Google I/O (I/O stands for Input/Output) is a developer conference put on by Google each year. This year, given that the restrictions of COVID still around, the event was offered online and for free. While its name makes you think it’s strictly for developers, it’s not. This event gives anyone the opportunity to hear more about Google technology and what’s coming next.

Our Associate Director of Design, Nicole Niederhofer, attended this year. Here are a few highlights:

Google Keynote

The Google Keynote was 2 hours long, so we can’t give you a full list of what was talked about but here are a few we are excited to share:

  • Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) will be rolling out all sorts of updates to better collaborate within documents. As an agency with collaboration as a core value, we are excited to see how this helps our team provide better solutions to our clients.
  • One of the rollouts with Workspace is an inclusive language aid, for example, if you write “chairman” it will give you the option to replace it with “chairperson.”
  • Google is using AI to push experiences even further for users’ experience. This includes new updates to Google Maps and Translate, including creating a more personalized Google Maps experience. 
  • Google Shopping will see some new innovations including Shopping Graph. Shopping Graph will grab information from websites including prices, reviews, videos, SKUs, and inventory data to allow users to purchase from multiple listings. This will also allow users to go from inspiration to purchase within Google Lens, Images, and YouTube. 

Check out the full keynote here.

Core Web Vitals

There were multiple opportunities to learn more about Core Web Vitals. One of our favorite webinars was an open Q&A with Google engineers and product managers leading the initiatives. Here are a few tips we found useful:

  • Tools like Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights will help give you a baseline as to where to start with ranking your website but these are lab-based tools, meaning they will provide simulated data local to you, where tools like Google Search Console will give you actual data from your users.
  • When accounting for results, the web vitals will be based on 75% of your user base. This gives a little wiggle room for any issues. In addition, they specifically mentioned this will filter out some slow website speeds.

As far as fixing your rating here are a few tips:

  • There is not a one size fits all approach to improving your score, it is best to look into your website results and start with the largest issue.
  • That being said, they said across the board they are seeing LCP as a big opportunity for a lot of sites, which means… get those images smaller!
  • Websites will get a boost in rankings when the web vitals are met (in the green) but you will not get an additional boost if you improve even further when you are already in the green. 

Cognitive Accessibility 

Accessibility has been top of mind for Mad Fish these last few years. We were excited to see an “Ask Me Anything Session” on Understanding W3C’s Cognitive Accessibility Guidelines featuring Google UX designers and how they implement the guidelines. Here are a few tips:

  • Provide alternatives for numbers. Some users may have challenges with numbers. The guideline suggests you pair numbers with secondary information if you can. In addition, display numbers the same throughout your website. For example, if you have a weather app you would display the temperature as well as show an icon on what type of weather it is to help users understand what type of clothing they may wear. 
  • Provide multiple ways to understand the content. Some users understand data better through visuals and some more through reading or hearing the copy. When you provide more than one way, this allows users to understand what is being presented. An example would be providing the copy and having supporting imagery or illustrations to further explain the copy.
  • Create websites that allow all users to enjoy. One user posed the question, “Could you create variations of your website, one website that follows accessibility guidelines and one that is not following guidelines.” This would cause some users to feel left out. 1 in 4 users have a disability, it is better to create one website to showcase your brand than to potentially leave out part of your audience. 

Video in Google Search 

Google has created structured data for videos. This will help your videos rank better in Google search results and Discover. Using clip and seek markup will allow you to timestamp when topics are being discussed in a video. This great for the user, allowing them to skip to the areas that are important. It also allows Google to rank your video. Check out the Google Keynote and you can see this in action! 

Google I/O was 3-full days of webinars which can be viewed here but don’t worry if you don’t have the time to watch them all, our team is staying up to date with all of the exciting new innovations coming from Google.