In April 2011, Larry Page took the reins as Google’s CEO. He didn’t waste any time getting down to business. On his very first day on the job, Page launched an incredibly ambitious effort to redesign the company’s main products, including search, maps, and mail. He wanted them to be beautiful--Google had never been known for its visual polish--but he also wanted them to be cohesive, more like a true software suite than a jumble of disparate digital tools. In the years since, Google’s products have improved leaps and bounds, aesthetically speaking, largely while working within the same shared design language. Here’s how they’re doing it.
The rare glimpse into the company’s design process comes in the form of two documents--"Visual Assets guidelines"--freshly shared on Behance. Compiled over the last 18 months by senior graphic designer Roger Oddone and art director Christopher Bettig, along with designers Alex Griendling, Jefferson Cheng, Yan Yan, and Zachary Gibson, the guidelines focus on iconography, covering both broader principles and pixel-level details as they relate to both app icons and UI elements. The aim, an introductory blurb notes, is to set down the "solid, yet flexible, set of guidelines that have been helping Google’s designers and vendors to produce high-quality work that helps strengthen Google’s identity."