Beginning the Next Phase of Image Search

At Bing, we’re constantly striving to make your search experience better.  In order to do this, we spend a lot of time examining what you’re trying to accomplish. When it comes to image search, we know that when you conduct a search you’re either looking for a specific image or you’re looking to browse and explore across a range of different topics.  We refer to these primary intents as hunting and exploring.

Often you’ll start hunting and end up exploring or vice versa. On average, people do two searches and view about 6 images.  With this in mind, we look at how queries are entered, how many images are viewed, how far down you scroll and whether or not you use filters to better understand whether you’re a hunter or explorer and in turn how we can make the experience easier.

At a high level, here are the three ways that we try to make your image searches more successful.

  • Images:  Regardless of whether you’re hunting or exploring, making sure that we have high quality and relevant image results is our top priority. You can read more about how we do that here.
  • Suggestions and alternate content:  If you’re scrolling down the page and not clicking on images, we reason that you’re probably not finding what you’re looking for.  To help, we have a powerful and continually maturing set of search suggestions and collections to help you visually refine, explore and change topics.
  • Actions:  Actions are a set of features that we have introduced to help you, well, take action.  This includes things like our filters that help you refine a result set by letting you sort by   source or size. We also have features like image match which lets you upload an image and we’ll retrieve identical or similar sets of images.  We’ve also made it easier for people who like assembling images on Pinterest to do that more easily with a one-click pin feature.

In each of these areas, we are working hard to improve the capability and quality that will enable us to ship new and improved features more quickly as well as enable new scenarios that we hope will surprise and delight you.

This week we’re rolling out the first step on this path: a new user experience that provides a foundation for us to better meet your needs. The new experience is visually rich and adapts based on your query, resolution and interaction. It looks great across devices, its touch friendly and is also extensible enough to support the direction we’re heading in.


Looks and feels great across devices and screen sizes

Our set of search suggestions and alternate content has grown and improved over time, for example we recently added Pinterest board search. At the same time, people increasingly access  Bing from a wide array of devices and screen resolutions with and without touch. This evolves our old experience which struggled to cleanly support new content, different resolutions and input methods.

Now you’ll notice that image results will expand to the full width of your screen with exploration suggestions being placed dynamically according to your screen resolution. This means an uncluttered first page where images are the hero.   You’ll also notice that images have higher fidelity and are cropped and altered less to better inform your click.




The experience is great with touch. On your Windows 8 device or iPad, try swiping through one of the inline carousels (more on these later) or clicking on an image and swiping your way through more. Everything is touch friendly, responsive, fast and fluid – look out for a post next week detailing Bing’s touch and iPad friendly features. These improvements will soon come to Kindle and Android tablets as well.


We now have one cohesive, touch friendly experience across desktop and tablet and will be improving it more over time. Our mobile experience has already gone through similar changes and will feel very familiar to you after using this experience – check it out on your Windows Phone, iPhone or Android.

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Refinements and exploration just got easier

Our refinement and exploration suggestions and Pinterest board search have always been among our most popular features and have remained a big focus for this release.

We will now intelligently place the right content in the right place according to your query, screen resolution and device inside carousels that you can swipe or click through to see more.

As we began testing this experience with users, we found that many wanted an always available way to refine their search or find suggestions. To meet this need, we’ve introduced a mini-header that slides in after you scroll down. It’s designed to take about 10% of your screen to ensure it doesn’t detract from an immersive image search experience but still provide you with everything you’d need to change query or topic.


The suggestions that we display in the mini header will change as you scroll through the inline carousels to give you access to what you last saw. You can always click the button on the right to rotate through the content — the dots represent the each available set of content in the order they appear on the page.

Finally, we recently released a new hover experience and you may notice that we have now begun showing a link with a search glass icon for many images.



We’ve noticed that people often want to learn more about or see more images like an image they’ve found but struggle to formulate the right query to do so. To fix this, we now give you a suggested search link in the pop-out.

In the example above, we have a lot of beautiful results for ‘National Park’ but the 2nd image may seem like the perfect place to visit next. Now you can simply hover on it, see that it is from ‘Yosemite National Park’ and click through to see more images of Yosemite.

All together, these improvements will allow us to surface all the rich and relevant content you love and continue to experiment with more, without cluttering the main image search experience regardless of device or resolution.

When will this be released?

The experience will begin to roll out in stages to all desktop browsers and tablets in all markets in the coming weeks with Kindle and Android tablets following very soon after.

We’ll be looking out for your feedback and how you use the product and will be working continuously to respond to it and improve the experience over time.

– The Bing Image Search Team


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