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THE CASE FOR COMPASSIONATE DESIGN

Inspire everyone to create a life they love.

We live in an era wholly dominated by social media.


For the most part, this has proven a slippery slope of envy, narcissism, poor self-esteem and social inadequacy.


But we also live in a world of compassion and empathy. A world made better by people like Evan Sharp, the billionaire co-founder and chief designer of Pinterest.


Pinterest is worth in excess of $40-billion, with the company averaging annual revenue in the region of $2-billion. The Pinterest app has been downloaded more than 500 million times on the Play Store alone, and has over 450 million active users.


But this is not why Evan Sharp is one of the most inspirational global leaders.


In the rabbit holes of social media, much of what's so readily accessible breeds, and feeds, negative emotions. Pinterest, by contrast, is where you go to feel better. And that's by design. Compassionate design.

"Many people come to Pinterest because they feel bad," Evan says. "And we've thought a lot in the last couple of years about how to reach those people."


In fact, Pinterest has made major adjustments to its algorithms for the very purpose of making people feel better.




Evan explains:


"If you're searching for something on Pinterest that says you're depressed or lonely, we try and meet you with some practices that science says will help address that emotional state."


For example, when Pinterest noticed a spike in searching for content about self-harm, it acted quickly to filter out what would show up on the site.


More innovatively, it actively studied techniques from behavioural therapy models and devised ways to reimagine them for digital devices.


Evan's philosophy, which permeates throughout Pinterest, is one of compassion, but also self-compassion.


"I've always been someone who is a little too hard on himself. I’m very self-critical and being able to turn that inner critic into more of a compassionate advocate — it’s just helped me be less a victim of how I feel and be more positive and more centered, and that’s been really helpful given how much stress I feel like I’m under all the time at work."

So impactful is this approach, that British industrial designer and former Chief Design Officer (CDO) of Apple, Jony Ive, chose Sharp as the figure in technology he believes will change the future.


Interviewed by Wired Magazine, Ive said about Sharp:


“He understands that complex problems can be simplified and often resolved visually. Nuance and subtlety characterise his work. He doesn’t just address a functional imperative.”


Another area where Pinterest leans heavily into social and ethical leadership relates to who it WON'T accept money from.


While Facebook hedged and Twitter dithered, Pinterest banned political ads, deleted harmful anti-vaccine content and created options for users to specify more inclusive skin colours (in the beauty and make-up arenas, for example).


What it's trying to do, holistically, is to move its social media platform back into a positive social sphere, away from the negativity, stereotypes and self-esteem lowering rivalries that have marred other platforms.


“In a few years, the idea that emotional outcomes really matter in internet services will be so obvious,” Evan says.


Pinterest's mantra?


Inspire everyone to create a life they love.

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