People say it all the time: Google's products don't feel like they're designed, but rather, engineered. And we'll be the first to admit that past Google products, despite their technical merits, didn't have the sort of cohesive simplicity you find in products from, say, Apple.
Recent improvements to Google's apps, both on Android and on the web, have started to turn the tide. Google's products look and feel like they fit together. They have similar visual elements and operate in a similar fashion.
Today, Google made a post to its Developers Blog to "start the conversation" about design. Google I/O, coming in June, will feature sessions and workshops focused on design. So how does Google "start a conversation" about design? It publishes a series of YouTube videos that really, really try to convince you that Design is super important to everything Google does.
First up is a video all about how making search faster is the same as designing it to work better for people.
Then, a description of how Google Maps drew inspiration from the veins on a leaf to make the satellite view more visible.
Finally, a look at Google Glass, one of those products that is often ridiculed for being dorky, and a little too big on your face. This is perhaps the most interesting of the three, as it shows off several of the early prototypes. If you think Glass is too big and dorky-looking now, you should see what those looked like!
The videos attempt to drive home the idea that product design has been a major consideration at the company all along, but frankly, telling a story about how the search bar used to be the default HTML text entry box size, or how the imperative on Google Glass' design was "just make it comfortable, and beautiful", doesn't do them any favors. It comes across as a company that certainly has designers, but for which design hasn't been a core value.
But lately, Google is showing a refreshed commitment to design. From design-focused updates to core apps like Gmail or Calendar, to overhauled icons and stricter design guidelines and requirements for Android, and now this YouTube video series in advance of design-focused sessions at Google I/O, it's clear that the Google is tired of its reputation as a company where design doesn't matter as much as engineering.
And we will all be the beneficiaries of this renewed focus. Now if only we could stop companies like Samsung from upsetting the apple cart by doing things like changing the whole Settings menu into a big grid of circles.