing users with a rich user experience.

‘The “wealth” of a user experience comes… from how readily the system gets people communicating: discovering, contributing, and sharing information’.

Pinterest enhances the more traditional process of collecting and scrap boarding images using actual paper (shock, horror) or desktop applications, by allowing much more social interaction and an interface that is highly interactive but still remarkably simple to use. Users can create their own pin boards and collections, can comment, re-pin and like images, intuitively and easily.

The search function that Pinterest provides only adds to the simplicity of the application. Instead of just using Google Search to locate random images, I can search within Pinterest and view other people’s collections and ideas. Planning a wedding for example is made easier, because you can follow others’ journeys through images and even comment and interact with the person who ‘pinned’ an image.

To further provide a seamless experience, you don’t always need to be on the site to access its content. Integration is available via Facebook and Twitter, which also keeps people updated on what you are interested in.

Now, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me as I explore more and more Web 2.0 applications, that personalisation is very important to their success. I haven’t done too many searches in Pinterest  yet so I haven’t directly experienced this personalisation, but Pinterest’s Privacy Policy indicates that customized content is indeed suggested to users. It’s nice to know that if I am constantly browsing images for sharks, Pinterest is all for helping me find some more.

 

Image [Pinterest_Shark] (n.d.) Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pinterest_Shark.jpg

Personalisation is achieved via cookies. Your usage is logged, not only when you are browsing Pinterest but other sites as well. I don’t have a problem with this in theory – this is a common strategy used by social media websites – YouTube is an excellent example and it definitely benefits the user.

But here is where I think Pinterest are overstepping the mark a little.

I am still relatively new to Pinterest and have never followed anyone. To my surprise, when I logged in today I discovered that there are 55 people that I am following! This  insightful blog post explains why this sometimes occurs.  Wait A Minute – Pinterest’s Sign Up Process Is Downright Sketchy. I am not sure why Pinterest have suggested that I would like the pinners that I am now ‘following’, as I have never browsed anything remotely related to them on any website, but more importantly, why they have taken the next step and followed them for me? I don’t mind confessing that I feel a bit violated. This is the first time that a social media site has taken such liberties on my behalf – at least to my knowledge.

What does everyone think about this?  Is this sort of activity necessary, in the name of providing a rich user experience?

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15 responses to “How can we provide a rich user experience? (P)interesting question…

  1. Jason Bourne says:

    I believe websites such as Pinterest and YouTube have access to personal information far too easily. They need to make things more clear on sign up rather than hide it in the terms and conditions or privacy policy.

  2. sukhshans says:

    Hi,
    Pinterest took the photo experience online and by adding the social factor into the experience it made it better. Desktop application do provide the same feature back lacks the ability to network however, one thing with photos being added online is the matter of privacy. While images stored on PCs is still yours, images uploaded might not.

    -Sukshan

  3. evecrithary says:

    Yes that’s a good point – I haven’t decided yet if I want to participate further on Pinterest for this reason. Thanks for the comment!

  4. EDIE CHENG says:

    Hi,

    I like your post which is well-structured and combines both positive review and privacy concern.
    Pinterest indeed offers users with intuitive and rich experience through the UI design and integration of social interaction and personal creation.
    But I agree with you that it is absolutely an invasion of privacy that users cannot choose how they want to expose themselves on their board. Users who follow your pin board can browse all information on it without your permission if you set it to public.
    It is overly personalized as well when they automatically make you follow your contacts and even send notifications to them…..

    Highly suggest that Pinterest should consider one the best practice of harnessing collective intelligence: share controls with users 🙂

    Keep on the great work!

  5. bronwynsc says:

    Loved your post, Eve, especially the quote from Eventful “discovering, contributing and sharing”. Your post also highlighted to me the value of collections to ‘take you on someone’s journed’ like their wedding planning. I think this is a great analogy and very powerful. You also touched on the problems which are nice to know before you jump in. Really good info, thanks.

  6. moniquealvis says:

    Pinterest is one of my absolute favourite sites – I started using it when it was still “invitation only” and fell in love. One of the comments above mention that it “took the photo experience online and made it social” Which is true, but for me, Pinterest took my “saving inspirational images and pages” experience online and made it a lot easier and more accessible and organised. Instead of having documents and folders of pictures, or creating blog posts, I can now just “Pin” things I like. It’s quick and very easy to look back on.

    That’s really interesting about the followers; I had no idea it did that and it definitely didn’t when I signed up. I’d say that would be a bit of a “flawed” user experience in terms of personalisation, as you say. Perhaps they could take a page out of other sites, like how Twitter provides you with some “topic” suggestions, you choose some and then it suggests some people who are popular for those specific things.

    Great post 🙂

  7. Dear EVECRITHARY
    Great Post!
    The example of Pinterest is very nice. Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, ‘re-pin’ images to their own pinboards, or ‘like’ photos.
    sami

  8. Hi evecrithary
    Thank you for the enjoyable post, you did excellent choice on the app, Pinterest is an attractive website for sharing photographs and has been around for a couple of years. Once I start search for one thing on Pinterest I can’t stop it. It is also useful for visual businesses such as interior designers, fashion companies to promote their products. I agree with you in simplicity of this app and the privacy policy is not crystal clear, the potential privacy concerns because Pinterest forces you to link through either your Twitter or Facebook accounts.
    good luck

  9. Hi evecrithary
    Thank you for the enjoyable post, you did excellent choice on the app, Pinterest is an attractive website for sharing photographs and has been around for a couple of years. Once I start search for one thing on Pinterest I can’t stop it. It is also useful for visual businesses such as interior designers, fashion companies to promote their products. I agree with you in simplicity of this app and the privacy policy is not crystal clear, the potential privacy concerns because Pinterest forces you to link through either your Twitter or Facebook accounts.
    good luck

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