Spring 2019


Welcome to our first major dispatch in 2019. The new year might not be that new anymore, but there’s lots of fresh happenings here at Google Design—starting with a big story on Waymo. Find out how the company’s designers built a brand new UX playbook, to help their self-driving cars better communicate with the people riding inside. We also just published an interview with the always-insightful John Maeda on agile leadership, and the delicate dance of managing designers and developers. Maeda’s annual Design in Tech Report is something we look forward to every spring, and this year’s edition didn’t disappoint, with its high praise for Material Design—more on that below. Inside, we’ve also got deep insights from UX Director Margaret Lee, who penned an essay on how her immigrant upbringing reframed her take on leadership. Pop into any (or all 🤗) of these stories, and don’t miss the font and motion design goodies sprinkled throughout. Think of it as a mental spring awakening.

—The Editors

AI at the wheel

Ride along with Ryan Powell, head of UX at Waymo One, as he explains the central user experience challenge with self-driving cars: designing an ultra-trustworthy user journey that puts passengers at ease. As Powell puts it: “We’ve had to rethink all the micro-interactions that happen between riders and human drivers.” Dig into the article to learn about why Waymo’s screens render people differently than vehicles, what a “status layer” communicates, and why the car’s audio is composed in the key of E.


Three cheers for SPAN Helsinki speaker Linda Bergroth, whose Zero Waste Bistro (where impeccable design meets repulpable cups) won the sustainability prize at the 2019 Frame Awards.

“Google has devised a Chrome extension to watch your back.” Wired chronicles the Chrome team’s ongoing efforts to design a safer and more intuitive browsing experience.

“Material is deep. It is conceptual. And it borrows so many classic design ideas that we’ve lost.” In his fifth annual Design in Tech Report, John Maeda calls Material the design tool with the greatest impact.

Current obsession

Fancy a Miró in your kitchen, or a Vermeer up the block? The new Camera tab in the Google Arts & Culture app lets you hang virtual masterpieces anywhere.

What’s new on Google Design

Google Fonts announced support of both Simplified and Traditional Chinese fonts—making tens of thousands of characters readily available to developers and designers alike.

Slide, swipe, zoom! Motion is one of Material’s key principles. Master it with this guide and basic sticker sheet by designer Jonas Naimark.

Google UX Director Margaret Lee reflects on her reluctant path to becoming a leader, and ruminates on the meaning of inclusivity at work.

The founders of Punanimation—a directory of women, trans, and non-binary motion designers—drop by Design Notes to talk about diversity in animation. Listen in.

5 things to love right now

Hello to Shannon May! Based in San Francisco, Shannon is a designer working on Stickers for Android Messages. Here’s her take on five things to love: 1. Anxy 2. Weekender Supply 3. Jon Han's AR tweet 4. Cosmicomics 5. Ori Toor

Before you go

May all your open-plan offices feel this tranquil. Artwork by Morgane Sanglier, Google Visual Designer.