Carrying out an Internet search is, pretty much, straightforward. The user types in the keyword(s) in the search engine, clicks the search button, and the results are displayed on the web page. However, If the user is using Google to carry out an internet search, they are in for an interesting experience.
The year was 1999 and the Internet was still in its infancy. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, attended the ‘Burning Man’ festival and wanted to celebrate the event on Google. Larry and Sergey hit upon a brainwave to modify the Google logo by placing a stick-figure drawing behind the second ‘O’ in Google. The modified logo alerted users to the fact that Larry and Sergey had participated in the festival.
This gave birth to the first Google doodle and set a trend where the website celebrated notable events and holidays by artistically modifying the Google logo.
The doodles have ‘evolved’ from celebrating American holidays and events such as Independence Day and Thanksgiving, to commemorating international events such as the Soccer World Cup or Albert Einstein’s birthday.
Google now has a dedicated team of designers who bring to life events and celebrations on the homepage by designing a doodle. The team leaders of ‘doodlers’ at Google include Jennifer Hom (designed the doodle for Gandhi’s birthday), Ryan Germick (designed the Sesame Street doodles), Michael Lopez (designed the Charles Darwin doodle), and Susie Sahim (designed the 2009 Earth Day doodle). Their inspiration for choosing to draw doodles as a career can be summed up in what Ryan Germick said, “I drew when I was a kid and I never stopped. That’s it.”
Since kids love to express themselves with pencils and color sticks, Google has a “Doodle for Google” competition for K-12 students. The competition has been running for three years in the United States.
Students who participate in the competition have to draw a doodle inspired by a theme. The judging process then takes the 400 State Finalists and whittles it down 1 National winner. The winning doodle will be displayed live on the Google homepage for 24 hours.
The Google doodles have transformed the ordinary internet search into a fun and celebratory user experience. The doodles have become so popular that users now anticipate each new doodle. Doodles have also become somewhat of a collector’s item among avid Google users.
From being a design experiment to communicating a brand personality, doodles have come a long way with Google.