Always learning

Company size

  • 1,141,000


  • Mountain View, CA


  • Technology

At Google curiosity is pervasive. Googlers at all levels are in constant search of a new idea, a better process, a way to optimize. That curiosity inspires experiments and iterations that help them align products to the needs of customers.

Few companies have figured out how to operationalize at scale as well as Google. Their Material design system helps them and those building on their platforms produce unified experiences with efficiency. Design Sprints, a process pioneered by the Google Ventures team, is used throughout the company by graduates of the Sprint Master Academy to unite engineering, product, and design and help them arrive at refined design solutions quickly, together.


I have walked into meetings and couldn’t tell who was the designer, an engineer, or product manager. We just pushed each other to do great work together on behalf of the customer.

Vanessa Cho

former UX Director, Google Apps

The focus on the customer is pervasive at Google. Thinking about “the next billion users,” executives travel the world to immerse themselves in the cultures of the areas of the world where their presence is still emerging. It would be easier to send a research team who would report back their findings, but the leadership at Google feel strongly that the only way to truly understand customers and new markets is to be there in person.

Global design languages can be so effective they inspire completely new products.

Sara Ortloff Khoury

Director of UX Design, Google

Richard Fulcher, Head of Material Design UX and Engineering at Google and one of the creators of Material Design, speaks about the origins of Google’s design system.

Google’s design system, called Material, is perhaps the most comprehensive and most used system in the world. It enables Google to design cohesive customer experiences across products and platforms while reducing design and technical debt.

From that point, [Material] got a lot bigger, when we realized it didn’t have to be a system just for Google.

Rich Fulcher

Head of Material Design UX and Engineering, Google

The design sprint process

It should come as no surprise the company that shaped and refined the design sprint process uses sprints in teams throughout the company. To further spread the practice of design sprints they’ve created a training program called the Google Sprint Master Academy that trains UX designers to run sprints with their team. Any function can join in a sprint, and are encouraged to do so.

1. Understand: Discover the business opportunity, the audience, the competition, the value proposition, and define metrics of success.

2. Diverge: Explore, develop, and iterate creative ways of solving the problem, regardless of feasibility.

3. Converge: Identify ideas that fit the next product cycle and explore them in further detail through storyboarding.

4. Prototype: Design and prepare prototype(s) that can be tested with people.

5. Test: Conduct 1:1 user testing with (5-6) people from the product’s primary target audience. Ask good questions.


A balance of power

The relationship between disciplines is viewed as a partnership, a model that builds trust and rapport.

We’re in a partnership between engineering, product and design. Together we share accountability for our work.

Vanessa Cho

former UX Director, Google Apps

Advocate for the user

People throughout the company immerse themselves in the cultures of their customers to build empathy and understanding. Designing for accessibility is a key part of this mindset, too. Teams conduct customer research up front in their process, defining their roadmap rather than validating it.

Margaret Lee, Director of User Experience Design, on teaching empathy to engineering teams.


Google recognizes there’s always room for improvement with their products. They iterate relentlessly and collect customer feedback to create great products.

We're continually iterating and getting feedback from users during the design process so we can reduce our risk yet increase our speed. The more feedback the better.

Vanessa Cho

former UX Director, Google Apps

Pursue product excellence

Google sets a high bar for product performance and experience.

Richard Fulcher, Head of Material Design UX and Engineering, talks about some of the most important benefits from creating a design system.

Org design

A hybrid approach, which is common in large enterprises, blends multiple organizational models and runs different models in parallel. In hybrid structures, an organization might position designers in a temporary cross-functional team to work on a focused project with a clear deadline. When they’re done, they return to the centralized design team.

Pervasive expertise

Google has a very collaborative culture where specialists in motion design, AR/VR, service design, interaction design, and more are free to lend their expertise to projects outside their assigned ones.

From centralized to decentralized

Design was centralized before Larry Page took over as CEO. Today, design is primarily distributed across the company and often embedded in product line teams.


  • Provides flexibility to tailor org structure to meet the immediate needs of the teams and the organization.


  • Hybrid org structures can get complex. It can be hard to operationalize process when teams are organized in complicated matrices.

Today team structure is a lot more complex, as over the years we've brought in way more specialists: industrial, interaction, motion...because you never need a 1x1 mapping of specialists to product teams, we're starting to see a matrixed org developed within the larger teams.

Margaret Lee

Director of User Experience Design, Google

Another common hybrid model strategy is to distribute designers in cross-functional teams, but pull them back together for design reviews, stand-ups, and fireside chats, which helps designers maintain peer connection even when part of isolated teams dominated by engineers.

Many large companies position the design system team as the hub of design culture to which embedded designers return for discussion about creating a unified customer experience across platforms and products.

Google is organized generally around product lines, each of which tends to have a cross-functional team pushing it forward. There are centralized groups—like the Material Design team—that act as a central service to the whole company. Another way to look at this is that Google (unlike, say, Apple) has no single “auteur”, but rather a collective of design leadership. They come together on a regular cadence to discuss both product and cultural issues and opportunities for improvement.

Google has Directors and VPs of UX that head up the many product lines. These in turn report into SVPs of their product area.

Career ladder

In their career ladder for designers and researchers, there’s a pathway for designers to advance their career as an individual contributor or enter a management role.

Companies within a company

Some products, like YouTube and Waze, maintain their own brand identity, and operate with some autonomy from core Google-branded products.

Tool stack

With unparalleled engineering resources, Google builds many of their tools themselves for project management, communication, and UX workflow.

Our UX engineers have built some amazing internal tools for our design and research teams.

Margaret Lee

Director of User Experience Design, Google

How Google Uses InVision

  • Rapid prototyping of new concepts
  • Socializing design

Transform your team with InVision. Here’s how.