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6 Cool Ways for Designers to Use Pinterest

For visual designers, Pinterest is a virtual drug.  You can “pin” your favorite designs and websites on to a virtual board.  An additional bonus for websites whose images are “pinned” on Pinterest is incremental traffic, as viewers see their images.  Pinterest is more than just visual bookmarking.

Here are six cool ways for designers to use Pinterest.

1.  Building Your Personal Brand

By now, your online presence probably includes a portfolio site and some social networking activities with Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, or LinkedIn.  Pinterest is another social channel for you to continue to build your personal brand.  As with any social network, you build up your personal brand by establishing a profile and participating in the conversations.

Your first step building up your personal brand on Pinterest is to create your profile.  Follow these tips and tricks to build a great Pinterest:

    1. Click Edit Profile button on your profile or use the dropdown menu on the top right and select Settings to open the Edit Profile page.
    2. For your profile picture, use a picture the best conveys your brad.  For personal use, consider a picture of your face that you think best illustrates the image you want to convey.  If you want a branded identity for your company, use a branded logo.
    3. Type information in the “About” section to let your audience know who you are, what you, and what interests you might have.
    4. In the Location section, type in your location.  If you live near a big city, consider typing in this city’s name.  It helps when recruiters are looking at your Pinterest profile and boards.
    5. In the Website field, you will want to include the URL for your website.  By website, you want it to go to your portfolio site, not a corporate site where you work.
    6. You can turn the different social channels on and off, as needed.  Here are some things to consider:
      – Link to Facebook: You probably want this channel turned ON to integrate with Facebook.
      – Add Pinterest to Facebook Timeline:  If you pin alot, it floods your Facebook timeline.
      – Link to Twitter: You want this option turned to ON to integrate with twitter.
      -Visibility: You want this option turned ON for search engines to find you.

After getting your Pinterest profile set up, you need to participate in the Pinterest community.  Luckily, you can participate in several ways: creating your own board, pinning your own pictures, re-pinning other people’s pictures, like a picture, follow a person, make comments,  search for content, describe your own stuff, and socialize on Twitter and Facebook.  As with any social network, you r involvement gives you your identity and your voice.  Your involvement is how you create and sustain your brand.

2.  Showcasing Your Portfolio

Besides creating a profile and socializing, designers can showcase their portfolios, too.  Please mind your manners on Pinterest.  You will want to have more than just a Portfolio board on Pinterest.  Be sure to include other boards, such as Books You Like, Useful Sites, Retro Designs, Minimalism, or whatever peaks your interest.   And, you want to showcase your portfolio, too.

For example, the Big Design Conference has board to showcase minimalist posters, infographics, works of Saul Bass, and artwork.  We also include our portfolio, which includes our speakers and sponsors.  The additional boards give you an idea of what we like (i.e. we love Saul Bass posters from all those great Alfred Hitchcock movies).  And, we still get to showcase our sponsors, too.

To establish a good portfolio presence on Pinterest, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Pinterest Board called “Portfolio” or”My Best Work”.
  2. “Pin” the best examples of your work from your portfolio.  Your portfolio site will get some incremental traffic from Pinterest.
  3. As you pin your portfolio, you canwrite a brief description of your work, too.
  4. Lastly, you can edit the description of yourportfolio board to include information about your website.

Amanda Hawkins ( has a great example of how to do a portfolio board on Pinterest.

NOTE:  You must include other boards beyond a portfolio board.

3. Recommending Design Books with Pinterest

Designers are passionate about their field.  You have so many books written on design.  Design is still a large field—web design, architecture, mobile design, landscaping, kiosks, game design, graphic design, multi-media, film, and so on.  A really good way to determine what kind of design interests you is to look at a person’s library.

I do not know Aubrey Johnson.  But, I have a good idea of what kind of person that Aubrey Johnson is by just looking at his “Books Worth Reading” board.  (  Aubrey has 20 books on this board.  I have personally read 17 of these books.  Clearly, we are kindred spirits!

I have seen board for UX books, Typography books, Film Guides, Great Web Design Books, and more. People seem to always be interested in what other people are reading.  So, recommend some books on Pinterest.  It should be one of your Pinterest boards.

4. Creating Vision Boards with Pinterest

In graphic design, vision boards are usually done on a poster board, where people create a collage of images torn out from various magazines and sites.  When you surround yourself with these images, inspiration can strike because you can visualize something new.

Whole Food Market ( does a great job with creating some interesting Vision Boards—Eat Your Veggies, Sweet Tooth, Delicious Art.  Foodies unite!

Graphic illustrator, J. Schuh (, has some interesting Vision Boards to show case different colors—Red, Purple, Brown, Green, Pink, and so on.  In talking with him, J. Schuh told me that “Pinterest is like a drug (crack cocaine) for visual designers.  You want store these great concepts to use later in your own work.”

5. Establishing an Illustrative Design Pattern Library

Design Pattern Libraries are collections of popular design patterns, which have been usability tested.  The large design pattern libraries at Yahoo and DELL follow a style popularized by Jennifer Tidwell, Bill Scott, Theresa Neil, and Chirstian Crumlish.  These codifed patterns show a picture of the design pattern and explain the reason to use a pattern, how to implement the pattern, and other patterns you might want to use.

Pinterest seems easier to me.

With Pinterest, you just need to collect pictures of the design patterns you think will work.  You pin them to specific boards.  You can name the boards based upon what you are collecting.  For example, you can see web form board by Suzy Languidy ( and Wade Merdith (

Yes, we still need formal design pattern libraries.  With Pinterest, you can collect designs you like.  Pin them to a board.  You have the start of your own Design Pattern Library.

6. Using Pinterest for Photo Journal Studies

I like Photo Journal studies.  This UX method is a quick way to gather information for people in foreign countries and different locations.  For successful Photo Journals, you need to assign specific missions for people to take pictures.  If you don’t assign missions, people will take pictures of their apartment, family, pets, and more.

Let’s consider some missions a Photo Study of Improving the User Experience at Pubic Library.  The missions might include:

  • Take 5 photos of obstacles at your Public Library
  • Take 10 photos of things you love at your public library.
  • Take a photo journey of you going to the library to check out a book.  In this journey, start when you enter the library, search for a book, find it, and check it out.

I have not seen a Photo Journal done with Pinterest, but it does have all of the capabilities to do a Photo Journal.  You can assign specific people to upload photos to a board.  Your photographers can upload photos, make comments, and share with other people.

I think a Photo Journal is really something to take UX professionals out of their labs and offices.  Pinterest becomes a collaboration and research tool with Photo Journals.

What Do You Think?

If you have any interesting uses of Pinterest, let me know.  We can update this post at a later date.

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Brian,

    Great article! Loved all the tips. I another tip that might be another useful way for designers to use enhance their web presence using Pinterest and perhaps make #6 on your list.

    I’m Christine and I work for Actually, a Communication Design ( firm in Barrie, Ontario. We’re frequent bloggers and design banners for every article published, and wanted to showcase this some way, so we recently started pinning the banners to a Marketing board on Pinterest. The articles are a series of “How To’s..” “What is…” info on iconic identities, to name a few. Check it out for yourself!


  2. Great post! I think that pinterest is an underrated tool for designers at the moment. Going along with your first point. We’ve used Pinterest with our clients to create a collaborative moodboard for their brand and web needs. Whether its functionality or visual aesthetic, we encourage them to post inspiration and then like, talk and discuss what they’re seeing. We help moderate discussions, add appropriate inspiration and ask questions along the way as well. Its a pretty interesting way to get a team talking about the right things and communicating with each other.

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