Compassionate Search Brings More Grace to Pinterest

By Brian Wesolowski

For many of us, Pinterest is a calming place. It’s a site I’ve gone to for inspiration on recipes, holiday decorations, and gardening. For others, it helps organize ideas for a wedding or connects them to other crafters. 

Perhaps it’s because of these positive characteristics that people often come to Pinterest when they are stressed or anxious. The Pinner Product team saw this as an opportunity to help these users and did something rather innovative and graceful -- they introduced a more compassionate search

Pinterest’s graceful guided well-being activities (source: Pinterest blog)

Pinterest’s graceful guided well-being activities (source: Pinterest blog)

Pinterest rolled out a series of guided activities developed in partnership with Brainstorm, the Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation, as well as Vibrant Emotional Health and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline

When a user searches for keywords that suggest they are feeling down or stressed, he or she will receive a prompt to try an activity to help practice gratitude, identify core values, or just relax. If a user’s search suggests they may be suicidal, Pinterest directs them to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 

Annie Tan, Pinner Project Manager, says in a blog post, “This experience is one of the new things we’re trying in our ongoing efforts to make Pinterest an inspiring and welcoming place for everyone. Our goal is to meet people where they are and connect them with tools they can take with them offline and do in their real lives at any time.” 

This is exactly how companies should be thinking about the design of their platforms. This graceful design can bring more ease to someone who comes to Pinterest while having a difficult moment. 

As Caresse has written before, “we must shift the focus away from simply improving the user-experience to improving people’s life experience.” Pinterest beautifully demonstrates that this is possible with its compassionate search feature. 

For a more detailed write-up of Pinterest’s compassionate search, be sure to read Arielle Park’s article on Wired