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The Google Method is a podcast exploring the design stories behind Google products and the people who make them.

Oct 16, 2018

In this episode, host Travis Neilson interviews August de los Reyes, a UX director at Google, about considering a product’s cultural equity—its noneconomic and nonfunctional benefits—and how that influences a user’s state of being. De los Reyes also touches on everything from game and car design to the Eames’ Powers of Ten to illustrate how zooming in and out of designed systems can help bridge the gap between the designer’s intent, the functionality of a product, and the user’s emotional response. A few highlights:

On the challenge of elegant design
“Elegance is complexity described in a simple way... I don't think simplicity is an end in itself. There can be things that are simple but not engaging or valuable. On the flip side, there are things that are just too complex to be meaningful. Where design can add value is through elegance—taking complex systems or complex ideas and presenting them in a very simple way.”

On the power of cultural equity
“What helps drive a consumer towards one car rather than another? I’d argue that it’s neither its functional or economic value, but rather its cultural equity. And what generates that cultural equity is design.”

On what designers can learn from video games
“The interaction of game design is so well crafted, down to painstaking detail at the mechanical level. It's my hope that we can bridge that kind of care and thoughtfulness into other kinds of software.”

Handy info and links for this episode:

August de los Reyes is a UX director in the search and assistant organization at Google, where he leads an effort called Ecosystem UX. Before joining Google he was head of design at Pinterest and Microsoft Xbox.