Google Doodles: Creative, Fun, Informative

Updated on May 6, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

The internet and smartphone technology are key to the way I connect with others. I can't imagine life without them.

This doodle recognizes Hungarian physician Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, widely attributed as the first person to discover the medical benefits of handwashing.
This doodle recognizes Hungarian physician Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, widely attributed as the first person to discover the medical benefits of handwashing. | Source

What is a Google Doodle?

Google Doodles brighten my day. You can see them on the home page of Google’s website. Each day a different and unique piece of art is posted. Sometimes it’s a static drawing, sometimes a cute animation, occasionally it’s an interactive game. Google chooses a different topic each time; it could be a national celebration, a milestone in history, a topical issue, or a famous person’s birthday.

Occasionally, world events overtake the planned doodle. The screenshot above is from the animation that appeared on 19th March 2020. It not only celebrates the achievement of the first doctor to advocate washing hands to prevent the spread of disease, but also animates the WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines for staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Each Google Doodle is formed around the word google; this is the unifying factor of the daily artwork. The imagination and inventiveness of the creative team is boundless, and I am constantly amazed by what they achieve. The video below shows the hard work that goes into planning and creating a Google Doodle.

Who Was Lotte Reiniger? Why is There a Doodle About Her?

What is Today’s Google Doodle?

The easiest way to see today’s Google Doodle is to download the Google app to your phone or laptop, click on Homepage, and there it is. If it’s a game or animation, you can view the moving sequence by clicking on the arrow in the middle of the drawing. No words or game play instructions are given; each doodle is designed to be understood by everyone, without language being a barrier.

You can land on Google’s home page whichever browser you use, but the doodles are optimized to be viewed via Chrome. For instance, on Internet Explorer, some of the games won’t work, so if this happens to you, switch browsers to get a better experience. The video below is an example of one of the popular Google Doodle games.

"Celebrating 50 Years of Kids Coding" (Google Doodle Dec 4th 2017)

What Was the First Google Doodle?

The first of these drawings happened almost by accident. In 1998, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were headed for the Burning Man Festival. They wanted to make an “out of office” message that conveyed the idea of where they were going. They played around with the company logo, and put the festival’s stick-man peeking out from behind the “O”.

The response from everyone was so positive, that the rest, as they say, is history.

If you look at the two examples below, you’ll see the artwork of recent doodles has become more detailed. The unifying factor of all these illustrations is that each one includes the letters of the Google logo in the design; no matter whether it’s a static picture, an animation, or an interactive game. You may need to look closely to find the logo in the Berlin Wall doodle, but it’s there!

The first ever Google Doodle, 30th August 1998, celebrates the Burning Man Festival.
The first ever Google Doodle, 30th August 1998, celebrates the Burning Man Festival. | Source
9th November 2019 celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
9th November 2019 celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. | Source

What is the Meaning of Google Doodle?

The phrase has no intrinsic meaning, but it’s come to mean a doodle that incorporates the logo of an international tech company, Google.

You may be interested to learn that the word Google is a misspelling of the word Googol.

Googol is a term used in math and literally means 10 raised to the power of 100. That’s a lot of zero’s, too many to write out in full here, so just think of it as a term for describing a very large number.

Doodling describes the scribbles and drawings you do when your mind is elsewhere.

So, you may be on the phone to your friend, but your hands draw doodles on a notepad without you consciously directing them. Or you may be in a school lesson and your attention is not really on what the teacher is saying, instead you find yourself scribbling flowers and faces in the margin of your exercise book.

The term Google Doodle has taken elements of meaning from the individual words, but the complete phrase has acquired a unique artistic personality.

There are certainly a very large number of these artworks, but they are not inexpert unconscious scribbles.

The Google Doodle Team Reveals Their Game Design Process

How to Make a Google Doodle

If you have an idea for a Google Doodle, the company would like to hear from you. With a minimum of 365 new ideas to find each year, they welcome input from the public. If you need a little guidance to get inspiration on how to illustrate letters, I recommend The Art of Doodle Words. It helps you turn your idea for an anniversary, or event into an artistic creation good enough to be submitted for inclusion on Google’s home page.

Some events like Christmas, or Mother’s Day, are celebrated on different days in different countries, so the same graphic is not viewed in all parts of the world. You can make your suggestion specific to one culture or to many. Some anniversaries are quite obscure, for instance, 20th May 2018, celebrated Emil Berliner’s 167th birthday. Others dates are more obvious, 17th March 2020, marked St Patrick’s Day.

Be creative and maybe your idea for an event or issue to celebrate will chime with the decision-makers in the doodle department. But a word of caution, they receive thousands of suggestions, and very few are chosen for publication.

Doodle 4 Google Schools Competition

How to Enter the Annual Doodle Contest

In order to encourage young talent, there’s an annual competition for school students; Doodle 4 Google. The topic for entry changes each year, but the prizes offered are well worth winning, both for the individual student, and for their school.

The prizes for the 2020 contest were a US $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 tech package for their school/non-profit organization, and the winning artwork to be displayed for a day on Google.com. The closing date is in March each year. It’s a fun project to get involved with, and gives kudos to upcoming young artists.

The judging criteria for the doodles are as follows.

  1. Artistic merit: Based on artistic skill
  2. Creativity: Representation of the contest theme, use of the letters in the Google logo, and the unique approach to the doodle
  3. Theme communication: How well the contest theme is expressed in both the artwork and the written statement

The entries are grouped and judged by the grade; grades K-3, grades 4-5, grades 6-7, grades 8-9, and grades 10-12.

Further Information

It’s fun to search the archive to see if someone from history has their own Google Doodle. Or you can put a date into the search box and see what was celebrated on a particular day.

Doodle 4 Google entry rules are here.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

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  • profile image

    Susan Kersley 

    3 weeks ago

    Fascinating! I'll look at Google Doodles with greater interest.

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    3 weeks ago from SW England

    Have just had a look - that's fascinating! Had never heard of the Theremin either. You learn something every day!

    Ann

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    3 weeks ago from UK

    I have often wondered what the doodle is all about. Thanks for explaining.

  • Beth Eaglescliffe profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Eaglescliffe 

    3 weeks ago from UK

    I've learned a lot from following up the topic of a Google Doodle. One of my favorite's is this one about the Victorian Clara Rockmore who invented the Theremin musical instrument.

    https://www.google.com/doodles/clara-rockmores-105...

  • annart profile image

    Ann Carr 

    3 weeks ago from SW England

    This is fascinating, Beth. I have often noticed the artwork but didn't realise that they had a specific name. I love doodling and have made art with students out of their own doodles and mine. It's fun!

    I'm going to pay even more attention to them each day now. Thanks for the information and the education.

    Hope you are keeping safe and well.

    Ann

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