Tag Archives: google

World Usability Day 2007: Making It Easy!

World Usability Day 2007 logo
November 8 saw this year's worldwide No. 1 usability event – the World Usability Day, conceived by the international Usability Professionals Association (UPA) and carried out in 23 countries by local UPA chapters or other interested parties. I took part in the event in Hamburg, Germany, which attracted over 300 people from industry, administration, and academia. My invited talk on Google User Experience was the final element of this great and well organized event and was very well-received by the approximately 150 people in the audience. Exciting!

New Job, new City, new Country

Swiss FlagStarting today, I've got a new job. I'll be working as User Experience Designer in Google's European Engineering Center in Zürich, Switzerland[GP:GoogleZRH]. Quite a change: a new job, a new city, a new country – with a somewhat similar, but also rather different language. Germans can easily be fooled into believing that things in Switzerland work just like they work in Germany because of a common cultural heritage and the language. Switzerland is not a member of the EU, for example, which means that we had to get stay and work permits etc. Lots of things had to be organized (and some still have not been dealt with properly): relocation, stay permit, health insurance, all the other insurances. Google was very supportive with these things. I'm very much looking forward to all the challenging projects that lie ahead Smile, and I sincerely hope we'll manage to "arrive" and settle down in Zürich easily.

Design of the organization and design quality

In an interview with Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path, Irene Au, Director of User Experience at Google, talks about her background, the way Google as a company works and innovates, and what she thinks is important to be able to ship great products:

I think it?s really important to be very pragmatic about what you?re building, and how quickly you?re building [it]. There?s a balance [that must be struck when pursuing] something that?s really perfect. When you?re innovating very rapidly, sometimes you just don?t even know how things will be used and what [they?ll] be used for. So sometimes it?s just important to get it out there. Being able to adapt to the conditions and the environment?that was kind of a survival skill that I had to learn.


There are so many things that are so fascinating about Google. The way this company is designed, the whole organization is completely inverted. There?s incredible empowerment in all levels of the company. A lot of start-ups, they start out flat, but then as they grow as companies, they become more hierarchical and more silo-ed. Google has done an amazing job of avoiding that. So the company still operates in a very flat way. People are very much empowered, and there?s a lot of freedom and flexibility to explore and pursue your passions. If you really believe in something, you can absolutely go make things happen. That [makes it] very easy to build things.

I think a company’s setup and design process are vital for the resulting design quality.When companies start giving engineers and designers freedom and power to innovate, trusting them rather than controlling their every move, and handing over responsibility for complete tasks, people will be motivated to create truly great products.