Nick Baum, product designer

WhereBerry

In January 2011, I left Google to found WhereBerry. The idea was to give people a shared bucket list, which they could use to keep track of restaurant, movies, concerts and more. I got funded by YCombinator and launched in May 2011, to positive reviews.

WhereBerry ultimately failed to attract enough users to keep working on it, but building a social site from the ground up was an invaluable learning experience.

Chrome extensions

After joining the Chrome team in September 2008, I started and launched Chrome’s extension system. Today this system has tens of thousands of extensions, many with several million active users, and forms the basis of Chrome’s app system.

Our goal was to design a system that let developers create great extensions, but preserved Chrome’s core values of speed, security and simplicity. We interviewed several dozen top extension developer to understand their needs and achieve the right balance.

Along with the extension system itself, I was responsible for designing the install experience and extension gallery, which has now grown into the Chrome Web Store.

Chrome features

Alongside my work on extensions, I was also responsible for the development of new frontend features in Chrome. Notable features I spearheaded include bookmark sync, translation, spell checking and autofill.

Chrome’s philosophy when it comes to new features is somewhat unusual. We only add a feature if it will be used by a very large number of users, on the order of 75% to 80%. And we focus on reducing the interface footprint of each feature to its absolute minimum. Chrome features should stay out of sight and just work.

Android

I worked on the Android team during the year leading up to the launch of the first Android device, the T-Mobile G1. This was a difficult project for me, as the team was ruthlessly focused on paring down functionality in order to hit a firm launch date.

Though the G1 ended up with a lot of rough edges, it was a good lesson in shipping under tight constraints, and I’ve been very glad to see Android’s progress over the last few years.

Google Reader

In 2006, I led the major redesign of Google Reader that firmly established it as the top feed reader. This redesign significantly altered the growth rate of the product, taking it from tens of thousands of active users to over a million.

Reader had launched shortly before I joined the team, and had established a small but dedicated user base. Through in-depth user studies, we realized that there are many different ways to consume news. We designed the new interface to support these different modes of reading.

In 2007, we took Reader out of beta by adding search and internationalizing.

Simple Window Saver

Simple Window Saver is a Chrome extension that makes it easy to keep track of groups of saved tabs.

I include it here because it has grown organically to 8k users and gotten great reviews (5 stars over 123 reviews) entirely on the strength of its interface.

"This is the only tab saver I can find that will allow you to add tabs to your saved tab list. This is brilliant as there is always a chance you want to add to your list. Yes the simplest but the best well done and thank you!"

The Simple Window Saver source code is available on Github.

LogPulse

LogPulse was an app I built to keep track of client-side Javascript errors. I experimented with giving the sign-up flow a friendly, conversational style, injecting some personality in an otherwise rather dry product.

FlixWithMe

FlixWithMe was a small app that let you match your queue to your friends’ queues. The design gave me a fun opportunity to play with Netflix’ iconic envelope design.

© 2012 Nick Baum. Here be Dragons.