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?

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: design, Opinion, pinterest, predictions, Social Media, user experience

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Pinterest is planning to release redesigned profiles this week, according to CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann.

“I’m so excited about it,” said Silbermann (pictured, left), who spoke at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. “We wanted to make it more beautiful … to make your profile different in kind than the profile you have on Facebook.”

Silbermann emphasized new discoverability features in the redesign, saying he and his team wanted to make it easier for users to stumble upon other like-minded users, and highlight the people their connections are repinning images from.

He also said the team is working on expanding the number of things users can pin, including video. Soon, people will be able to pin from Vimeo, Hulu and Netflix, among others. And, as was revealed earlier this week, an iPad app — as well as a public API — are also in the works.

At the beginning of the interview, Silbermann spoke of his inspiration for Pinterest, saying it was a project he always wanted to build. “I collected insects, I collected stamps,” he recalled. “I was obsessed with this idea that what you collect says something about who you are.”

He also talked about the site’s original design. “We labored over that grid,” he said. “There were literally dozens of that which were fully coded. We felt like, if your collections didn’t look awesome, if they weren’t beautiful, why would anyone spend the time to build them?”

 


SEE ALSO: What People Are Pinning on Pinterest


 

Although Pinterest’s popularity has skyrocked over the past six months, gaining traction was painfully slow during the first year-and-a-half, Silbermann recounted. Nine months after launch, the site still had fewer than 10,000 users. “Someone was asking, ‘Why did you keep going?’ I think the answer was telling everyone that we blew it was so embarrassing,” Silbermann admitted. “Google [wasn’t] going to hire me [again], they barely hired me the first time.”

Silbermann wasn’t able to identify a precise turning point for the company, but rather pointed to a number of things that built momentum for the service. “There was never a celebrity that took it from zero to 60,” he explained. Instead, growth was more organic: People would join, become proud of their collections and show it to their friends. Participation at a design conference and “pin it forward,” an online blogger event, also helped raise awareness.

Silbermann also pointed out that the site didn’t take off in the Bay Area, or in New York. Rather, the earliest Pinterest users were from the Midwest and Southeast, areas that are still disproportionately represented.

Interviewer and Hunch founder Chris Dixon asked Silbermann how he was handling the recent flood of Pinterest clones. “Clones have always happened,” he pointed out. “What makes Pinterest special is the people. If you were to pull out all the people and pins, it would be empty.” He said that the company isn’t focused on racing against such imitators, but on ensuring what they create is “really beautiful.”

Meanwhile, monetization is not a priority at the moment, according to Silbermann. For a time, Pinterest was generating revenue via affiliate marketing service Skimlinks, which Silbermann said was implemented to “understand behavior.” The long-term monetization will have “to speak to the heart of the product itself,” which is “helping people discover things,” he said. Affiliate revenue is not the business model, he insisted.

Mashable reporter Sarah Kessler contributed to this story.


A Pinterest Timeline

 

March 2010: Pinterest Launched

Pinterest is launched to a closed beta. Later it will move to the email invite system it currently employs.

Click here to view this gallery.

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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.

More About: design, Entertainment, features, Media, pinterest, trending, TV

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1. The Inspiration




The first Pinterest user we’ve seen to “hack” his boards, digital development manager Nick McGlynn inspired us to have a go too. But what inspired him?

“My colleague and I were brainstorming ways to use Pinterest for brands at Rodale Inc and I noticed that the nine squares that make up the Pinterest boards make a perfect square that would fit Instagram photos brilliantly.

“I grabbed some Instagram photos from a recent Facebook Timeline ‘hack’ I did
and decided to see how it would look if I cut them up into nine squares and made a Pinterest board.”

We think they look great! Continue through the gallery for instructions on how to hack your boards.

Click here to view this gallery.

Do you remember those awesome Facebook and Google+ profile hacks?

Well, Nick McGlynn, a creative Pinterest user, has done something similar on the new social service, “hacking” a Pinterest board to display one image sliced into nine sections.

Inspired by McGlynn, we have put together a super-simple, Photoshop-free how-to that demonstrates how you can “hack” your Pinterest boards. Have a read through our easy-peasy walkthrough. Link us in the comments to your Pinterest hacks and we’ll feature the best submissions in a forthcoming Mashable gallery.

Cat image courtesy of Simon Doggett

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Pinterest

 

News that popular social bookmarking site Pinterest might be generating revenue by adjusting and tracking the links attached to user-generated pins made the rounds online on Wednesday — but according to the site’s affiliate tracking partner, the concept is hardly a new one.

A report by social media blog LLSocial brought attention to the fact that Pinterest — which allows users to collect and share things they like on the Internet — is using a service called Skimlinks to add affiliate links to products.

“Is Pinterest receiving revenue from tracking user-generated pins? Yes, but there is nothing negative about it,” Skimlinks CEO Alicia Navarro told Mashable. “Affiliated networks help companies monetize their sites and there’s nothing illegal or wrong about it. It’s common, effective and smart. It should be celebrated.”

It’s so common, in fact, that about 18,000 retailers are working with a network of 26 affiliated partners, Navarro said. Publishers from small blogs to bigger companies such as Pinterest work with affiliated partners so when a link directs a visitor to a retailer involved in the affiliated network and makes a purchase, the merchant will pay the affiliated network, who will then pay the publisher. Skimlinks takes about 25% of the generated affiliated revenue.

SEE ALSO: 7 Pinterest Clones: Can You Tell the Difference?
“The advertiser or retailer pays only if the user makes a purchase,” Navarro said. “Pinterest is one of many companies using services like this, and it’s become an ubiquitous practice in online marketing, like investing in banner ads or texting programs.”

However, the cause of concern by some was that Pinterest doesn’t disclose that it modifies its links by adding a tracking code on the site.

“As most bloggers are aware, when you use an affiliate link in your post, you need to provide some type of disclosure either by it clearly being an ad, mentioning it is an affiliate link or at a minimum providing some type of prominent disclosure that your site features affiliate links,” LLSocial said. “This is done because you have a financial interest in promoting the product.”

Although Navarro said the company endorses disclosure, it’s up to the publisher: “I’m sure many publishers and media outlets don’t go out of their way to make it known to users about who their advertising partners are,” Navarro said.

For more information on affiliated networks and how Pinterest is using the service, visit Navarro’s latest blog post on Skimlinks here.

Do you think Pinterest should make it more clear that it’s adding tracking code to user’s pins? Or do you think it doesn’t matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


BONUS: A Pinterest Timeline

 

March 2010: Pinterest Launched

Pinterest is launched to a closed beta. Later it will move to the email invite system it currently employs.

Click here to view this gallery.


Check Out More of Mashable’s Coverage of Pinterest

More About: Advertising, online advertising, pinterest, Social Media, trending

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Pinterest

Popular social bookmarking site Pinterest has become the hottest startup on the web, luring millions of people to the site to collect and share things they like on the Internet.

But a new report from social media blog LLSocial reveals that the site may be “quietly” generating revenue by adjusting and tracking the links attached to pins that are posted by users.

LLSocial noted that Pinterest may be collecting money through an affiliate program when pins are connected to ecommerce sites. For example, a picture of a sweater pinned to someone’s online board might have a link that connects them to a site where the sweater can be purchased, and this is when Pinterest reportedly steps in.

“If you post a pin to Pinterest, and it links to an ecommerce site that happens to have an affiliate program, Pinterest modifies the link to add their own affiliate tracking code,” LLSocial said. “If someone clicks through the picture from Pinterest and makes a purchase, Pinterest gets paid. They don’t have any disclosure of this link modification on their site.”

LLSocial said Pinterest is reportedly doing this via a service called skimlinks, which automatically scales the site and adds affiliate links to products associated with an affiliate program. The service makes money by taking a percentage of the generated affiliated revenue.

Although adding a tracking code isn’t rare, the blogger said Pinterest isn’t informing users about the practice.

“As most bloggers are aware, when you use an affiliate link in your post, you need to provide some type of disclosure either by it clearly being an ad, mentioning it is an affiliate link or at a minimum providing some type of prominent disclosure that your site features affiliate links,” LLSocial said. “This is done because you have a financial interest is promoting the product.”

“In Pinterest’s case, since they are not creating the content and are inserting the links automatically, they might feel that they are not promoting affiliate linked pins any more than other pins, and thus they don’t need to disclose as the placement is not affected based on the financial gain,” the site continued.

Pinterest hasn’t responded to Mashable for comment.

LLSocial added that Pinterest should disclose this practice to users to maintain trust, even if they aren’t legally required to do so.

Pinterest’s popularity is undenaible. In fact, it has reportedly become the fastest standalone site ever to reach 10 million unique visitors in a month, according to comScore data via a report by TechCrunch.

Pinterest recently raked in 11.7 million unique visitors in the U.S., helped largely by adoption among 18- to 34-year-old women. Members tend to spent about an hour and a half (98 minutes) on the site each month, the report said.

Do you think Pinterest should make it more clear that they are adding tracking code to user-generated pins? Do you know of other websites that don’t disclose this type of profit-generating behavior? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

March 2010: Pinterest Launched

Pinterest is launched to a closed beta. Later it will move to the email invite system it currently employs.

Click here to view this gallery.


Check Out More of Mashable’s Coverage of Pinterest

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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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1. Hands

Pinterest via Edris Kim.

Click here to view this gallery.

If you’re like us, you’re obsessed with Pinterest. You get excited when you find pictures you love and pin them to your online bulletin boards with a sense of pride that they are yours.

With so many photos on the two-year-old social scrapbooking site — and countless more added each day — it’s common for some to only get a handful of re-pins. Meanwhile, other images pick up so much popularity that they go virtually viral, getting pinned from one board to the next.

SEE ALSO: 7 Tips for Planning a Wedding on Pinterest | Pinterest Becomes Top Traffic Driver for Retailers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here are 15 of some of the most popular pictures on Pinterest — all of which have raked in more than 15,000 re-pins each.

Are any of these pictures on your boards? If not, go ahead and pin them, or leave some suggestions in the comments about your favorite pins.

More About: Facebook, Photos, pinterest, Social Media, trending, Twitter

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1. Join

If you haven’t already, sign up for a Pinterest account. There’s a waiting list to join now — talk about exclusivity — but you can beat the system by having an existing Pinterest member send you a request. If you don’t know anyone on Pinterest, some have had success by finding members via Twitter and asking for invitations that way.

Click here to view this gallery.

If you’re planning a wedding and knee-deep in collecting ideas for the perfect dress, hairstyle and invitations, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with Pinterest.

The two-year-old social bookmarking site — which allows users to collect and share things they like on the Internet — is becoming a hotbed for the wedding industry. Not only are Pinterest users adding images to their virtual pinboards for inspiration to help plan their big day, but some are collecting ideas for the future and aren’t even engaged.

Either way, Pinterest is an easy way to make planning a wedding more manageable. It’s like ripping the pages out of wedding magazines and taping them to your bulletin board — but digitally. Even better, each picture is typically linked to a site where you can buy the styles you want, learn DIY crafting tips and become informed about the latest trends. Friends and other Pinterest followers can also leave comments and feedback to make the whole planning process more interactive.

SEE ALSO: Pinterest: 13 Tips and Tricks for Cutting Edge Users

To make the most of the site, here are simple and effective ways to use Pinterest for wedding planning — from which boards to create and who to follow to leveraging your findings while shopping in stores.

Are you planning a wedding via Pinterest? Let us know your tips in the comments below.

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You can’t get far online right now without coming across an article about Pinterest, the hot new visual bookmarking tool. Pinterest’s growth is explosive, and content creators and “brands” are scrambling to figure out how to “leverage this channel” (hate the buzzwords). Most advice focuses on creating a presence on Pinterest and pinning your own […]

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