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Pinterest launches Guided Search to navigate you through its 30 billion pins

Everyone’s favorite virtual pin-board wants to introduce you to more than just decorated mason jars, apartment envy, and wedding inspiration. Pinterest launched Guided Search on Thursday, a new mobile-first tool that taps into Pinterest’s massive user collection to bring the things you’re really looking for right to the forefront.

“Guided Search helps you find things when you didn’t know how to ask the question in the first place,” Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said during a launch event at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. And with more than 750 million boards containing more than 30 billion pins, we’re going to need all the help we can get to weed through the whimsical noise.

Silbermann stressed that about 75 percent of Pinterest’s traffic now comes from mobile devices, so a truly mobile-first search tool is essential to the visual bookmarking site’s future. The design team wanted to create a one-handed experience with minimal typing, which strays from typical search methods.

Hands-on with Guided Search

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Guided Search starts by suggesting things to search for that are popular with other pinners.

While you still start with a traditional search bar, Guided Search gives you an initial selection based on what other users are searching for. As you type, it will give you results right off the bat with just a few letters. A carousel with category-based guides displays results right at the top, which you can scroll through horizontally to tailor your search. Terms are split by individual query—searching for “antique table,” for example, splits it up into “antique” and “table”—so you can modify your search by removing or adding terms from wherever you are instead of going back to square one (perhaps swapping “antique” for “modern” after you realized that this aesthetic works better in your home). 

One of the most dynamic demos shown at the launch was a food-related search that really displayed how well Guided Search can, well, guide you through the process of discovery. For example, plugging in the term “veggie” leads to several different guides, ranging from “burger” to “gardening” to “tray.” Selecting “burger” leads to more suggestions, this time on the type of veggie burger you’d like. The process can help you narrow down your search query in a way that you wouldn’t ordinarily get from your first search. 

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Pinterest presents results alongside a suggestion of terms to search for next. 

Of course, it’s Pinterest, so pins and boards are always the focus. Pins are boldly displayed underneath the scrollable carousel of guides, and you can tap on any pin to see it in full scale or add it to your board.

Find pins for all the things 

Besides search, the Pinterest team has looked to perfect two other major functions: Related Pins and Custom Categories. Related Pins have been a staple for a while, but now more than 90 percent of existing pins have related content. That way, when you add a pin, Pinterest can present you with similar pins it thinks you’ll like. Related Pins are already pretty accurate, but the more people pin, the better they’ll get.

“We’re just one tap, one scroll away from things you might enjoy picked by other people,” said Silbermann. 

Anoter feature rolling out soon is Custom Categories, which will let users add new categories based on their own boards.

Although Guided Search, Custom Categories, and Related Pins aren’t game-changing features, these are all subtle changes that make a huge difference in the mobile Pinterest experience.

The latest version of Pinterest with Guided Search is now available for iOS and Android devices; it’s coming soon to the web version of Pinterest.

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