The Shahnameh is a thousand-year-old epic that tells mythical tales of ancient civilizations. It’s an often-overlooked seminal work of world literature. Its 62 stories are told in 990 chapters through 50,000 couplets of poetry that took 30 years for its author Ferdowsi to complete.

The Shahnameh is written in modern Persian, which makes it understandable in spite of its age. I remember as a young boy spending hours at the library reading through its many magical stories, marvelling at its fantastic creatures, and feeling proud of the fact that I could understand its poetry with little help. …

Three UX takeaways from redesigning the latest version of the Google Translate website

Last month, after a long journey, we launched a new version of the Google Translate website with a responsive layout and a modern Material Design UI.

Google Translate’s responsive new website

Given the global popularity of Google Translate, we knew we had to prepare for change aversion. There are a lot of great articles written about the topic that provide strategies for minimizing the change aversion response. But as it is often the case with projects of this scale, there are some lessons that can only be learned through hindsight. Here are my top takeaways from redesigning the Google Translate website.

1. Your users are your crystal ball

If you’ve read about…

Tirgan is a summer festival in Toronto that celebrates Iranian arts and culture. Since 2008, I’ve been designing the festival creatives, drawing inspiration from both the festival’s heritage and its modern settings.

Tirgan is a summer festival in Toronto. It is a celebration of Iranian culture, food, dance, and music. This year, it is the 10th anniversary of my creative collaboration with Tirgan. It’s been quite a journey from its humble inception in 2008 to becoming a well-known name among Toronto’s busy summer festival calendar. Here’s how we designed Tirgan.

2008: The beginnings

The first festival was held in 2008 by a small group of volunteer organizers, under a different name: “Once upon a time.” I was asked to create the festival’s logo and visual identity and help produce all the festival assets. I wanted…

Next up in Redesigning Iran is the logo of Iran’s national airline. It’s one of the most beloved brands in the country, so much so that despite most other national logos being redesigned after the 1978 revolution, the iconic Iran Air mark survived and is used to this day.


According to the airline’s (horrendous-looking) website, the original logo was selected in 1961 as the winning entry from the airline’s public design competition. 22-year-old Edward Zohrabian was the designer.

The internet is full of success stories about people making lots of money selling t-shirts online. I’ve been designing and selling t-shirts since 2006. Follow my footsteps to create your own version of the internet’s most rudderless flagship t-shirt brand.

Rule 1: find a niche audience (preferably cut off from the world financial system)

In 2006 I lived in Toronto and I was getting ready to finish grad school. 2006 was also a World Cup year, and Iran –the country I was born in– had made it to the finals for only the second time during my lifetime. I wanted to buy Iran-themed soccer fan shirts, but nobody was selling them. So I jumped…

AdWords is a complex tool that allows advertisers to grow their business and reach more customers. During my time in the AdWords UX team (2013-2015), I focused on creating a more human experience for advertisers and helping them make better decisions for their business.

Making complex data easier to understand

The Google Display Network is a set of websites across the web that advertisers can show their ads on. With more than half a dozen different targeting methods to choose from, and large amounts of data displayed across 7 different tabs, some Display Network advertisers found it hard to understand their campaigns’ performance. To separate important…

The design story behind making Google Translate’s camera feature and real-time conversation mode more discoverable

Humans have been fascinated with magical creatures or devices that break language barriers for as long as languages have existed. At Google Translate, we have the opportunity to work on a product that helps us get one step closer to realizing the magic.

Discovering the magic

Google Translate’s instant camera translation and real-time conversation modes never cease to amaze our users. …

When it comes to Football in Iran, two clubs have more fans than any other. The blues of Esteghlal — formerly named Taj — are one of them (Persepolis, covered in this series earlier, are the other). In addition to two Asian club championship trophies, Esteghlal have eight Iranian league championships and six cup wins to their name.

Taj in early 70s. Photo from

Initially founded as a cycling club in 1945 by an army general, the club was originally called The Cyclists. It soon changed its name to Taj. …

Football is Iran’s most popular sport. Its governing body is Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran. The missing proposition in the official English name is the perfect metaphor for the incompetence it is typically associated with.

Despite this, Team Melli –the national team which the Federation is responsible for organizing– has achieved moderate success in recent years. This has largely been thanks to the leadership of coach Carlos Queiroz who has instilled a great team spirit since taking the helm in 2011.

But he is also perpetually frustrated by the federation’s lack of planning, and has threatened to resign several…

Pendar Yousefi

UX manager @ Google Translate.

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