Is It Good Design? Well, Yeah.

We ask people who design and build Google products what they consider to be good design.

What is good design? Well, it depends who you ask.

In the words of UX Researcher Izzie Zahorian, “Oftentimes, coming into contact with good design makes me question whether something has been designed at all.” Not too far from the Ramsian doctrine that states good design is “as little design as possible.”

But what is good, really? And good for who? And what do the objects we uphold as paragons of design say about us? We spoke with designers, researchers, and others responsible for the user experience across Google products about what they consider to be good design. From corn cob skewers to a deck of playing cards—we’ll let their responses speak for themselves.


Casio F91-W

“I like the economy of its design—it doesn't try to be more than it needs to. It's inexpensive, lasts forever, and as an added bonus, matches any outfit! Sometimes I'm tempted by the doo-hickey-ness of a smart-watch but at the end of the day anything on my wrist that does more than tell the time feels excessive.” Philippe Cao Senior Visual Designer


“Because each part is essential. The peel protects the juice, and is useful for recipes or sprucing up a drink. Its segments are perfect snacking size, each containing at least one seed, by evolutionary design: to increase the chance of being spread to new places. Good design to me is when every element has a purpose. Nothing is for nothing. Oftentimes, coming into contact with good design makes me question whether something has been designed at all.”

Izzie Zahorian Experience Researcher




“It does the job it needs to do without trying to be anything else. Low maintenance. No precious features. It’s intuitive to use, honest, and long-lasting. Good design, to me, is inclusive, functional, and desirable. As soon as you take one of these qualities away, the design neglects someone or group, some ability to deliver on functionality. It’s no longer good.” Rick Jones Visual Designer

Corn Cob Holders

“Because they screw in nicely, allowing you to grab the cob before it cools down, and make it easier to roll in butter. You can mix and match, and they last for decades.”

Andy Stewart Visual Design Lead



Polaroid SX-70

“It distills complexity into the press of a single button. Press the shutter and the photo develops before your eyes. Magic. Good design, to me, is attuned to context. It can be optimizing for accessibility, reducing environmental impact, or bringing joy. There's no checklist, no boundary, it just can't happen in a vacuum.”

Isaac Blankensmith Hardware Designer

NYC Subway Poles

“The new split poles on subway trains are great. They show that paying a little attention to something that's usually taken for granted can improve daily life for thousands of people. Good design, to me, is applying creativity that is considerate of others, in places where you don't expect it.”

John Cassidy Co-founder/Designer at Area 120




“It mirrors a robust design system with interaction consistency and coherence across styles. Watching my kids play, I appreciate the modular nature of the pieces, and their endless combinations. Good design is a partnership between a voice and the vehicle of expression—can it help us say or experience something deeply personal while still remaining authentic and distinct?”

Andrew Ng Senior Interaction Designer


“They're utilitarian feet marshmallows—well-ventilated, hose-me-down, foot-forming, all-day comfort. Controversial in their aesthetic, but honest in their purpose. Good design is a healthy mix of the familiar and the future.”

Pat Iadanza Visual Designer



Single-Knob Microwave

“The best microwave I ever owned had no buttons or LCD displays or touchscreens—simply one knob. You turn the knob to the desired time and it starts immediately. Absolutely brilliant UX design in that it was simple, accessible, and infallible.”

Tyler Freeman Software Engineer

Sony Walkman

“It embraces its function. The color, the waterproof latch, the rubber buttons. As a kid, for whatever reason, it was the first time I remember being conscious that our things don't just exist—but are designed. To me, good design is when something is expressed so simply and effortlessly that it passes for common sense.”

Damien Correll Design Lead



Electric Kettle

“Good design, to me, is something simple and self-explanatory, like an electric kettle. Only one button, it's easy to plug and play. Its shape is obvious—no instructions needed.”

Hagar Ben Yishay Interaction Designer

Cast Iron Pan

“As a minimalist, I seek tools that are multi-purpose in nature. Cast iron pans are timeless, durable, accessible, and multifunctional. Sear, roast, weapon against intruders—they do it all! Good design, to me, is all of the above.”

Emily Blank Art Director




“There's almost nothing superficial. It's engineered for durability and low weight, so everything is there for a reason. The form follows its function, yet there is still lots of freedom in its design. It's the elegant and smooth synthesis of functions that can make a bike beautiful.”

Roman Pohorecki Interaction Designer

Playing Cards

“Seemingly unchanged for decades, they are a reliable pastime—no matter time or place. Held in the hands of a casino dealer or a magician (which, full disclosure, I also am), it’s a deck of endless possibilities. Good design is long lasting, and enduring—it allows for new conditions and new solutions in conversation. It has room for play.”

Brad Aldridge Senior Visual Designer




“The hammer is a good design due to its general durability, usefulness, and effectiveness. Good—even outstanding—design is mindful of matters concerning equity, the environment, the economy, and human development. Hammers offer both astounding simplicity and versatility.”

Darien Henry UX Designer