Google Chrome has been undergoing a substantial redesign over the past several months with the implementation of Material Design 2.0 and the browser's lead designer, Alex Ainslie, has now explained at least some of the ideas that led to those changes. According to Ainslie, the company is always looking for ways to 'simplify' browsing and actually views simplification as more of a strategy than an end goal. The goals accomplished in keeping with the strategy are, in turn, fed by global user research. For example, rather than showing the title of a given webpage when a lot of those are opened, the tab bar been reworked to show each page as an icon. Separation is created by lines and the top or current tab is highlighted by being shown in a brighter coloration with a very slight pronouncement in text and icon size.
Those aren't the only changes driven by the user feedback and research either. In that same vein of simplification, the URL bar will now only show a simplified version of the full website address. Simultaneously, the URL will only have additional information if the website could be considered dangerous for whatever reason. Drawing attention to the URL bar with a bright red warning label informs users that something may be wrong and should be more easily noticed. Removing the previously-implemented green-colored 'secured' UI that also used to occupy that space is useful in that regard since it no longer distracts users with information that they don't necessarily need. Those simplifications and the design direction are intended to help users understand various aspects of the websites they visit better while also showing unsafe behavior more clearly. What's more, the changes are engineered to accomplish that while specifically putting the focus on each page's content instead of on Chrome itself. That's a central design tenant that Ainslie says was started at the beginning of Chrome and remains in place, in addition to the goal of allowing users to browse more efficiently. That's the driving force behind features like Chrome's universal search and URL bar - the Omnibox - or its incoming changes which will show images alongside Omnibox suggestions as a user types.
At the same time, Ainslie notes, the team behind the browser has to work to ensure any new design standards 'respect' the design language of the platforms Chrome appears on. That means adapting the browser so that it meets those standards while seamlessly blending the UI cues of Chrome OS, Linux, Windows, Android, Mac, iPhone, or other platforms with a distinctly Google aesthetic and features. Everything from browser behavior to iconography and typography is taken into consideration, allowing for a familiar look and use regardless of which platform a user is on.