Help me help my mom use Pinterest
May 22, 2014 9:31 PM   Subscribe

My mom asked me to teach her (again) how to use Pinterest. I'm happy to show her (again), but I want to explain it to her in a way that will make sense to her.

She understands the general concept of Pinterest, but she is easily distracted and confused by the navigation (for lack of a better word). You can really go down a rabbit hole with Pinterest, and she gets confused by where she is, how she got to that pin and how she can get back to where she was. Then she gets frustrated and doesn't use Pinterest for 6 months. I almost feel silly asking this question, because it seems so obvious to me how Pinterest works. Can you help me think of an analogy or some other way to explain Pinterest to my 68 year old mother?
posted by christa to Technology (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have a difficult time explaining pinterest without showing someone because it's such a visual site, but here is a website you can start with.

If she's ever worked in an office, can you compare it to a filing system? That's the closest analogy I can come up with...
posted by patheral at 9:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

If she gets the concept, an analogy might not solve her problems with navigation. First you must answer the question: why does your mom want to use Pinterest? What is she hoping to collect or pin? Recipes? Outfits? Cute animal photos? If the answer is "all of the above," maybe just start by focusing on one path. All the use cases can make it a bit overwhelming for anyone.

Basically, understanding her overall goal will help you figure out the best way to achieve that goal.
posted by MsMartian at 10:58 PM on May 22, 2014

Would it help if you think of some pinterest processes to dial back confusion? Little things you can write down/teach your mum.

i.e. I never just click on a pin - I will cmd + click(mac) to open the desired pin in a new window so I don't lose my 'main page'. That way I don't get confused about where I came from.
I then have a bunch of cool stuff to look at separately and if its something I want to keep I will then pin from main page and move on. Or am I just making this hard for myself?
posted by latch24 at 12:28 AM on May 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm sure I'm older than your mother and I am new at Pinterest. I told myself I could just go slow and maybe build one board. Now I have a few. I also try never to go more than one or two steps away from the board I am working on exactly so that I don't get lost. I think of Pinterest as collecting pictures of things I like. I put a 'pin it' link on my bookmark bar so I could use it to pin things I find that don't have a link. I keep a bookmark folder of sites that I want to go back and search so I know how to find them. I could learn to use all the bells and whistles, I suppose, but don't want to -- I just want to play and I don't care about doing it correctly. Finding and collecting images and ideas is fun.
posted by Anitanola at 1:13 AM on May 23, 2014

"You can really go down a rabbit hole with Pinterest, and she gets confused by where she is, how she got to that pin and how she can get back to where she was."

This is basically by design. I have noted in the past year that they have deliberately changed their design towards this path. Pinterest wants you to get sucked in and into the depths of pinterest never to arise to fresh air again.

I agree with MsMartian, the best way to combat this is to narrow down exactly what she wants to do with it. Does she want to collect recipes? Does she want home decor ideas? DIY ideas? Build a fantasy wardrobe? Collect silly quotes?

Once she narrows down what she's actually interested in, help her follow very specific boards. It's important that she follows boards and not people, because if you follow people you tend to get things all over the map and thus get that crazy overwhelming experience.

And as another fix, show her how to close the overlay and get out of overlay hell. I find the little X in the corner actually kind of hard to see. And also make sure she knows she can click on the Pinterest logo to get back to her regular feed, it's surprising how many people don't know this UI pattern.
posted by like_neon at 1:27 AM on May 23, 2014

I would find her an online guide to which she can refer again and again.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:45 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get her to use an Ipad?

I find that I can keep using the 'x' on the top right hand corner to get back to my original screen. When I use pinterest on the computer it's hard to 'un-navigate' myself out of those rabbit holes.
posted by bernardbeta at 3:59 AM on May 23, 2014

Like someone above, rather than clicking open an image I like, I will open it in a new tab, thereby saving my place in the original search or board. I find this helps quite a bit with the issues you mentioned.
posted by Glinn at 6:52 AM on May 23, 2014

I have found that opening links in new tabs can help a bit.

TBH they keep changing their UI and it's confusing/distracting, so I don't blame your mom.
posted by radioamy at 9:08 AM on May 23, 2014

nthing opening in a new tab... I open about 3 new tabs and then look at them to decide if I want to pin them to one of my boards.... then I just close that window and go back to browsing where I left off.
posted by IpsoFacto at 12:30 PM on May 23, 2014

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