Johannes' blog

Favorite App Design: Google Docs

The other day, I had to answer two questions about my favorite product design.

Present an app you consider extremely well-designed. What would be 3 promising features to improve it even more?

I am a big fan of Google Docs. I made writing and note-taking a personal habit that helps me to structure my thoughts and to evaluate my thinking. I like the product for 3 reasons in particular:

I still think that there is room for improvement. In the following, I am going to list 3 potential improvements that would improve the user experience of Google Docs for me:

Which idea would you implement first and why? How would you measure success?

I would focus on a solution for scientific referencing within Google Docs. I think aside from the user experience point of view this would also add benefit towards acquiring new users from the scientific community, and it would help authors of documents to better integrate scientific research in their documents. On the other hand, there are two things in particular that I would weigh against this feature:

Measuring success of this feature would be determined predominantly by its usage (sessions where references were used). Google’s B2C business model is driven by user engagement, as they are offering their services for free to earn money through performance and awareness advertising. Hence, every product in Google’s B2C line up is focused on increasing user engagement as the company’s profit is depending on how much time users spend with Google services. Although GDocs is not advertising, it is a gateway product for Google’s GDrive cloud services and thereby increases users’ ad exposure indirectly. Another way of measuring success, would be through measuring the engagement of GSuite users in particular. Here you could also just look at the portion of documents that use references, which belong to a GSuite company to determine the importance for GSuite users.