Katherine Boehret

Snip and Save or Put a Pin in It: Two Ways to Share Web Faves

I remember something better if I write it down and I draw maps when I’m giving directions. I’m a visual person.

This week, I focused on two websites made for people like me: Pinterest and Snip.it. If you see content on the Web, you can opt to “pin” those things to a pinboard on Pinterest, or “snip” them to a specific collection on Snip.it. There are plenty of companies that save websites or lists, but Pinterest and Snip.it display content in a pleasing, easy-to-digest manner that can be shared with others.

Pinterest is a favorite site of design enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers. The site launched in March but is still only accessible by invitation, though you can get an invitation at http://j.mp/vMMaau. Snip.it, which launched Tuesday, encourages more sharing of news content and user opinions in a format that resembles a personal blog. People add content to these sites by clicking on a browser tool.

The trouble is many of us already suffer from social-network fatigue. We keep up with Facebook and maybe one other network, like Twitter or Google+. But maintaining our presence on these sites and browsing through shared content can feel like a chore. So are Pinterest and Snip.it worth the additional commitment?

DSOLUTION

A look at Snip.it founder Ramy Adeeb’s collections of stories he is following.

Snip.it focuses on sharing stories from the Web about social and political issues, technology, business and travel. And it displays these stories with categories listed at the top of the page. The headline, original sharer’s commentary, time of sharing and source for each story are posted along with an image from each story. This adds up to a lot of text and makes the site look cluttered.

And sharing news with friends and creating mini blogs as Snip-it encourages, is something I do with Twitter. Though Twitter isn’t nearly as visually arresting or as verbose.

Snip.it users can log in via Facebook or create an account. If they use Facebook, Snip.it will scour past shared content on Facebook to share on Snip.it, thus starting accounts with shared collections. The site asks users to select a few topics they care about and then leads them to related collections, to which they can subscribe and see on their Snip.it home pages.

The coolest feature is a banner running at the top of the browser as you’re reading an article someone shared. This banner contains other stories shared by the person whose article you’re reading. This gives people the ability to read curated collections of related stories.

DSOLUTION

A pinboard of Quirky Little Things at Pinterest

Pinterest is easy on the eyes and is packed with clever ideas for the home (storing folded sheets in their matching pillowcases), fashion (the trick for tucking jeans into boots) and recipes (making egg sandwiches in muffin pans). It’s available as an iPhone app, and an iPad app is in the works.

Pinterest displays pinned content from people I follow, including people who Pinterest suggests share interests with me, on one seemingly endless page of images. Scrolling through these images has the elegant feel of paging through a glossy, high-end magazine with the ability to pin any of these images to my own pinboards.

Co-founder Ben Silbermann describes Pinterest as uniform enough to browse, but still serendipitous.

Each pinned image displays the name and tiny thumbnail of the person who shared it, as well as comments from others and the number of likes and re-pins it got. The text is small and doesn’t distract from the page. Once in a while, images are repeated if several people you follow all re-pin an item, but Mr. Silbermann says this will be fixed with collapsing pins.

When I started using Pinterest about two months ago, I was quite sure I wouldn’t keep it up. But I check it every day and have started using it to make visual reminder lists, like “To Read” and “Brunch Spots I Forget About.”

Of my 25 Facebook friends who use Pinterest (the site can mine Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Gmail to find people you know who are on the site), just two are men. I think there’s plenty on the site that would appeal to guys, but it’s understandable that a site with images of ruffled pea coats and Balenciaga purses has more appeal to women.

With its attention to artistry and design, Pinterest is a welcome respite from those busy websites that try to push too much at you at once. Snip.it tries using the same format with different content, but looks congested—at least for now. As a new site, it could quickly improve.

Write to Katherine Boehret at Katie.Boehret@wsj.com


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