Google design training

Picture of Sophia Petrillo's frowning face from The Golden Girls.
Picture it! Mountain View, 2010
Barely one year into Obama’s first term. People were listening to Rihanna sing about finding love in a hopeless place. The iPhone 3GS was the hottest thing.

Google had far more design challenges than designers to tackle them.
So I created a hands-on workshop to empower non-designers across the company.

Googlers working on design problems at a whiteboard.

The design problem: How could we empower people across Google to do their own basic design work?

Googlers were keen to learn design tools. We needed to elevate design knowledge. This workshop was a Trojan horse: Participants would learn Adobe Fireworks—a standard design tool—by working through exercises that helped them become more design-aware. They became better partners to the UX team.

Fireworks template showing a basic visual design activity.

I taught over 700 non-designers about basic visual & user interface design, user experience research, and design process. This two-day, intensive hands-on design workshop featured a curriculum tightly coupled with the prototyping tool. Through exercises, group projects, and design critiques, participants elevated their knowledge and practiced protoyping across a range of problems.

A concept from a crash course in visual design, HCI, and product design.

This program was a small part of Google's design renaissance. It ultimately became the most popular Googler-run educational course. Working closely with Google’s great engineering education team, we worked to scale and align the program with Google’s long-term engineering needs.

Participants crowded around a laptop critiquing a design.

An example of a completed visual design exercise from the workshop.

Design language exercise.