I read a tweet by Jeff Van Campen who said:
Sometimes I see Pinterest users who have screen after screen of single-pin boards, and I want to take them through a card sorting exercise.
This got me thinking – how on earth do people sort their data? Me, being me, and slightly OCD about grouping of data (hey – it’s a good thing) – naturally thinks that there’s always a very simple, logical way of grouping things. Now when I say ‘things’ I mean that overall – from how you put your socks in the sock draw (just bunch them together in matching pairs and throw them in the draw) to how you file data on the computer (a bit more complex).
I should know better really, I mean I work in UX and no two humans are the same. We do our job by identifying the largest common denominator and build solutions for that. This is obviously what Pinterest has done in the way they’ve designed their site. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest – it’s like getting a peek inside what makes everyone else on this planet creative – but it does pose a problem for them. The whole point of what they do is to create groups of visual content and make it accessible for all.
When you sign up for Pinterest, you get given a set of pre-defined boards – they’re very well thought out in terms of naming – and then you, well, just start pinning. So what on earth would lead people to just add one pin to one board and end up with hundreds of boards. Do they just not get it? (probably not).
I guess what Pinterest have done, is create a site which exposes non-techie people to the concept of information architecture. They give you a starter for ten and expect you to get on with it. The problem is that a lot of people won’t understand the idea of grouping of content, making it easy for everyone to find.
I wonder if there is a way to overcome this potential problem, without running the risk of making things overly complicated. Perhaps a ‘tool tip’ introduction that helps these would be clutterers shape their boards? It’s something to ponder, although I suspect the peeps at Pinterest have bigger fish to fry – with the issue of copyrighted material being displayed on their site (at the end of the day – I would have thought that the site serves as free promotion to website content, with an audience of people re-pinning content it’s a great word of mouth tool to get people to your site – but that is a post for another day).
As for sorting, or more specifically, card sorting – the principal behind it, is the same as having a deck of cards that have been shuffled to death. You have four suits, with different numbers on them. There are two ways to approach this… do you have thirteen piles of four cards, or four piles with thirteen cards? Again – a discussion for another time, but something to think about… are you a ‘four card’ person or are you a ‘thirteen card’ person?