Pin with Friends: How we use Pinterest for Collaboration


Collaborative tools are everywhere. Google docs, Dropbox, and a bunch of other cloud-based platforms make group editing much easier and more prevalent. But what about visual creatives? How do we collaborate? Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 12.42.35 PM

Pinterest is becoming a huge source of well-curated images. I found myself mining pinboards for inspiration before I ever used it for collaboration. UX, print design, photography, packaging, anything visual. It's all right there for your eyeballs to enjoy.

What Pinterest has created — almost unintentionally — is a database of things in the world that matter to human beings.

-Alexis Madrigal, deputy editor of The, for NPR

With the ability to visually search for everything under the sun, I have found that Pinterest is the best way for me to quickly generate mood boards. I start a pinboard for each project. As the designer/art director, I typically start with concepts, photographic inspiration, visual metaphors, or even similar projects from our client's competition. If I can't find what I need on Pinterest, I take pictures, scan drawings, or pin from other websites. The first pass is just a huge information dump. Like brainstorming, I don't edit myself.

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Until I edit myself. Before I present to the rest of the team, I remove extraneous content and caption everything that needs explaining. Then I walk them through the content, get feedback and invite them to the board. The collaboration begins!

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If we're working on a print ad, I'll get headlines from the copywriter in the form of comments. If it's a mobile app or website, the developer and I will pin UI elements and comment about animations, transitions and user experience. Eventually, we pin up work. Layouts, screenshots, etc. and give feedback. This is the fun part, because you see how everything came together. The research has informed the final product. If everything goes well, it should be even better than the sum of its parts.

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Disclaimer: this IS a social media tool. If you pin on a public board, it's out there for everyone to see. Some clients won't like their trade secrets publicly available.

In addition, you may not want to unveil your first iterations or concepts before you share with your client. That's why I use secret boards for nearly every project. That's also why you'll see general boards on Strange Flock's Pinterest page more often than project-based.