Derek Powazek on Google's Design
May 19, 2006 at 8:58 AM
Long time friend Derek Powazek, has a very interesting article up over at Vitamin entitled What Would Google Do? As you might guess the article is also very controversial. See Joshua Porter's response Does Google Succeed Despite Bad Design? This is a very interesting topic as the design, or shall I say non-design, of Google has always brought up both prais and skepticism. Google search has a very specific mission, does it really need design? Joshua says only the designers are complaining, and he may be right, but think about the scores of people who make purchasing decisions based on design after all of the features and functionality between a series of products have been deemed equal. The one with the more appealing design will always win. Does google succeed despite bad design or does google succeed because their functionality is superior to their competition? You decide. Catch Derek Powazek at WebVisions 2006 as he presents The New Community: How Decentralized Conversation Empowers Individuals while Creating Community.
"The one with the more appealing design will always win." Whoah. Really depends on how you define "more appealing" which is the core problem with the recent string of editorials.
I think their design (or lack thereof) is what appealed to many people originally. It's a search engine. Why should it need dozens of links sprinkled all over the page? People come there to search, and don't need or want to be overwhelmed with possibilities.
Google is an interesting cases because they actually DO have design. It's information design, not so much visual design. I think the point is that even choosing not to spend time creating a visually designed experience is a choice and is reflective of the brand. Call Google the non-design if you will. It's still a design and part of the brand.
I think an interesting way to look at this is to ask 'what would Google do to it's search page if it had to compete with Google'. Will it get into a battle for the aesthetic high ground?
"Google search has a very specific mission, does it really need design?" Decoration isn't the entirety of design by far. Making something easy and comfortable to use is very much a matter of design.