Web applications are a growing trend in cloud computing but what makes the most popular applications, popular? I believe the answer lies in good design.
Google has revolutionized the web as we know it! What makes their brand so strong? What makes it identifiable? What makes it useful? Actually, three simple things!
Design for Usability
When you’re designing a strong web application, you need to make sure that the programmers are coding to your design and that you aren’t designing for their code. Computers don’t think like humans do, so in theory a perfectly fine functioning program might not make any sense to the casual computer user. Google recognizes this. While their page could be chock full of boolean queries and statistics, it isn’t. It has no more information than you need to identify the service and use the most basic functions. Anything beyond that you’ll have to look deeper which is great for casual users and even better for the geek who wants to feel like he’s discovering obscure features and tricks no one else has thought of.
Push Your Brand, Then the Product
In part two we taked about the cohesiveness of the 37signals product family. With Google we’ve got a slightly different variation, although the designs are so minimal they could belong to any group, the one thing that you’ll never forget when visiting Gmail.com or Google.com is their red, yellow, blue and green logo. Why? Because it’s the only thing the ever emphasize! Everything else comes secondary when it comes to building a strong and recognizable Google brand.
Let The Audience Work For You
This is probably one of the hardest design tricks to truly master but minimalism makes for simple, unforgettable experiences. That’s because there’s no confusion, little paradox and lots of room to come to ones own conclusions. That’s what Google has done by taking a minimal approach to their company brand. When I go to the Google.com to use Analytics, Apps or Docs, I start building certain expecations in my head before the applications ever even open. This is because I’m familiar with Google and I know that no matter what they produce it will be simple, minimal and functional. Google isnt beating that in my head, their brand conveys it rather unobtrusively.