I have a rather large collection of images grabbed from the interwebs stored on my drive, and I figured it was time to embrace bookmarking and sharing them online, not least it makes choosing prospective purchases for my home easier when I can see them grouped together!
But which site? The answer everyone gives is Pinterest, but I hate to go with an obvious answer without first checking out a few alternatives, and figuring out what differentiates them. I couldn’t find any half-decent comparative reviews that did anything beyond listing names, so I dove in myself…
To those who are familiar with Delicious (social bookmarks) and Flickr (photo sharing), can think of these sites as a combination of the two. Most of them allow you to bookmark (add/post) a photo into lists, and follow other people who do the same for an additional stream of inspirations. If you’re not interested in sharing, then most of these sites are also great for ad-hoc discovery — just punch a search term in to get a gauge on what people are liking of recent!
I’ve listed some [current] pros and cons for each of the sites I checked out below. The key differences amongst them are the degree to which you define what is posted and where, e.g. We Heart It simply allows you to post photos, giving you no option to provide a title, or even comment, whilst Fancy allows you to do both and add to multiple lists. The sites with more comprehensive classification features, naturally also tend to have better discovery features.
Some of the sites that let you create your own lists (e.g. Pinterest) I found too limiting in that each one must have a designated category for items that it contains (e.g. Fashion, or Home) and you can’t mix these up to combine items of different types, whilst other sites let you mark the category of each item you add.
Another characteristic of the sites is the differentiation between posting and favouriting. Sites that only support posting (and reposting) are really only maintaing lists associated with your profile. Sites that support both however, have deeper social functions that differentiate items you’ve purposely posted to a list, from those of other users that you’ve simply favourited.
Despite some notable shortcomings that’ll hopefully get changed, in my opinion Fancy beats them all pants down, and so I’m now using it as my primary bookmarking site (follow me!). However recognition has to go to Indulgy for being refreshingly simple, vi.sualize.us for its tagging (so much better than managing lists), and Juxtapost for an export function!
- Plus: per-item category; multiple lists per item; item likes; item forwarding (‘show to…’); item reposting; sort lists; change/upload photo;
- Minus: forced sign-in on public item pages with rather laborious signup; bookmarklet is broken [CSFR blocking], browser plugin has no control over lists when adding (it always creates a list with the chosen global category name); see update above—posts may be merged with other people’s or edited;
- Observations: Related items handling is poor, but serendipitous discovery of items is quite good. An interesting aspect of Fancy is the ability to buy and sell though it directly as a marketplace.
UPDATE: it seems Fancy do some item aggregation (which seems to prevent some duplicates), but means your posts may be merged with someone else’s, thus loosing the title, image and link you may have set. This defeats the purpose of being able to set/edit them, and I put a fair amount of effort into making sure my posts have accurate attribution and data. As a result I simply can’t use Fancy without my efforts potentially being wasted, although for most users it shouldn’t matter much. However I’ve also had a comment on a post disappear too when it was merged. This practice of merging is likely driven by their marketplace in which they associate posts with related things for sale, but could probably be improved if their editors were to better choose the data to be kept.
- Plus: tag-based (multiple tags per item); choice of layouts; tag trending; item reposting; related items (from tags); folksonomic tagging (when item re-posted); private bookmarks
- Minus: no favourites; design is a bit rough around the edges; can’t edit link;
- Observations: Comes across as more of a photography bookmarking site, but is actually suitable for any type of imagery! Can be hard to explore uncategoriesed tags.
- Plus: item reposting; sort lists;
- Observations: You can post an item to multiple lists only by reposting it. Something I dislike about Pinterest is the amount of duplication—you frequently keep seeing the same images (even next to each other)!
- Plus: subcategories; related items (from site and category); item reposting; export;
- Minus: no favourites; can’t set link; broken UTF support;
- Observations: The UI is slick but I’m not too fond of websites that are trying to be more like applications. Not sure what the point of colour palette browsing is (at least not without linking it to image categories/search).
- Plus: tag-based (multiple tags per item); trending tags; item reposting (when favouring);
- Minus: can’t set title or link; no commenting; no per-list following;
- Observations: Can be hard to explore uncategoriesed tags. Possibly too girly for all audiences!
- Plus: item forwarding (‘suggest’); plugins (contextual menu);
- Minus: no commenting; no per-list following;
- Observations: supremely simple.
- Plus: global categories; global trending;
- Minus: crap search view;
- Observations: An obvious but fair Pinterest clone.
As an addendum, Tumblr is also perfectly capable of being used for image bookmarking, and maintaining lists using tags, plus of course it’s a fully fledged blog — but you’d need a good template, and the dashboard isn’t really cut out for scanning across large numbers of images quickly. It’s less great for keeping a record of favourite images without reblogging them though.