Larry Page asked them via IM “if you were to redesign Google, what would it look like?” They wondered if it was a joke. He never talked to them. They knew that if it had a chance to be a real thing, they had to move quickly.
He asked them about the redesign in January, became CEO in April and told them to redesign Google and “launch this summer.” (at which point they looked for the absolute last day of Summer – Fall Equinox).
The namespace for Google projects that have anything to do with space or fast are pretty much taken, so they named the project Kennedy, since he made the call to go to the moon. Google+ had an imminent launch (April 1), but they took the design and embraced it, which the press took as “Google+ redesigns Google!”
The design was created in a vacuum, but once it was approved, it had to be taken back to all the groups and get everyone on board to create the redesign across all product in an incredibly short timeline. It was hard for the designers to test the designs back and forth, so they created a static HTML prototype that everyone could use. They could add a grid, change fonts, etc., and test it across all of the properties. They thought about a Google font, but they shelved it for the redesign. They added the consolidated product toolbar. Button gradient – they made a gradient that designers would notice, but nobody else would (218ms fade – Nicholas’ birthday). Supported modern browsers with degradation for older browsers.
Google+ was a big part of the redesign and all the products unified to help prop it up. It was not Google’s intention to create a lot of isolated products and with the redesign they were able to bring the products together. They created a flexible design that would work across all screen sizes.
They created the prototype, as well as a deck of design specs. Because people were already taking the CSS and applying it to their products, even as it was changing. So they created an HTML style guide that could be used and had all the design included. This help have a really clean rollout.
The scope of the project was huge, but the prototype/style guide and enforcing office hours for all teams helped get the project completed on time. There wasn’t push back because even the teams that were considered “out of scope” jumped in and completed the project with everyone else.
Sunday, March 11 at South by Southwest Interactive Conference, Austin, TX
Google Panel Consisting of Evelyn Kim (Visual Designer for Maps), Jon Wiley (Lead Designer forGoogle Search), Michael Leggett (Design Lead, Google Apps & Gmail), Nicholas Jitkoff (User Experience Designer for Chrome), Chris Wiggins (Google Creative Lab)