How to do a Visual Search

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Visual Searches help clarify ideas and things that aren’t completely tangible yet into something that can be shared with the people on your team. In this post on how to do a visual search, I talk about why this is a helpful tool for projects for yourself or for others.

When would you do a visual search

Anytime you’re doing a new project, I highly recommend doing a little bit of research beforehand. A lot of the time, people think about who they should hire. But I would also encourage you to visualize what the end goal looks like. Visualization helps to motivate, confidence, and anxiety reduction.

They have become popular lately and are also called Vision Boards and Mood Boards. The collection of images you have can help you take your project from a thought floating around in your mind, to something that’s tangible, executable, and take it from a vision, thought, or mood into a physical form. I wrote a blog post about how to create a visual board on Pinterest here. There’s a brief mention on how to do visual search in that post. But this post is meant to be the deep dive with a lot more ideas on how to do that!

Google Image search

It seems silly to teach someone how to do a Google Search. It’s become such a widely adopted thing.

You can go the image.google.com and do a regular search. It knows that you’re looking for images so images will pop up! Or you can type in your search per the usual google.com address. Google will give you a list of results. Here I searched for “dogs:

9 Billion results!

Right under the search bar, Click “Images” instead of “All” which is the default setting. Then you will see all the cute dog photos to make your heart happy with it’s sweet doggy image goodness!

The even give you examples of more specific dog searches below “Images” of common searches related to “dog” the search team in this example.


Pinterest is trying to shift their image from a social media platform to a visual search engine.

Here’s the same search for “dogs” on Pinterest. Just look for the magnifying glass to start your search!


You get another adorable set of photos of dogs!


Pexels is a newer platform discovery to me, and I love it! Their IG profile says, “Free stock photography from a global community of creators.” What it doesn’t tell you is that they also have videos and way to donate back to the artist/creator whose work you’ve used to say thank you!

Here’s the same result for the same “dogs” search I did for the other search websites.

Instagram (hashtags, locations)

The IG search is a bit different, but has a lot of the same elements. Go to the search box and type in “#” then word you’re looking for. This automatically pops up a list of hashtags it thinks you’re going to be interested in.

I chose two to see how they compared! First, “dogs” like all my other searches.

Then I picked “#dogstagram” another recommended hashtag.

All came in with results of cute dogs!

How are you going to collect all the images of things you find?

You can can screen grabs like I’ve done through out this blog post. Or you could put them in a Pinterest Board. I’m sure there’s a ton of other ways to do this because there’s all kinds of project management software out there these days. Use what makes sense for you, your workflow, and can be repeatable process.


Vision boards have been helpful for personal and professional projects. I’ve done them personally for my own goals I want to accomplish. And I’ve also used them for the majority of client projects I’ve worked on. They can help you solidify or reinforce your vision, help expand and expose you to different ideas, and materialize projects from being conceptual to being concrete!

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