Will Doug Bowman Make Google Beautiful?


Good news folks… Enough for me to get out of bed, put my back at risk and write a blog post – Doug Bowman, uber designer has joined Google which means, a likely end to the mishmash, drab and boring user interfaces from Google. Yeah!

On a more serious tip, with the acquisition of Measure Map, Google got some good people from Adaptive Path who know a thing or two about web design and UI. Bowman is another design ace. What it leads me to believe that with an increase in the number of offerings from Google, the search giant has realized that it needs to put its UI house in order. Bowman’s post on his blog pretty much says it all.

After a bit of negotiation and a lot of internal debate, I recently accepted an offer to join Google as Visual Design Lead, a position that did not previously exist there. I’m charged with helping the company establish a common visual language across all their collaborative and communication products. This includes products I’ve already had some hand in like Blogger and Calendar. But it will also include other highly used products like Gmail, Writely, Page Creator, and other projects in the pipeline.



Google has some great products on the go at the moment, but they do need to focus on the details a little more. For example, why does http://sitemaps.google.com not take you to Google Sitemaps when http://analytics.google.com DOES take you to Google Analytics?

And while I respect the minimalist homepage compared with others (this is perhaps one of their greatest assets), their navigation on the site is really really bad. For those who would say otherwise, please tell me the logical series of clicks you would make to find the “submit spam result” page on their site.

Yes, getting a top notch designer in is a step forward for Google. They have pioneered a lot of cool stuff, so would be great to see them nail the design and usability side of things too.


I have a hard time with the look of the Google Calendar. I personally feel that 30boxes.com has a much better design. With design you have to consider the social aspects to what made google.com a nice design. Web 1.0; a world cluttered with spam and dating advertisements, from out of these ashes arose a simple clean interface not selling anything… Google search represents the heart of the open source movement. Uber Mininalist.


Funny how a lot of people equate design with “longer to load and more ‘widgets’ on the page”.

Good design is about loading the RIGHT things on the page at the RIGHT time, and keeping the user as the key focus. It’s not just about colours and pretty pictures, it’s about USING the product.

With Jeff Veen and now Doug on board I have high hopes for the future of Google interfaces/products.

Ken Rossi : CivilNetizen.com

Mike, we can only hope that he brings unification to all of these “brands” of google. I think calendar is the best product to date. I hope he has a big part in gmail getting a much needed UI upgrade.

I just hope that the he still has as much influence as he did as a contractor. A lot of times when you get hired by a large company you lose your golden boy status very quickly.

Mike Rundle

RMX, you’re obviously not giving Doug any credit here. As one of, or the, top web-based visual designer on this planet, you can assume that he knows full well the visual aesthetic that Google has carried the past few years and only hopes to better the Google brand through his new position. Just because Google has now hired Doug to lead all their designs, don’t think he’ll be dropping gradients and shadows everywhere for the heck of it.

The recent Google Calendar was designed by Doug, and considering it’s the most attractive and usable Google product they’ve launched, my guess is that Doug will bring that same aesthetic to the other Google products.


Rather obvious the responses have been from them who possess little design capabilities; the user interfaces from Google might only be referred to as ‘interfaces’ in the anti-aesthetic sense of the word. I despise Google’s lack of design and hence use none of their products.

The aesthetic interface is as important as the purpose of the application although as with all concepts not one wishes to apply their own real-world correlations, choices: we need not home design; as long as a house has a bed/kitchen and bathroom one house design will suffice for all.

As long as the car gets one from point A to B; the style does not matter. One car body from now on.

Color and high-definition distract the viewer from the messages; thus all televisions should be monochromatic. Pure and simplicity.

Applying the statements made so far each of these points is valid.

Design, design, innovation.


Note that Yahoo started losing to its competitors once it went away from the default-HTML-styles in the mid 90s, to a “professionally designed” UI.

Google works because its UI does NOT interfere with what it’s trying to show. That’s really it’s only strength (in recent years MSN and Yahoo and Ask each have competitive search results). But Google’s clean and non-professional UI is what makes it succeed.

I think this guy will only bring harm to their products.


mishmash, drab and boring user interfaces , lol, coming from another blue and white blog looking interface..


There is nothing really bad about the current Google design. Furthermore, simplicity makes is the best way to surf the internet. I like it the way it is now, don’t think I would enjoy the additional weightage on the graphics or added user-interface widgets on the Google page.

Kyle Brady

I think, personally, that Google could use a unified interface of sorts. They seem to have attempted this between Gmail, Calendar, and Reader…but only loosely. Another aspect that may appear out of this is universal Google Accounts…have you noticed that you have to sign up for each service indivudally (usually)? I’m hoping they create blanket accounts…if you belong to one, you have all the services but just have to activate that “module”.


I prefer plain and simple over way too long to load because of all the garbage anytime.


the problem with moving away from a basic approach is you cant please everyone, with a basic look (most) people wont go, ugh, thats ugly, but say if google decides to make everything green and shiny, what happens with people who hate green, etc


I love the Google interface, plain simple and ad free (in most parts).

Lets keep it that way.


I am with the folks who love the look and feel of the google homepage, gmail and google finance. Now Doug had a role in google calendar, so I am sure his work is excellent. I think the key is a consistent look and feel. I would hate google to get too fancy, but if Doug is able to keep the less of more credo alive and consistent across apps, then they will be in good shape. There is a lot of inconsistency in their recent offerings.


It’s good to know Google is actually going to pay some attention to design. Yes their apps are clean and uncluttered but they arent exaclty designed to appeal to the masses. (ie: Geeks love it).

Maybe Google are going through a phase of actually trying to market more to normal people.

Bob Jones

I have seen far worse Web 2.0 pays royalty to O’Reilly sites than gMail. I like the simplicity of Google, that said if the same content stays but is offered in a more attractive way – I’m for it.

Randhir Reddy

Mishmash, drab and boring seem a bit harsh on Google. For a company whose homepage has ignited Minimalism on the web, has to be given its due credit. Most of the Google’s products are neat, clean and uncluttered for me.

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