Aericon CEO Dean Whitney always likes to share a favorite quote of his with clients:
“Within 80 milliseconds their visual cortex responds as they perceive the choice items, A little later, regions of the brain associated with memory and speech become active.” — Neurobiologist Steven Rose
In other words: A picture is worth a thousands words.
Biologically speaking, humans digest visuals first. So it should come as no surprise that the Pinterest style design is taking over social networks and media consumption.
In fact, a recent study by Chicago University has revealed that social media is more addictive than sex, alcohol and cigarettes. And if you take a look at where social media is heading, its not hard to tell that a large part of what people are addicted to is the ability to scroll endlessly through stimulating visuals.
The History of the Pin-Board
There once lived a young gentleman by the name of George Brooks. In the 1920’s he was living in Topeka, Kansas. He was a simple man with simple needs. But life had a little more than simplicity in mind for young George.
At the time, cork was often used to insulate homes in addition to its ancient use as wine and oil bottle stoppers. But, it wasn’t until around 1924 that Brooks decided he would use corks in a different manner.
He capitalized on the fact that they had never been patented for commercial use as a bulletin board which then could be stuck with tacks to pin content.
The pin-board has since changed the way we leave messages in the household, office, communities and beyond. Now its style is influencing the way we consume and lay-out information online.
What makes the Pinterest-style special?
Pinterest was an instant success. In its invite-only beta stage itself garnered over 1.5 million users, accrued many millions more in page views per week, and shortly afterwards was given a valuation of over $7.7 billion. How did that happen?
Before Pinterest came onto the scene, there were a boatload of similar visual bookmarking sites, like Image Spark, Dropular, and we heart it, but none gained traction similar to Pinterest.
There were traces of successful visual networks, but it wasn’t until Pinterest combined two unique elements that this Pinterest-style design started to take-over social networks.
1. The Endless Scroll
Think about how we used to browse through content before Pinterest…
We were forced to consume one page of content at a time. And that page only had a finite amount of information on it. Only after having selected “next page” were you able to see more content.
It may seem obvious to us know, but that lends to a poor user experience. Having to leave the page you are on, to see more content, is an obstacle to users consuming more of your content.
A large part of why people coded pages like that was to optimize their SEO. The more optimized pages a web site had, the better it was for its search rankings. But, by implementing that strategy you’re tarnishing the user-experience. And the better the user-experience you can deliver, the more users you are going to attract.
The infinite scroll is here to stay.
2. JQuery Masonry
The second piece of the puzzle was implementing what is called a “jQuery masonry” style lay-out. Masonry allows for that extremely engaging experience of wrapping and stacking content to optimize the most efficient utilization of space possible. When your browser size and shape changes, the jQuery Masonry plugin will adapt the content to fit appropriately in its new size.
This is a completely new approach to how information is displayed online. Before people would use CSS floats. And CSS floats lend to lots of unused space.
Once again, the old way didn’t lend to an effortless consumption of content. We were making the users work to hard to consume that next piece of content. Pinterest makes it easy.
The perfect combo
The two together…infinite scroll and the complete utilization of web page space…it’s beautiful. It lends to an extremely engaging user experience. New content automatically loads as I scroll and each inch of computer screen is filled with content. What more could you ask for!
The power of the pin-board
Does an optimal user experience drive traffic? Pinterest makes sharing seamless and community building intuitive. And as a result it’s driving more referral traffic than Google plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.
It’s also a huge influencer in driving retail and B2C sales.
- PriceGrabber reports 21 percent of respondents have purchased items found on Pinterest boards.
- A Bizrate Insights survey, based on 3,741 online shoppers in March, reported over 1 in 4 shoppers purchased an item directly from image-sharing sites such as Pinterest by clicking an image viewed. Additionally, 37 percent of consumers saw items they wanted but did not buy. — Search Engine Land
The visual aspect is what separates Pinterest from other social networking sites as it allows users to share visual concepts (a picture is worth a thousand words). Visuals remain in the mind’s eye; whereas, text content in tweets and updates can be forgotten tomorrow. — Search Engine Land
3 fun and recent examples of the Pinterest-style design
2. I Am Beyonce – Photos instantly populate your empty screen space as you endlessly scroll through a catalogue of exciting pictures.
“24/7 mobile connectivity has employees working overtime” – last weeks blog