Finding inspiration in Google’s new video series
Google has begun a new series of videos entitled, “Google Design Minutes,” or #GoogleDesignMinutes. In this series, lead designers of Google products and technology, discuss how projects came about, challenges they faced, and how they powered through these challenges.
These videos are not only useful for tech enthusiasts, but also for anyone who has ever had a difficult problem to solve.
Below is a sampling of the videos they are putting out – watch any that appeal to you, and check out their YouTube playlist for many more.
How Google developed search to be fast AND beautiful
Jon Wiley talks about developing the “Search” function of Google. He describes how other team members did not think it was possible to speed up the functioning of the search, but he still managed to do it, by simply making a few adjustments. He focused on the utility, usability, and beauty of the search engine.
By simply making the search box a bit larger, it made the font size bigger, allowing users, especially mobile users, to see what they were searching for more easily and thus increased the speed of returning their desired results. He also helps with the development of voice integration. By being able to speak text, instead of typing it in, again, you are able to find what you need quickly. What can every day users glean from this? Small changes can make big differences. A little bit of time spent tweaking small things, can greatly impact your overall product.
How Google Maps studied users
Sian Townsend and Jonah Jones talk about Google Maps and the different stages development the project has seen. Keeping the notions of simplified, useful, beauty in mind, Townsend and Jones talk about doing research for Google Maps. By handing the technology over to people, they were able to watch user interact with it; noting struggles, or instances of not quite finding what they needed.
By watching people interact with it, they were able to integrate certain function into the interface, instead of keeping buttons and zoom, for example, on the sidebar. This allowed the user to become part of the map interface, rather than trying to find the right button. From this you should take away: research and development is critical with any project and collaboration can make everything easier.
How simplicity is at the core of Glass
Isabelle Olson addresses the development of Google Glass. The prototype she was initially presented with was bulky, raw, and unattractive. Her goal was to turn it in to something simplistically beautiful, while still maintaining form and function. Olson advises to break a project down into a few good ideas and make them shine, so that you do not feel overwhelmed. The original prototype weighed 150 grams and she reduced it to a mere 43 grams.
The take away: focus on solving the problem, then simplify it. What can you remove and make better while still retaining form and function? Focus on making it as easy as possible for consumers to use your product.
What anyone can learn from this series
The overall takeaway: all projects struggle. Coming up with new, innovative, effective, ideas are very difficult, but very rewarding. These videos also help to get the creative juices flowing; as you see that even Google development teams become frustrated and almost burn out, you gain a new perspective into your own projects.
As Jon Wiley so aptly used this quotation by Sir Arthur C. Clarke: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Your goal, with any project, should be to make it look like magic, regardless of the hours spent struggling with concepts and prototypes; make it look like magic.