What is a good pin image design, and what exactly does the “best Pinterest image” look like? I’ve had my share of pin image designs. I’ve tested the pins against themselves back and forth – changing arrangements, colors, images, headings. There’s one consistent truth about pin image design: You have to understand what elements to include in your pin, and how those elements affect your audience.
Designing for Viral Potential
There are several goals you want your Pinterest images to achieve:
- They should stand out in the Smart Feed (in a good way)
- Be legible and easy to understand
- Attract your target audience
- Entice people to click through to your website
There’s certainly a lot more to pin images than just how they look, but it’s the absolute first impression you’ll get… so it’s pretty important.
The Viral Pin Formula
Designing a viral pin isn’t as hard as it sounds. Really, you just need 5 basic components:
- Strong use of Hierarchy – to draw the reader’s eye to YOU
- Ample white space – to promote a sense of order and breathing room for the eyes
- Good usage of contrast – so that your pin is easy to read
- Related imagery – to promote the content beyond the pin
- Branded Elements – to establish a level of trust with your viewers
Here’s a taste of what viral pins look like:
The Viral Pin Breakdown
Okay, I’ve given you this formula… but what do these things actually mean? Let’s break down one of my own pins as an example…
In typography, Hierarchy refers to the arrangement or presentation of elements in graphics in a way that implies importance. It tells the viewer what’s important, where their eyes should look first, and it can offer direction within the graphic.
2. WHITE SPACE
This supports our text and other visuals by providing enough “white space” (it doesn’t necessarily need to be white) around those elements. It gives breathing room, and allows your eyes to focus on what’s important.
It’s all about legibility here. Contrast isn’t only about using easy to read colors – it’s about good font choices too.
4. RELATED IMAGERY
The visual is just as important as the text. It’s important to use a clear, professional looking image that promotes the content your pin is about.
5. BRANDED ELEMENTS
Include your website URL and some sort of branded element on your pins so that viewers know who and what to expect when they click through. I use my URL and a submark logo on mine.
Place Your Elements Correctly
I see this time and time again – people putting their pin elements in the wrong places. What I mean is, they create an arrangement that simply isn’t efficient for pin viewers.
Call To Action
Did you know? – Your Call to Action (your headline, and anything that tells the reader what the pin is about or what action they should take) should be contained within the top half of your pin design?
It sounds silly, right? Because I imagine a lot of people reading this are thinking “Where the heck else do people put it?” – but for everyone else who isn’t putting that information at the TOP of your images… well, you’re doing it wrong.
Let’s look at a couple of those viral pins again…
All of the information necessary for the reader is located in the top half of the image. Because we read naturally from top to bottom, it’s important for most pinners to create images that doesn’t leave the viewer searching for what the pin is about.
The only real exception here is for the recipe bloggers who might consider an image / CTA / image format to draw in a viewer with a picture of yummy food, followed by their call to action, and a second image of their food.
Your image should only be within the bottom half of your pin design. We want to put the image into a supporting role for your call to action.
The image may attract the reader to look at the pin as a whole, so be sure to choose a professional looking image that reflects your content. It should support whatever your blog post or landing page is about so that there’s no confusion about what they should expect to find.
So why towards the bottom if the picture might attract the reader? Because ultimately, it isn’t what the pin is really about. For any blogger (including food bloggers), it’s the text that tells them what the pin is about and naturally we view a pin from top to bottom. The related imagery is just an eye-catcher during the mindless feed scrolling.
Trust me on this one, okay? I’ve tried it every which way and it’s important to brand your pin images. But just as it’s important to brand them, it’s also important to do it correctly.
Simplicity in design is important, and if you find that you can communicate effectively after removing an element, then you should remove that element. That’s why I recommend to people that they reserve that sort of stuff for the bottom of their pins.
We want our viewers to focus on what the pin is about and to put your branded elements before that information just distracts. You get a literal split second in the feed to capture someone’s attention, and maybe a couple of seconds for them to read your pin. Don’t waste that by putting branding elements where they don’t belong.
Almost everything in this post relates back to an understanding of Typography – the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. Our choices greatly affect our pin designs and ultimately that affects our audience. Once you come to understand the fundamentals of what makes for good typography usage, creating pins with viral potential will come much easier to you.
Gone will be the days of worrying “does this even look good?” and you can instead focus on other important aspects of Pinterest like writing good descriptions, or optimizing your website for both Pinterest and Google.