Something bizarre happened in 20-11 when Larry Page took control as CEO. Google finally began to design attractive apps.
In the past, great design wasn’t really something that people looked to Google for. Google has been known for doing A/B testing tiny changes such as dozens of different shades of blue for links, rather than trusting the designers to create a strong vision. This unusual design concept of living and dying by what the data told them is what caused their first visual designer to leave in 2009.
These days, though, under Page’s guidance, it is hard to not notice several very nicely designed apps. You notice this especially on iOS, which does not even belong to the search giant. Google+, Youtube, Gmail and Maps all are designed with consistency and are very attractive.
This is contrast with some of the unattractive designs that Google, who recently began to offer free Wifi near its New York offices, used to hatch. Even some of Apple’s designs cannot fully match up with what is coming out of Google.
Many are wondering who is responsible for the better design direction. But as it turns out, that it is not any one person that is doing the new designs. Rather, there is a new vision that has been laid out by a team of designers at Google. So, each product team is able to find a way to come up with a consistent and strong design. It seems that they are just able to come up with these new designs by having people communicate effectively with each other.
When Page first became CEO, he told everyone that all of the products at Google were going to be redesigned. The product teams had only two months to put a new coat of paint on every product.
This was not the first time that designers had attempted to provide more unity across all the products, but it turned out to be the most successful effort to date.
While there have been efforts in the past to create beautiful designs at Google, the company was always designed for speed above all else. So it was more difficult for any one product team to push strong designs throughout the company.
What was needed was a CEO who could rally the entire company to make it really happen, and that is what has happened in the past couple of years.
There are plenty of changes going on at Google these days, but if you take a look at all of their products, you really can see the unity in the design now.