Alex Ainslie – the leading designer of Google Chrome – gave an interview to theinternal portal The Keyword, in which he told about the “backstage” of the first in ten years, the great redesign of Chrome.
If you use the Google Chrome browser, you may have noticed some changes that occurred to him last week. Indeed, Chrome refreshed the design of the interface to its tenth anniversary. What does the main product designer say about this – Alex Ainslie?
So, first, what has changed in Chrome? Why was it necessary and why now?
We presented a major update to the Google Chrome browser on all platforms, which brought the product to Google’s overall design code – Material Design. The current update includes not only a new approach to the form of elements, but also to color, icons and typography. And why now? – Because a decade, in our opinion, is an ideal moment for such a step.
Many people (far from the design of interfaces) perceive a modern browser as a window to the world of the Internet. Is it really that simple?
One of the main directions of our work is to find ways to simplify the browsing of web pages. And we think about this simplification rather than as a goal, but as a strategy to make Chrome more convenient. For example, a new simplified tab bar allows you to quickly find a specific tab when too many are open.
Also, after studying the behavior of Chrome users around the world, we learned that recognizing URLs by words and symbols is a difficult task. Therefore, we simplified the text that you see in the address bar so that you can understand it better.
A simple interface also allows us to notice more noticeably when a user visits a dangerous or deceptive site. This is an example of such values of Chrome as simplicity and security, which in our case complement each other.
Your team has been working on a new design all year. What problems did you face?
One of the key tasks of our design is that people experience a similar experience, using our product regardless of platform. This means that Chrome should look and behave in a similar way. Of course, we maintain the identity of the operating system in the issues of managing program windows, ordering buttons, typography, and so on. We also take care that these features are combined with Google’s design code, because we want Chrome to feel at home on all your devices and match the values of ” Google’s “.
Our project team is divided into several offices – in Mountain View, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Munich and Paris. Thus, in addition to thinking about improving the user interface of Chrome, we are still thinking about how to support the cultural interaction of employees in all offices and different time zones.
Have the design principles of your team changed in ten years?
We still rely on one of the earliest rules: “content, not Chrome”, which is based on the idea of designing a browser interface so as to highlight exactly the web content. Also, our core values are still preserved, although in a more extended form. For example, in the case of an increase in overall speed and load of pages, now we are still thinking about improving productivity, as about giving people the opportunity to do familiar things in a faster way. Improved Omnibox, which combines search and address string into one, is an excellent illustration of this.
Is there such a moment that you are most proud of during your eight years in the team?
I like that the team of Chrome takes on complex and long-term projects. For example, help in the transition of the Internet to a secure HTTPS connection protocol lasted many years. By improving the connection indicator for marking sites, we are convinced that design can protect people and contribute to the change of the entire ecosystem. I mean, it’s not some element in the Google Chrome user interface that I’m so proud of, but more global things that affect people around the world.
My translation of the original article “Redesigning Chrome: An interview with Chrome’s lead designer” on the internal portal The Keyword.