HCI @ Google

I found out about a talk by Josh Mittelman (HCI Engineer from Google) at Rutgers SCILS building, and talked a couple of coworkers from work into going. Josh covered some bits about Google’s approach to HCI and showed examples from some projects. Things to take away:

  • Main Google UI metaphor is search results list, STRONG emphasis on “results listed in relevant order” as the UI metaphor (over shading, or visual cues)
  • i18n: Google products are supposed to be internationalized within 90 days.
  • Data Silos: Josh made a point that users are interested in accessing information in a task based manner — they don’t care which data silo that information currently resides in, nor are they interested in how Google has built services (e.g. maps, music search) to access them — they just want their answers

I was surprised at how many of the attendees decided that Josh (who admitted to only having been at Google for ~ 1 year) was the personification of Google corp. A lot of very general, and in some cases very leading questions got thrown out. He handled most of them well, but I was surprised that in an academic setting that the tone of some of the “questions” was almost hostile. Sour grapes that Google types have a reputation for combining academic style fun & freedoms and still get paid good money?