User Interfaces : First encounter

Last Tuesday we had our first encounter with the course User Interfaces. We discovered the basic concepts of Human-Computer Interaction. The first thing we discussed was ‘Why is this course important?’. There are a lot of courses on the technical side, so we need some course from the users point of view to balance things out.

After some theory, we started with a first small assignment. We had to evaluate the website Pinterest. While experimenting with the site, we wrote down the most striking features.


  • The scroll-to-top button is very useful because Pinterest provides a large amount of information on one page. 

    The Scroll-to-Top button

  • Using the search function provides three categories of results. Here you can choose between Pin, Board & Pinner. Searching for content, topics or people becomes very easy. Pins, Boards & Pinners


  • During the session on Tuesday, it was possible to look at the site without registering. Although the site was pushing the viewer to register.

Startpage 19/02Today we noticed that even just looking isn’t possible anymore without being registered. Screenshot from 2013-02-21 15:21:42

  • If you do decide to join Pinterest, you are obligated to follow 5 pinners immediately. You cannot choose to skip this.
  • It isn’t very clear what is possible and what isn’t. Do you have friends? Can you make your pins/boards only visible for these friends? Can you post only pictures or other multimedia? We only found answers to these questions by trial and error. You can invite friends, but they aren’t displayed as your friends on Pinterest. The second question isn’t relevant then. Further it is also possible to upload videos (using Youtube) or slides (using Slideshare).
  • The search function disappears when scrolling down. This is partly solved by the scroll to top button. Still if you want to search something you will have to be on the top of the page. 

After evaluating the site ourselves, we did some tests with the other groups. We presented them with some tasks which they tried to execute. Most of these succeeded without any problems. Sometimes however there was some confusion about which icon represented which task. For example the testpersons sometimes confused uploading a pin from the desktop or from an URL. But no major problems were discovered and all tasks were accomplished in the given time. These tests may be not entirely accurate, because all of the testpersons already knew the site quite good.

We can conclude that Pinterest is quite a good website for its purpose. People who want to gather more photos, videos or slides on a specific subject won’t be disappointed. Our personal need to discover this extra information isn’t that urgent, so we probably won’t use Pinterest in the future again.


11 Responses to User Interfaces : First encounter

  1. What was your main concern with the site from the first analysis? Did you design your tasks in such a way to discover more on this issue?

    • Our main concern was the question: ‘What is possible with Pinterest?’. It was clear that you could pin photos, but could you also post other multimedia like videos or slides? Our tasks were designed in such a way that our testpersons discovered this extra possibilities. Maybe unexpected, these tasks were executed without any problems.

  2. erikduval says:

    If I understand the post correctly, then the only, or at least main, source of problems were the icons? This is a bit different from what other groups discovered… Any idea why your evaluation is more positive overall?

    • stijndehaes says:

      We assume you are talking about the evaluation from asking the other groups to perform tasks.
      This was pretty positive we think because they already knew how to perform some basic tasks. This is because they asked alot of the same tasks for their own evaluation. So they already saw someone performing the same task.

  3. pjverbruggen says:

    I agree with the fact that it is a good thing that the search results can be categorized in the three categories. But I disagree that this is a pro because it’s done automatically. You should be able to look at all the results at the same time. If you now search for a Pinner you always need to make an extra click, even if no Pin or Board results exist. I would prefer when they show the top 5 results for each category.

    The 5 pinners that you need to follow is indeed very aggressive. I think we skipped it by returning to the home page but there is no option which allows you to skip this nicely.

    You mention icon confusion regarding uploading a pin, was this the only example? I don’t really agree there, because I don’t think it is an icon problem. I just don’t like it that you need to choose between uploading a picture and giving an URL. There should be only one option ‘Add a Pin’ and then there should be an URL field and a box to upload a picture so that you can choose there. Because ‘Add a Pin’ and ‘Upload a pin’ are not exclusive, in my opinion uploading a pin is a possible part of adding a pin..

    I also agree with the conclusion, we all had some good comments because we were very critical in our evaluation but I think we also need to agree that the website overall is user friendly. The main reason that nobody decided to keep using Pinterest is because we did not find it useful.

  4. Not a lot of groups seem to find Pinterest useful out of which we could conclude you are not its target audience.
    Do you think the overall user evaluation results would be better with the right focus group? Or is this kind of evaluation necessary before we can move it to the target audience?

    • stijndehaes says:

      Yes the evaluation would probably be better when done by the target audience. Because we didn’t like this kind of app and because of that we were focusing on finding flaws in it rather than finding plusses. But this kind of evaluation can be handy because we aren’t positively biased towards the app.

  5. benjaminwittevrongel says:

    I do not agree when you state that the search function is easy to use. In my opinion the search options “Pins”, “Boards” and “Pinners” are not so obvious. When you search something, the screen gets filled with images which are a lot larger than the text displaying the different search options. The images attract the user’s attention, making it easy to overlook the option to search for other users.

    • stijndehaes says:

      It is true that the pins could draw the attention but this happens all the time, it’s what the site is about. The buttons for the different categories could be a bit more visual but we think the idea is good. Finding a pinner on a page full of pins, pinners and boards would be quite difficult.

  6. Nice first post! I like the pictures that show/motivate the points you make!

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