I got round to watching a presentation about the culture of Google last night. It was delivered at Stanford by Marissa Mayer and it was interesting all the way through, punchy (and a little geeky – that giggle!) but not slick.
A few things stuck for me.
Firstly, the use of ‘AB testing’ as a final arbiter in design decisions. Using real, live users to test alternatives for you seems very sensible, even if it does make me think of lab rats. I’d extend this as far as possible, even where there was not a design dilemma. Let the user shape your software by their behaviour!
Also, regarding early questions about monetizing Google, she invoked the principle of focussing on users since advertisers follow users and money follows the advertisers.
Finally, the strong points she made about 40 minutes in regarding social networking. The potential is huge but Orkut sucks and MySpace, despite its abominations, seems to have everyone awestruck.