I’ll be examining the ways in which Google’s philosophy focuses on the users’ identity and self, using the 10 “truths” that google professes.
With my experience working at start-ups and technology companies, I’ll also be looking at how Google’s “truths” have come to revolutionize the way that start-ups are made, and companies become successful.
1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.
Not only at the top of the list, this is also the #1 tenant for any modern successful company. Any start-up these days has to focus on the user, which has led to the adaptation of user-centric, “agile” development techniques, which focus on responding to users’ needs as fast as the developers can push code.
From the “Agile Manifesto”:
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.
Customer satisfaction is important because happy customers are more likely to “be loyal and make repeat orders” (source), which leads to higher revenue for the company. The old style is caring about the money. The new style is caring about the people.
2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
People might think of Google as a mail, maps, phone, video, and search company, but the company professes otherwise:
Our dedication to improving search helps us apply what we’ve learned to new products, like Gmail and Google Maps. Our hope is to bring the power of search to previously unexplored areas, and to help people access and use even more of the ever-expanding information in their lives.
Even in the area of Google Mail, the real focus is making mail quickly searchable, and gaining insight on users to make their searches more relevant. Amazon does the same thing for sales. Apple does the same thing for personal computing. Each of the modern behemoths has a focus on one sector or technology that they’ve decided to excel at, and that’s what pushes them above the competition.
But this is really about catering to the user. If a company can do something better than before, the real winner here is the consumer, who suddenly has more, cheaper, faster technology to be satisfied with.
3. Fast is better than slow.
What is more satisfying than going fast? Americans are all about speed. Look at our pizza, our obsession with cars, planes, and the fact that “time is money”. Code, whether on our computers or in our browsers, reflects this.
According to that last link (which is according to Google), 400 milliseconds is long enough for a user to become impatient with a website. Organicdonut.com, for my machine, takes 271ms to start loading content, and a full 853ms to show all of the content. Google, on the other hand, takes just 97ms to start loading content, and less than a millisecond to be done. Google utilizes some interesting tricks to accomplish this feat.
This is, again, a reflection of the first point. The user’s experience is priority #1.
4. Democracy on the web works.
Having a lot of users to make happy means that a company can quickly learn how to make a lot of users happy.
On that note, data mining is king. According to that source:
A May 2011 study by McKinsey Global Institute suggests that retailers analyzing large data sets to their fullest could increase operating margins by 60 percent and the health care industry could reduce annual costs by 8 percent or $200 billion.
And if you want to get a piece of that:
According to the report, a shortfall of about 140,000 to 190,000 individuals with analytical expertise is projected by 2018.
How better to teach a machine to make users happy than to look through data, something that machines are really, really good at.
5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
How better to make your customers happy than to make sure you’re with them 24 hours a day?
With this, google tracks traffic:
Google tracks your voice.
Google tracks you, and it uses that data to focus on you and make you happy. Customer satisfaction, 24 hours a day.
6. You can make money without doing evil.
“Don’t be evil”, Google’s unofficial motto, is something that permeates their company to this day. Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and even Google have been accused of unsavory business practices, but Google is the only one of those that has been declared “pure of heart” by the US Government.
Americans are so into feeling good about our purchases that we’ve invented words to describe it. We don’t want to buy from an evil company. So to make a user satisfied (rule #1!), the company itself must be “good”. Mistrust only breeds mistrust.
7. There’s always more information out there.
8. The need for information crosses all borders.
9. You can be serious without a suit.
The startup community has known this for years. Happy workers = more productivity = happy users. Gone are the days of dress codes and uniforms.
10. Great just isn’t good enough.
Because what user wants a great product when it can be better. Looking back on studying apple, we know that
You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. (source)
User satisfaction is king, and the only companies that survive are the ones that know this. Look at how long Facebook refused their IPO. The new wave is to keep control as long as possible, so that a company doesn’t have to deal with shareholder pressure. That means unhappy customers, and in today’s world, that means death.