Last Thursday, I had dinner at Cafe Royle, Google’s canteen. Google hosted a Girl Geek Dinners birthday party (strapline: definitely computes) to celebrate their third year anniversary.
Girl Geek Dinners are a little known phenomenon. Sarah Blow, a London-based non-profit organization, started the Girl Geek Dinners three years ago. Now, girl geeks all over the world meet up for a meal.
One employee said that Google’s London offices are located in Victoria, where everything is just a tube stop away. Google makes up for this by offering a wide range of services to help with daily life. Google canteen offers free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This could be argued to encourage long hours. While all the Google employees I spoke with admitted to working long hours, they all appreciated the company’s work/life balance. They could also take time to swim in the afternoon or stay late at work.
The food was delicious, and I then went to get a cup tea (leaf-tea made in a Bodum Pot). I discovered the chocolate station. I was unable to fit in a birthday cake after eating one mini-sized Green & Black’s bar. They were delicious, and I am currently in a cupcake phase. A shop in Seven Dials (Covent Garden), which sells delicious, huge cupcakes, is located.
After dinner, Karen from Google spoke on goal-directed design of websites using YouTube for Mobile as an example. This was relevant to project management, particularly scope-setting and requirements gathering. She suggested that designers should consider what a person could gain from using a well-designed product. For example, people want to write letters, not save Word (or Google Docs!) documents.
Google designers also use personas to target their designs. They create profiles of’real’ people to avoid self-referential design and design by committee. This helps to avoid design by committee or design by self-referential design, i.e. putting functionality in because it’s cool, but not because it’s beneficial to the end user. This was a great idea. I might think about creating project personas to help me focus on the benefits my end users get from my software projects.
This was my first GGD event. I didn’t think I would be geeky enough for it. I met some programmers, but I also met a marketer and a few other people who were just as technical as I was. This gave me the confidence to return. Although the events Sarah has announced are quite technical, I will keep an eye on Sarah’s mailing list for any interesting information and let you know how it goes.