First a bit of context:
I have been falling victim more and more to "Pinterestization" or the "Pinterest Trap" in my design. I have a feeling I'm not the only one. See this excerpt from Hana Schank in UX Mag's 2013 Year in Review article:
"This year, we saw a trend that started to take hold late in 2012 with the rise of Pinterest spiral out of control—namely that a good chunk of the web started to look like Pinterest, with blocky images replacing content and navigation shunted to the side […] My hunch is that we’ll look back in a few years and wonder why so many interfaces were a group of pictures in boxes. Here’s hoping that this trend is on its way out."
I agree with her. The same could be said for the ubiquitous "Metro" layouts.
But what are the alternatives?
I'll cut to the chase: I am working on a portfolio site for a large organization and it will probably end up looking something like this:
Here's the issue I keep running into on this and other projects:
This treatment works really well for visual content, especially with well-done hoverstates. The eye can parse it quickly. It is pretty. It puts a lot of great content in a restricted space. It works well for RWD. More than anything, though, users seem to WANT to interact with sites like this. They beg to be clicked.
But the content for the page in question is equal parts visual and non-visual. What about representing strategy work? Audio examples? Any work without obvious visual deliverables?
One option is to add cheesy stock imagery to give non-visual content visual assets. But that feels like a cop-out and would only work if the content was majority image-based. But like I said, it's 50/50. That's a lot of crummy stock photos…
Can we think of alternatives to using crummy stock photos here? What kinds of interactions can treat visual and non-visual work equally well while still remaining highly parseable and attractive?