Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

There’s one thing you should know before we open up this can of worms: I have 795 pins on Pinterest. Probably by the end of writing this article, I’ll have 895. As you can see, my wish list of Pinterest features hasn’t caused me to slam down my laptop screen in disgust.

That being said, I would change a few things. And based on Pinterest’s new profile, the company already has.

Most of these 10 suggestions have to do with Pinterest.com’s design and the social network’s user experience. For instance, I’d love to be able to move pins between boards with the greatest of ease. I’d also like to create a private board or two — not because I want to build a digital shrine to Ryan Reynolds, but because I’d like to plan a future wedding without my boyfriend having a commitment freak-out.

Here are 10 features I’d like to see on Pinterest in the future. I’m sure all you pinners have even more dreams for Pinterest, so sound off in the comments below.

1. View the Individual Boards I Follow

At this point, you can only view users you follow, not the individual boards you follow. I’d like to be able to know both.

For instance, I’ll browse a user’s page to determine whether I want to follow that person. However, many times, I have no interest in particular boards, and therefore, don’t “follow all” boards.

But there’s no way to go back and determine just which individual boards I’ve followed in the past. What if I want to view them for future inspiration?

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1. LEGO Stationery Art Carousel

Add a colorful dash of blocky fun to your desk with this organizer. It comes complete with LEGO crayons, pencils and erasers.

Cost: $28.29

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Spring has nearly sprung. If you plan to take advantage of the fresh start to get your workspace sorted, we have found 10 terrific accessories to help organize your office.

From cable management to tidying paperwork to writing implements, our stylish solutions will add some geek chic and a little bit of witty design to your workspace.

SEE ALSO: 10 Awesome Accessories Featuring the Vintage Apple Logo [RAINBOWS]
 

Take a look through our gallery of selections, fresh for spring. Let us know in the comments which items you like and why.

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If you’ve skimmed the TODAY Show’s website recently, you may have noticed something familiar. It looks a heck of a lot like Pinterest.

In fact, Pinterest is influencing website design all over the place. Companies are favoring intensely visual, accessible design elements similar to the pins on Pinterest.

TODAY has found that a similar site concept resonates with its Pinterest users. “There’s something about the mindset of Pinterest that is similar to what [people] love about TODAY.com — and that’s discovery,” says TODAY’s digital director, Jen Brown. “Sometimes I go to Pinterest and I’m not sure what exactly I want, but I know I’m going to find something fun. That’s really how we try to program our site.”

SEE ALSO: How Pinterest Is Changing Website Design Forever
Brown explains that, similar to Pinterest, TODAY.com provides people with five minutes-worth of entertaining, interesting content that they can discuss at their happy hours or mommy groups. She says that both Pinterest and TODAY.com give users “a little moment that they can take away with them when they have a chance.”

Those “moments” also originate from the TODAY Show broadcast itself, Brown says. The show lends itself well to visual snapshots, which incidentally, work well on Pinterest. For instance, when a Rockefeller Plaza fan brought a picture of Matt Lauer as Rosie the Riveter, TODAY’s digital team recognized that the occasion would pin well to Pinterest. “You have to grab that one moment and put it out there,” says Brown.

Other content that does well on the TODAY Show Pinterest? Food, animals, travel and aspirational messages, says Brown. And we’re not talking complicated, gourmet dishes, but rather, accessible meals that anyone can tackle. That mindset has a lot to do with TODAY’s family-centric, female demographic. And while many would argue that Pinterest’s 82% female user base and the TODAY Show’s audience couldn’t be a better fit, “TODAY means different things on different platforms, so I don’t think it’s a one-to-one correlation,” says Brown. “But we try to be mindful that [the show has] a very specific audience with specific behaviors and specific interests.”

Brown suggests that users embrace a similar brand of specificity in their own Pinterest activities. She advises that pinners use the platform with targeted goals in mind — her first boards organized ideas and inspiration for redecorating her living room. “That really gave me a reason to look for various rugs that go with my weird green couch,” she says. “When you have a purpose, it becomes really fun to search and explore, and you find the people who are talking about the same things.”

How do you see Pinterest affecting the social media presences of media and entertainment organizations in the future? Let us know your thoughts about TODAY’s strategy in the comments below.

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iPhone 5 Concept by Ciccarese Design

 




 

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The iPhone 5 might not be arriving any time soon, but that hasn’t stopped artists and design firms from creating their own mock-ups.

After analyzing the various iPhone 5 rumors, Italian designer Federico Ciccarese came up with these gorgeous renders.

Ciccarese’s vision of the iPhone 5 predicts a slightly curved back. The body of the phone, in fact, looks similar to Apple’s Magic Mouse. The display is flat and “retina” in nature and the phone tapers off at the top and bottom.

The headphone jack has moved to the side to accommodate the new design and the back looks to be blasted aluminum, similar to what is used on the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and iMac.

This isn’t the first time Ciccarese has mocked up his own version of future Apple products. In addition to previously trying to design the fifth-generation iPhone (what would become the iPhone 4S), Ciccarese has also taken on concepts such as the iScreen, his vision of the rumored integrated television from Apple.

We love the way the mockup details the glowing Apple on the back of the phone. It’s the sort of design touch that we think Jony Ive and company could even appreciate.

What do you think of these mockups? What would you like to see in the iPhone 5? Let us know.

Graphics and concept courtesy Federico Ciccarese/CiccareseDesign

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Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Jon Barocas is the founder and CEO of bieMEDIA, a Denver-based online marketing and media solutions company that specializes in video content production and distribution, mobile visual search, technology platforms, SEO, VSEO and more.

Like most technology fans, I am always ready and willing to try any technology that promises to simplify my life. QR codes seemed to present an accessible and uniform way for people with smart devices to interact with advertising, marketing and media. Those little squares of code seemed to open a world of opportunity and potential. But after using them for a length of time, I shifted my perspective.

My initial honeymoon with QR codes was very short-lived. The initial rush that I had received from trying to frame the code on my device had lost its luster. I started to view QR codes as a barrier to additional information. And in many instances, the rewards (whatever I received as a result of scanning the code) did not measure up to the effort of the transaction itself.

Consider a recent study by comScore, which states that only 14 million American mobile device users have have interacted with a QR code. In essence, less than 5% of the American public has scanned a QR code. So where’s the disconnect?

Inadequate technology, lack of education and a perceived dearth of value from QR codes are just three of the reasons mobile barcodes are not clicking with Americans. But it goes deeper than that.

Humans are visual animals. We have visceral reactions to images that a QR code can never evoke; what we see is directly linked to our moods, our purchasing habits and our behaviors. It makes sense, then, that a more visual alternative to QR codes would not only be preferable to consumers, but would most likely stimulate more positive responses to their presence.


The QR Alternative


Enter mobile visual search (MVS). With MVS, you simply point at a product or logo and shoot a picture with your smartphone’s built-in camera. Within seconds, the MVS application will provide product or company information, or even the option to make a purchase right then and there on your mobile device.

MVS is a far more compelling and interactive tool to enable mobile marketing and commerce. In today’s increasingly mobile world, instant gratification is the norm, and taking the extra step of finding a QR code scanner on your mobile device no longer makes sense. With MVS, you are interacting with images that are familiar and desirable, not a square of code that elicits no reaction.

The opportunities are boundless with MVS. Unlike two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes, MVS will have wrap-around and three-dimensional recognition capabilities. Even traditional advertising will be revitalized with MVS. For example, picture an interactive print campaign that incorporates MVS as part of a competition or game. Marketers can offer instant gratification in the form of videos, mobile links, coupons or discounts as incentive for taking the best pictures of a particular product or logo.

The world has already started to migrate to MVS. For example, companies in Argentina and South Korea currently allow commuters waiting for subways or buses to view images of groceries or office supplies. Embedded within these images are recognitions triggers: Smartphone users place and pay for an order to be delivered or picked up within minutes. 

Also, MVS can cash in on word-of-mouth marketing. Marketers will seamlessly link their campaigns to social networks so consumers can share photos and rewards, such as vouchers, coupons or music downloads, with their friends and followers.


QR Code Security Risks


In addition to being a more versatile medium, mobile visual search is also more secure than QR code technology. Cybercriminals are able to cloak smartphone QR code attacks due to the nature of the technology — QR codes’ entire purpose is to store data within the code. There is no way to know where that code is going to take you: a legitimate website, infected site, malicious app or a phishing site. MVS’s encryption modality will eliminate the opportunity for malicious code to download to your smartphone.

Recently, there have been documented cases of QR code misuse and abuse around the globe. For instance, infected QR codes can download an app that embeds a hidden SMS texting charge in your monthly cellphone bill. QR codes can also be used to gain full access to a smartphone — Internet access, camera, GPS, read/write local storage and contact data. All of the data from a smartphone can be downloaded and stolen, putting the user at risk for identity theft — without the user noticing.

Mobile visual search is a safer and more secure technology that can provide more information and content than a QR code, without as many security risks. By focusing on real-world objects and images rather than code, MVS lessens the risk of a virus or Trojan attack.

Safety, security and versatility — there are many reasons that MVS will supplant QR codes. However, there is one important, largely overlooked reason to favor MVS over QR codes: For the first time, we will be able connect with our actual surroundings in a truly interactive way. We will be able to provide a virtual marketplace that is familiar and accessible. Humanizing this interaction and making it more visual are the foundations of MVS’s imminent success.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, youngvet

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Even if you haven’t ever visited popular visual bookmarking site Pinterest, you might recognize its design elements — which have been popping up everywhere since the startup burst onto the mainstream scene in 2011.

The site doesn’t use traditional web building blocks.

“It’s almost like a window-shopping mode,” says Khoi Vinh, the former design director for NYTimes.com.

“It puts the ball back in the user’s court,” muses Andrew Beck, a web designer at Blue Fountain Media.

“It flattens the information hierarchy,” describes Jeff Croft, a web designer and co-founder of ebook lending site Lendle.

Pinterest puts web content into sticky-note sized blocks users can organize onto pinboards that fill the entire browser screen. The majority of each block is filled by a photo, and the ability to “like,” “repin” or comment at the bottom make it look like its own mini web page.

Though the hot Palo Alto startup is staying mum about its user numbers, one study found it drives more traffic to websites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.

As it has gained in popularity, so too has its unusual design.

Quora launched a new feature in December that incorporates a topic “boards.” In January, social video startup Chill.com redesigned the site to contain “bricks” of videos shared by the people who you follow, complete with social activity from other Chill users. And several content visualization projects such as Scrolldit, which launched in December, took on the Pinterest block-by-block content feel.

Pinterest didn’t invent the basic design structure, but it did help make it cool.

Most designers cite a layout plugin called jQuery Masonry while describing the look of Pinterest’s site. Launched in February of 2009 by designer David DeSandro, it makes it easy for web designers to create a vertical layout like that of Pinterest.

It also broke the system of organizing information online based on reverse chronology, as favored by Twitter and Facebook. Reverse chronology is a tired, overly-used system; as Vinh says, “I almost thought it was the default way to organize information on the web.”

Though many sites experimented with the jQuery Masonry layout, it didn’t immediately catch on with sites that were offering a service.

“The sites I saw before Pinterest that used this design were pretty much tech demos of how you could do this,” Croft says.

Pinterest, as far as the designers Mashable spoke with could remember, was the first site to take the idea to mainstream success. It showed how the design could solve certain challenges eloquently and how the traditional reverse chronology layout could be broken without scaring users away. In fact, it was attracting them in invitation-only droves.

Consequently, the design caught on. Croft says that five clients in the last six months have mentioned Pinterest when discussing what they want their website designs to look like.

“At a pure level, there’s an advantage if you ave set of information that benefits from people accessing it in a non-linear fashion,” Vinh says of the layout. “For most people, they saw it on Pinterest and want to be almost as cool as Pinterest.”

A Quora “board.”

Chill.com after its December redesign.


Check Out More of Mashable’s Coverage of Pinterest

1. Hands

Pinterest via Edris Kim.

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Building off its homepage redesign in December, YouTube is rolling out design updates to other aspects of its site.

The changes include updates to the Browse page, Video Editor and Video Manager and align with the overall rebranding that Google has pushed out to the majority of its sites and products.

The Browse page now boasts a cleaner design with a focus on discovering new channels and videos. YouTube displays the most viewed videos as well as recommendations based on your past viewing habits.

A nice touch is the “play all” button, which will play all the videos in a certain section or channel.

YouTube Browse Page

The Video Editor has also released a big overhaul. Not only is the look and feel consistent with the overall YouTube design, the timeline and moving playhead are now much more similar to editing programs such as Apple’s iMovie.

YouTube Video Editor

YouTube updated its Video Manager back in December, but the company has made some changes based on user feedback. This includes a new search history section. YouTube has also re-added the like and dislike statistics and the ability to sort by popularity.

YouTube Video Manager

YouTube isn’t the only video sharing service to change up its design. Vimeo started rolling out its biggest update in five years earlier this week.

Let us know what you think of the new YouTube in the comments.

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1. Daniel Christian

Ground Control to Major Daniel — this Timeline cover is out of this world.

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Now that Facebook Timeline has rolled out, many of you have become more familiar with its most prominent feature, resulting in a plethora of creative and noteworthy profiles. Now, we’ve scoured the social network and asked our readers for some of the funniest cover photo designs.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Timeline Roll Out: Everything You Need to Know

Whether it’s a tribute to an old Nintendo game or a play on placement or lighting, one of these cover photos is likely to make you smile. If you’re not a fan of the new profile changes, you may want to check out these browser tricks to get the old Facebook back.

Think you have a funnier cover photo? Share yours with us in the comments.

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This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Sure, having a website for your business serves a practical need: to draw net-surfing users to your product or service. However, it’s also much more than slapping on a run of the mill two-column template and calling it a day. Nothing kills an online buzz like a poorly designed or drastically outdated website. Dry and boring default templates, broken assets, confusing pages and invasive widgets do nothing but harm a page’s style, which in turn reflects poorly on the company.

2012 is heralding a new wave of innovative web technologies and design, and a page that stays in step with these trends is bound to pique interest and lower your bounce rate. Even more, a well done and on-trend website remains effective well after the year is over, reeling users in with thoughtful design and building a design-conscious and taste-making reputation. Keep these tips in mind when you clean up your company’s website, and stay ahead of the curve for the new year.


1. Don’t Be Afraid to be Bold


Mail Chimp. Instagram. Pinterest. All of these websites are joined together by a commitment to bold designs and layout. Whether it’s an exaggerated footer, a turn to minimalism or a bold and new typeface, incorporating a key graphical element to a website speaks volumes about the overall composition of the layout — and a keen level of attention to detail. Opting for a bold design element is a great way to modernize a website and keep it on trend in the coming years.

A bold design can be obtained with very little money, especially for those who aren’t necessarily experienced in coding. For example, webpages operating on a WordPress can find a host of free templates that offer a wide range of customizable options to suit any business. New and exciting fonts can be found via Google‘s open API font styles and require a simple set of code to be dropped in for compatibility with a website. Inspiration and how-tos for more hands-on DIY upgrades can be found at coding/design blogs like A List Apart, One Extra Pixel and Mashable‘s Dev and Design channel.

For those with a little more cash to burn on a proper contractor, 99 Designs relies on crowdsourcing to gather great designers for companies looking for a reliable and cutting edge renovation. Companies on 99 Designs are allowed to name their own price, which means a promising design on a budget.

However you choose to go about it, a bold design dusts off the cobwebs on your old page and keeps it fresh for years to come.


2. Use HTML5 … With Care


For the last couple years, people have been buzzing about HTML5, and it’s not just chatter; HTML5 offers a lot of exciting flexibility that can make a website truly interactive. Seamlessly embedded videos, drag-and-drop interfaces and dynamic message posts are all achievable via HTML5, and with relatively little code work.

But it’s not enough to just call up your freelance web designer and throw up some HTML5 features. As with any programming language, there’s always an issue of browser compatibility. While your new and shiny UI outfitted with dynamic HTML5 might look stunning to a user running on the latest version of Chrome, your high-tech page may look like a series of broken features — or nothing at all — to a less tech-savvy user running Internet Explorer 7 (and there’s a lot of them).

This issue has been longstanding in the Internet world, but there are precautions to take in order to ensure that every user has a pleasurable experience on your website without you making a major investment. Modernizr is an open-source, JavaScript-based tool that offers feature detection for HTML5, and it’s just-as-snazzy brother CSS3. Instead of doing simple browser detection, Modernizr will figure out just what features the user’s browser can support and react accordingly. If a user is operating on an incompatible browser, then Modernizr will automatically decide whether to switch to a JavaScript-based fallback of the features or just create a downgraded version.

Make no mistake, this solution shouldn’t be implemented by a newbie to code, but it does provide a simple way to implement exciting and revolutionary features while still providing support for the little guys.


3. Cut the Fat


The traditional layouts for websites often call for separate pages that encapsulate the “About,” “Contact” and other informational areas of the website. 2011 saw minimalist designs from multiple websites, and that often translated to cutting these pages in favor of a sleeker overall design (think Tumblr). Some companies chose to forgo nearly everything to produce a strongly graphical one-page website — blogs like One Page Love and successful networking tools like Flavors.me show that people are drifting towards a bold singular statement that makes a big impact on fellow users.

As we move forward in 2012, further exploration into one-page websites is a given. But a single-page website has both its pros and cons. HTML5 can help create a one-page website that cleverly contains all necessary information via pop-up boxes or other media, but the amount of information that can be on a one-page website is still relatively limited. Do you want your website to make a bold statement about your company and focus less on a blog-style format? If so, a one-page website could be right in your wheelhouse. Are you more interested in showing off testimonials, case studies and blogs from your employees? If yes, then this trend would be worth passing on.

However, that doesn’t mean to forgo trimming entirely. Culling the best parts of your website and truncating the rest will result in a sleeker, more intuitive design — and sleek never goes out of style.


4. Tie in Social Media Intelligently


This tip could also be titled “Quit it With the Widgets.” Announcing your social media presence on your own website is an absolute necessity, but it needs to be done with care. Automatically updating widgets that stream in social media presence seems intrusive and outdated, not to mention that they can be a hassle for a DIY designer to install and maintain.

To put it simply, social media should absolutely be a presence on a business website, but it should not be a dominating presence. Integrating social media, whether in graphic links or a social ticker, should be done with the user’s eyes in mind. It’s simple on paper, but can be difficult to execute. When social media is done intelligently and with consideration, your website instantly will look socially connected and organized.

Are there any other ways you’re keeping your website ahead of the game? Let us know in the comments.

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The future of manufacturing and design relies on a printer that costs up to $60,000. MIT Media Lab professor Neri Oxman and materials science professor Craig Carter have created machinery that makes 3D printing of buildings and other structural prototypes a reality.

One of the latest examples of 3D printing is a 6-inch cube sculpture that says “Making the Future.” Check out the process in the Mashable video above. The inkjet hovers over a flat surface and creates the cube from the bottom up, layer by layer. The biology-inspired printer consists of mounted inkjet heads that deposit plastic layers to form an object. Another laser-based model uses metal powder to make durable airplane creations.

SEE ALSO: Will 3D Printing End Mass Manufacturing? [PICS]

The result of these 3D processes is better design, because it allows for the stretching of one’s creative mind. Designers can go from working with hard plywood, sheets of glass, steel beams and concrete to working with materials and molds that are 100% malleable.

So, what’s the science behind these printers of the new age? These machines rely on algorithms that make shapes with the “unmixing of two fluids” — a combination of thermodynamics and material kinetics. The lab continues to develop new kinds of 3D printers and perfect these models.

What do you think the effect of these new printers will be? Are you an artist or designer willing to use 3D printing?

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