Boasting 30 billion Pins and 750 million boards, Pinterest has no shortage of images and information. But sifting through that vast trove of product displays, project ideas, recipes and travel tips has become something of a challenge.
To address that problem, the visual social network on Thursday introduced Guided Search, a new discovery engine for its mobile iOS and Android apps that surfaces content from other Pinners in a more open-ended fashion than a traditional search tool.
Rather than returning a list of top search results on a query, it offers a set of subtopics to explore until finding what you want.
“Say you’re looking for plants to green up your apartment, guides help you get more specific—indoors, shade, succulents—so you can hone in on the ones that suit your space,” stated a Pinterest blog post today. “Or when it’s time for your next haircut, search by specific styles—for redheads, curly hair, layers—to find your next look.”
After entering a query, the feature lets users swipe across a series of “descriptive guides” at the top of the phone screen to narrow down their search, then view Pins under each guide, or subcategory. Built into the design is the understanding that people are often using Pinterest not for factual information, but to get ideas and inspiration.
“The guides are there to get you where you want to go, but the best part is leaving a little room for serendipity. Exploring getaway ideas might lead you to a treehouse adventure, a motorcycle trip down the coast, or maybe even something else you didn’t know you were looking for,” Pinterest said.
Indeed, the virtual pinboard already provides a more conventional search engine on both the desktop and mobile versions of the site. But the new offering “can help with questions that have more than one right answer,” the company stated. “Where’s your next vacation or what’s for dinner tonight?”
The more the service can increase engagement on Pinterest, the better for the company's budding ad business.
Pinterest, which skews heavily toward women users, had a U.S. desktop audience of 26.7 million as of March, according to comScore. But the company said earlier this year about 75% of all of its total traffic comes from its apps.
Following the mobile rollout in English today, Pinterest plans to extend Guided Search on the Web and around the world soon.