Pinterest's Home Feed
Improving usability and engagement by redesigning Pinterest's home feed.
I came up with a new 'undo refresh' feature and a way to highlight pins that friends recently created or pinned.
Redesign a feature from a popular tool.
Understand user desires and the original designer's intentions for the feature.
Identify areas for improvement in the current design.
Iterate based on analysis and feedback, resulting in clear and effective designs.
Create a high-fidelity prototype demonstration.
Pinterest is a popular visual discovery engine for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration, etc.
THE CHOSEN FEATURE
The feature I’ve chosen to redesign is Pinterest’s Home Feed.
Specifically, I am redesigning the home feed on the mobile app version.
PROBLEM / USER RESEARCH
I read through app reviews and asked two of my Pinterest-using friends what they felt could change about the home feed. Pinterest has many useful features outside of its home feed but users can experience a disconnect between home and the rest of the app. This generalization can be broken down into more specific obstacles:
Pinterest has many social features but can lack engagement without a way to keep up with your following community from the home feed.
Users can only explicitly see activity and posts from those they follow in 2 places (neither on the home feed): the updates channel and by tapping into your following from your profile page. This obscurity reduces users ability to engage with creators they like.
Users often mistakenly refresh their feed, losing images they saw permanently.
"The app refreshes if you leave it to look at something… which cause you to lose the the pin(s) you were looking at (I recall looking at a pin for a door… and I can't find it anywhere)."
--User on the App Store
"I've been on Pinterest for probably a decade and no update has me more upset than the constant refreshing of the home page"
--Another user on the App Store
"Also sometimes i'll be looking through my boards on my profile and when i try to go back to scrolling on the homepage a refresh button will pop up and won't go away unless I press it"
--My friend Rena
Pinterest has a useful feature, 'recently viewed', that is hidden deep in your saved pins.
It currently takes 3 steps on 3 different pages for a user to find their history of clicked on pins. Furthermore, recently viewed pins are not an intuitive find under the search bar of your pins because users never saved these pins. This is also useful feature to combat the previous refresh struggle.
SOLUTIONS & ITERATING
BRINGING COMMUNITY UPDATES TO THE HOME FEED
OPTION 1 - Add following boards to the top of the home feed for customized feeds.
OPTION 2 - Add pins that specifically lead to your following's new boards
OPTION 3 - Highlight recent pins and creations from your following
Referencing my original goals, when I was brainstorming solutions, I wanted to make sure I understood why Pinterest may have designed the home feed the way it is. I felt that the home feed was meant to be highly personalized, pretty simplified, and provide an immediate sense of inspiration. Thus, rather than try to take a user's attention away from their general feed, I wanted to create a feature that could be incorporated as part of the naturally generated recommendations. It also could fit into Pinterest's pre-existing design system of adding extra attributions under the title.
Different iterations of how to highlight a pin was being suggested from a friend's feed.
MAKING REFRESHING LESS PERMANENT
I discovered that users were likely to accidentally refresh in 3 instances:
Scrolling too fast to the top and over-scrolling.
Douple tapping the home icon by accident.
Leaving the home feed for pro-longed periods of time and triggering a refresh.
Since this behavior is different than a purposeful refresh, my ideal solution was to identify occasions when user behavior indicated a potential accidental refresh and only in those incidents, show a temporary 'undo refresh' button.
Undo button is at the bottom allowing for easy reach.
Undo button is at the top, where user's eyes would already be following a refresh.
ADDITIONAL - RESPONSIVE SHORTCUT
Lastly, I decided to make a shortcut to 'Recently Viewed' appear if and only if a user chose to undo a refresh. By making the shortcut conditional, the scrolling navigation on the top stays more readable until this specific situation comes up. This shortcut appearing is meant to anticipate a user that has perhaps just spent a lot of time scrolling down the vertical feed or briefly closed the app / left the home feed. I chose to highlight the new shortcut in read so users would know there was a new update.
These designs were made on a short timeline but I managed to get 3 of my friends to give some feedback on my initial iterations. Their opinions were particularly helpful when I was trying to decide what wording or imagery was most communicative in creating the "pinned by" and "created by" highlights. Their feedback also made it pretty clear that the 'undo refresh' button belonged at the top of the screen.
PREVENTING USER FRUSTRATION WITH LOST PINS
The 'undo refresh' button appears after sudden/accidental refresh behavior from the user. Users can choose to reverse the refresh by pressing the button. This action will also trigger the appearance of the 'Recently Viewed' shortcut.
If a user did want the feed to be refreshed, the undo refresh button will fade as long as the user scrolls down. The user then can proceed scrolling down normally.
INTEGRATING YOUR CHOSEN FOLLOWING INTO YOUR HOME FEED
By recommending and hiding new pins or creations from the people a user follows, users can gain a sense of which of their following are active and who's taste they like. This can also aid creators in increasing their impressions. This simple feature sidesteps the need to create separate categories or recommend boards as a whole.
The pin icon builds on users' familiarity with it as a symbol for saving. It also helps break up the text and differentiate it from other types of attribution line designs.
This design was made to account for the difference between a friend pinning a pin to their board and creating their own original pin.
This was a fun challenge because Pinterest is an app that I've used for a long time and have seen evolve. I enjoyed thinking through what things I would want to change and add. On top of trying to create a version of the design that I liked, by studying Pinterest's entire app layout, I also learned a lot from their design approach. Clearly Pinterest has gone through many iterations and the design reflects the many layers the app has built up.
If I had the chance to do this again with more time I probably would have looked for more inspiration from other social media platforms and competitors. I also would have liked to come up with a more comprehensive redesign that rethinks how Pinterest integrates its social feature ecosystem. Lastly, these designs would obviously have been improved through more user testing and interviews.