2013: A Visual Year

Since the launch of Bing, beautiful visuals have been our north star. We are perhaps best known for our daily homepage image and incorporating visual cues into search results. Over the past year, we ran thousands of experiments to determine how you read our pages to figure out how to best get you to the information you’re looking for or the task you’re trying to complete. Based on that feedback, we’ve tuned the site to make the entire page easier to scan, removing unnecessary distractions, and making the overall experience more predictable and useful. This refreshed design helps you do more with search—and gives us a canvas for bringing future innovation to you.

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Designing to Help You Get Things Done

The most striking element of Bing’s redesign was our new logo but the new visual system was more than skin deep – it aimed to make the search experience more useful giving you faster access to the things you’re trying to get done. We radically updated our design to streamline and highlight information so you can access and understand topics more easily. A great example of this is our Page Zero results which showcase suggestions directly in the search box even before you’re even done typing. With this approach, you can find key information and create more specific searches.

Page Zero relies on our ability to determine the intent behind your searches, so when you search for your favorite novelist brings up the option to go directly to quotes or a biography, while your favorite actor brings up the option to go directly to news, video or songs.

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Moving past Page Zero to the results page itself, you’ll see design enhancements that strip away distractions to help you focus on key information or explore highly related concepts. For instance, Snapshot now combines our entity knowledge with context from your social networks and social results around the web to give you an expanded knowledge on search topics and their relationships. Our Pole Position results give you instant answers when we have a high confidence that we know the exactly what you’re looking for. All these changes were developed to use design to express information more efficiently. Look for more pole answers in this holiday season.

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Multimedia on the Changing Web

The proliferation of images and video across the web has brought its own challenges for conveying and displaying information. Stunning improvements in computer science in the areas of computer vision and deep learningallowed us to dramatically improve Bing’s multimedia search results this year. It must be working because in the past year usage of Bing Video and Image search nearly doubled.

Computer vision technology allows Bing to evaluate the content of an image or video to provide you with more relevant, higher quality, more diverse search results. And deep learning allows us to go beyond the traditional elements computers evaluate in pictures – including colors, lines, edges and shapes – to have our computers actually learn the features and components of images. These innovations allow us to more easily filter image parameters to make sure that everything is relevant on account of their visual attributes as opposed to more traditional indicators like titles, url and anchor text. For example, Bing will return lots of portraits when you search for ‘Snow White Portraits’, because it’s actually a great signal that you only wants images of Snow White in that particular type of digital multimedia:

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As image and video search gets better, we wanted to use design to generate a corresponding improvement in how those results are presented to you. This year we redesigned our video search results. We introduced pop-out hover preview, which gives you a bigger, more dynamic preview to make sure you’ve actually found what you’re looking for. We improved video-specific filtering, so you can search for resolution, length, date, and source and made it easier to watch and navigate through the search results without leaving the page with our new overlay. For music video search results we have an even better experience, that uses our entity knowledge of artists to help you find your band’s other songs or the rest of their latest album. Image search got improvements too, like license filtering and the ability to pin to Pinterest or explore Pinterest boards from the search page.

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At Bing, we’re committed to the best in design and technology to make it easier for everyone to experience the visual richness of the web. As the ability of computers to process visual information becomes increasingly sophisticated, expect our treatment of visual information to improve in kind. Similarly, as the amount of information available on the web proliferates, it will only become more critical for us to clearly present that information in consumable ways to avoid the search overload so many report.

– The Bing Team

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