Pinterest – UX report

Challenge

Report on User Experience of Pinterest, based on the process of signing up for an account and pinning as a new user, to examine the user experience using the basic functionalities.

Objectives

To obtain data about the users’ experience investigated by Nielsen’s heuristics and cooperative evaluation.

Methods

  • J. Nielsen heuristic evaluations – review of the system and compare it against 10 usability principles by Jacob Nielsen, which provides the designer with corrective measures.
  • Cooperative evaluations – evaluate system by observing users completing tasks, recording their observations, thoughts and problems with the system. For the study seven regular web users, between the ages of 18-25 were recruited. The group contained male and female testers, who had never used Pinterest before. Following the first two observations, the list of the questions was revisited based on the issues identified.

Findings and recommendations

Visibility of system status

Heuristics: Pinterest does not use immediate visibility during registration. Overall, good system status visibility.

Observations: Participants did not mention any problems with the system status. The majority of them felt guided through both tasks.

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Match between system and the real world

5-01Heuristics: Language is very understandable and purpose of each button clear.

Observations: Each task was very simple for the vast majority, as they felt guided through the process.

User control and freedom

Heuristics: High level of user freedom except ‘interests’ part during signing in.

Observations: Two users suggested ‘skip’ option during picking interests.

This was not a problem for the majority of users but it might be beneficial to add it improving user experience.

 

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Consistency and standards

7Heuristics: The website is consistent in style and design except ‘help’ elements.

Observations: Participants did not notice any inconsistency on the website. Only one user noticed no sign out button.

Error prevention

Heuristics: Error prevention is effective but not always immediate.8-01

Observations: Users noticed errors during completing tasks and did not have problems recovering, except one user who could not complete the Facebook registration process.

The only exception appeared during the registration with Facebook account process, which uncovered an issue with coding. Therefore, errors need to be eliminated, help elements added, and process of sharing personal data needs to be more transparent for users.

Recognition rather than recall

9-01Heuristics: The website use recognition through the signing process, basic pinning, and most of user’s actions. However creating new board window uses different elements.

Observations: Most users did not have a problem using the website quickly and recognising elements of navigation. The only exception was creating new pin board.

Therefore, redesigning this step is recommended; replacing the plus icon with a more familiar one.

Flexibility and efficiency of use

Heuristics: Registration is flexible except for the interest selection stage. Pinning is very flexible. Search window is a very efficient way of finding interesting pins. Share option is not always available.

Observations: One of the participants mentioned no flexibility during choosing five interests. Another user mentioned the search solution as a very efficient one. Majority of users did not notice the share option at all.

The share button is not always visible, which is the reason why users do not notice and use it often. It is suggested to add it to the pinning screen to increase social potential of Pinterest.

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Aesthetic and minimalist design

23Heuristics: Website uses a very minimalistic layout and some of the basic options are hidden. The colour scheme does not interfere with search results.

Observations: All of the testers expressed positive opinions about aesthetic and design of Pinterest.

Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

13Heuristics: Pinterest allows for the fast and easy recovery from errors and suggests possible solutions.

Observations: Participants did not experience many errors during the process.

Help and documentation

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Heuristics: Help and documentation are inconsistent, sometimes hidden and difficult to find. There is no help available when creating a new board.

Observations: A couple of users noticed a lack of help option during creating a new pin board.

It would be beneficial to redesign the style of help message to be consistent, visible and matching the overall website style. In addition, it is recommended to add help to the ‘creating new board’ window, as it is the only one without clear instructions.

Summary

Registration via Facebook account seems to be faster, but users do not trust this process. The overall impression of the website seems to be relatively positive, especially aesthetics. The favourite feature was the pinning action. Surprisingly, almost no participant would recommend Pinterest to a friend. This may be a consequence of the impression that Pinterest is ‘common’, ‘standard’, and ‘disappointing’.

In summary, there are many similarities in heuristics and evaluation findings, which confirm their relevance. The two methods are comprehensive. Heuristics evaluation is more detailed, and allows for the highlighting of obscured issues, and these important for every user. Cooperative evaluation helps to find solutions suitable for users however the tester group is a sample of small part of population.


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