While the introduction of Google+ took center stage this week, Google was quietly rolling out a new product, What Do You Love? (WDYL) behind the scenes. Its clean and aesthetically pleasing design delivers a useful conglomeration of a number of their products. Appealing to people’s sense of fun and personal interests, WDYL lets people search for things they “love”, while showcasing a wide array of Google’s lesser known (and well known) products in one centralized dashboard. A brilliant stab at marketing, really. It delivers as a dashboard mash-up of Google’s products (potentially disguised as a marketing vehicle). However, the results are nonetheless intriguing and an interesting tool for some off the cuff competitive research.

What is WDYL? – Initial Thoughts

With no formal announcement regarding the new WDYL service by Google, the intended purpose and functionality has yet to go public. WDYL allows users to search for something you love (bonus points for the cute heart “search button”) and serves a dashboard of results containing the thing you love, conveniently placed in a “call to action” for one of Google’s many products.

  • The merging of people’s “loves” (similar to “likes” as Facebook provides) with each product is a clever way of utilizing things people are passionate about and associating those things with a Google product.
  • Each Google product module headline on the dashboard contains a “call to action” to use that Google product to find out more about what it is the user loves. A few of these include (using an example search for “mac and cheese”):
    • Google Maps: “Find mac and cheese nearby”
    • Google Image Search: “See pictures of mac and cheese”
    • Google Earth: “Scour the earth for mac and cheese”
    • Google Alerts: “Alert me about mac and cheese”
    • Google SketchUp: “Explore mac and cheese in 3D”
    • YouTube: “Watch videos of mac and cheese”
  • To do any of the above actions requires that the user actually use the Google product.
  • Google has done a good job of integrating familiar products (Maps, YouTube) with the unfamiliar (SketchUp, Moderator) which may be a good long-term strategy for keeping users interested long enough to gain visibility for their other more obscure products.
  • Additionally, with each search a new order and placement of each of Google’s product modules is displayed. So users are not always seeing Images or News at the top of their dashboard. Patent Search or Moderator may secure the top of the dashboard, high visibility location.

What do you love?

So, if WDYL is successful at promoting some of these lesser known products and gaining users, would Google failures like Wave (among others) have had a chance to shine? Or, is this just a fun exploration tool to use on rainy days? Bigfoot followers might be interested to see the Google Earth result that implores them to “Scour the earth for bigfoot”.

There are definitely kinks to work out, as many searches miss the mark. The templatized style of WDYL doesn’t meld together well with every single search, or fit into the same warm and fuzzy “what do you love?” category. With relevancy being at the core of Google’s mission, I’m surprised that they haven’t found a clever way to combat more negative searches such as “suicide”, which returns a Google calendar result with a “Plan your suicide events” headline. These types of unintelligent results could be a turnoff for searchers.

It will be interesting to see how these standalone products can work together and how successful or unsuccessful WDYL is in the coming months. It’s too soon to tell if WDYL has staying power, or if it fade eventually fade into obscurity. In the meantime, how do you plan to use Google’s “What Do You Love” service?