Google’s best acquisition to date: Doug Bowman Jason 26 May 2006

42 comments Latest by JohanneS

Google just got Doug Bowman. Smart move by Google. This is their best acquisition to date. Congrats to both sides.

42 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Adam Michela 26 May 06

Indeed. Congrats’ Doug! (Or should I say congrats’ Google?) ;)

Don Wilson 26 May 06

What is Doug known for? His name seems familiar to me.

Anonymous Coward 26 May 06

Don, ever hear of Google? Do a little work on your own to find things out. It will take you 10 seconds.

Dave Simon 26 May 06

@Don - Mr. Bowman is StopDesign ( and was a driving force behind the recent Blogger redesign and the (now 3 year old) Wired redesign.

Congrats to both Doug and Google. Hopefully, this will be a productive team in making Google’s products more usable.

I hope Doug continues to write quality stuff like “sliding doors” on his website.

Jack 26 May 06

I wonder if he will change web hosts now for his blog from Media Temple to some type of Google web hosting.

blah 26 May 06

google is still fucked.

did you guys hear about the terms of settlement for the class action clickfraud suit? they sent the settlement terms by fucking EMAIL (and by email ONLY). and you only have 30 days to accept it or opt out (not even 30 business days). and they don’t even give you any cash, regardless of how much fraud you can prove, they just give you google advertising credits. WHO DOES BUSINESS THAT WAY? who do these people think they are? the massive, unprecedented fraud that’s going on really makes enron look small in comparison.

right now there’s a 40,000 machine botnet whose sole purpose is to engage in clickfraud via zombie machines. does goog give a fuck? no. they said from the beginning, and reiterated it multiple times, that they don’t give a shit about their shareholders.

if they’re hiring good people it’s just polishing the brass on the titanic.

Ed Knittel 26 May 06

How much influence will he be able to exert?

If the success of his (and others) Blogger templates as well as Calendar are any indication then I think the other Google products that Doug mentioned such as Gmail, Writely and Page Creator (as well as those yet to be named) will have a lot of influence on the entire Google thinking.

What ever Google is paying him now that he is an employee rather than contract along with what is likely very good health insurance and stock options - they’re getting off easy. Doug’s extremely talented and it’s great to see Google go after not only the world’s best engineers but now also some great Visual Designers.


Doug becomes another inhouse web designer

Lots of big shots probably sit around asking “How can we be like Google and make lots of money?!” Maybe this will be the start of something that will have a positive impact through a lot of other big (and small) companies to hire talented in-house designers and, hopefully, compensate them for what they are worth.

Michal Migurski 26 May 06

Does this mean he’ll never be heard from again?

I mean it’s cool and all, but Google has a way of metabolizing talented new hires that removes them from the world at large. I have limited faith that anything like good design will result from this move - the best thing they’ve done in the past year (Finance) was apparently conceived, designed, and built entirely by Google’s employees in India.

Mathew Patterson 26 May 06

Maybe this will be the start of something that will have a positive impact through a lot of other big (and small) companies to hire talented in-house designers

Hopefully it will also get companies to listen to their existing inhouse talent too. Often companies have the idea that really creative thinking can only come from outside the company.

Cliff Spence 26 May 06

Great move by Google. As Google increases it’s offerings, their products seem more and more disjointed from one another. I’m sure they’ve realized this, and I hope that is a big part of what has spurred hiring Doug. He’s certainly the man to have in your corner when it comes to design.

Lance Shields 26 May 06

Congrats Doug, very envious! I myself have recently made the move from design firm/agency to inhouse designer. It took quite a shift in perspective to do it. A few minues: things move slowly on the inside, your time is taken for granted, and less risk taking peers. A few pluses: I get to noodle around under the hood, get to know the customer and company minds intimately, ally with key folks and start to change manage the place.

TheElder 26 May 06

Awesome move by Google. Go Doug! This should definitely shake things up a bit. Some freaking consistency across product lines that is visually appealing is going to rock!

Jan Oberst 27 May 06

We all know Google hires the smartest people and let them form even smarter teams! I bet they’ll let give plenty of rope forming a bigger Visual Designs team. So getting Doug is just one more logic step and he accepting the job, too.

The Calendar design is definitely one of Google�s better interfaces! And they obviously need someone to care about newly acquired products or to guide new developments into a (yet to develop) Google design. I’m not surprised they didn’t have that position yet.

Maria loves pictures 27 May 06

Yes I agree with you, this is a clever move of google. I guess they started to care more about design and look of their services. I can see some exciting changes coming.

beto 27 May 06

At least it can now be assured Google’s design is in good hands now. Congrats Doug!

Ken Rossi : 27 May 06

Congrats. This should hopefully unify all the seemingly different “brands” of google.

Rik Lomas 28 May 06

Another example of Google employing great people rather than very good people. Congratulations Doug!

Don Wilson 28 May 06

Thanks Dave for the info.

LabRat 29 May 06

I agree that stepping up design is a good move but they should hire a decent customer service guru instead of relying on algorithms and automated email to handle customer relations. Google does an excellent job to provide reliable services on the machine side but the lack of a human touch to services (even crucial ones like adsense) and no recourse to appeal for account cancellation is notorious. Hopefully, this is a move towards coming to terms with their status as a major service provider and source of revenue for smaller web businesses.

Allan White 29 May 06

I didn’t read a single comment, until LabRat (self-coronated? how can we know for sure?). I’m just scrolling until I see a crown.

Maybe I can get my RSS reader to scan for them, or somehow bot-search for “crowned” conversations…

Oh, and congrats, Google. A step up.

meh 29 May 06

while we’re recommending improvements to google’s behavior, how about we suggest they stop manipulating their financial statements? when you include in all the stock they’ve given to employees, which they’re legally obligated to include but haven’t been, their revenue is fucking negative. it’s enron all over again on a much bigger scale.

do you people not understand that? that probably half of google’s revenue is simply fraudulent?

LabRat 29 May 06

Allan, that’s definitely a self-coronation as you can see from the nature of the comment. It was just a prank to illustrate what you said.

Although I think that the “Troll/Crown” idea is cute, you’re giving disproportional attention to a select few but I think everyone’s comment has its own value (except trolls—they should have super illegible, blended-into-the-background fonts given to them).

Of course, I respect SVN and love their ideas but just thought I’d express myself. I wont pull the prank again. I just wanted to make a point. Apologies.

Allan White 29 May 06

Perhaps users could have bestowed upon them jewels in the crown, from one to five.

Not trying to hijack the thread, Signals. It was the first post after the Royalty post, and I couldn’t resist. =)

Ken Rossi : 29 May 06

Not to hijack either but speaking of the troll and royalty crowns. I think that newsvine has a nice way of having users vote up comments.

On the customer service aspect, I think Google does need to change its automation. However, I have emailed tech support at Microsoft about images not showing up on their website. A human answered but they said they have no control over it and that they will try to fix it within a few months. It took them a month to respond to the email I originally sent. By the time they did this the sale they were having was over. I think at a certain size customer service just goes out the window.

I wish someone would write or speak about how large companies can maintain customer service without creating a red tape mess.

Nick Lo 29 May 06

It’s interesting that you say their “best acquisition to date” for an interface designer when they recently hired (end of last year) the creator of Python, Guido van Rossum. Does that suggest that interface designers have more pulling power or star quality in the way that say leading actors do?

I wonder how 37signals rank each other on the “best acquisition” scale, e.g would you Jason as an interface designer be a better acquisition than David?

Benson 29 May 06

@Nick Lo

The statement �best acquisition to date� for Google is just a highlight to the fact Google’s UI ain’t the best looking or consistent across its new products range.

Its true that the simplicity of Google made it what it is today, but the more products like Gmail, G-Calendar comes along the better UI quality is need.

For example, Writely or whatever (Google Write?) will need an extensive UI if its to challenge MS Words years of refined UI development.

I for one is glad Doug is leading the visual design at Google.

Nick Lo 30 May 06

Benson - Reading over my comment I can see I was possibly a little ambiguous. I wasn’t suggesting that I didn’t see the value in hiring Doug Bowman, I was just interested in the fact that his hiring is seen as their best acquisition.

Speaking as a designer who also programs, I’m probably caught between camps and therefore I’d find it hard to say hiring one of the web’s leading interface designers is necessarily better than the author of one of the major programming languages.

Well ok, truth is, I really just wanted to confirm that saying “I design” rather than “I program” is still cooler!

Daniel Lynch 30 May 06

I guess it’s progressive to go work in advertising..

Caleb Elston 30 May 06

As an aside, no posts for 4 days, Hmmm…. I wonder if the boys are getting ready for a June 1st release. I would really love to play around with one of their new apps. Any thoughts?

Daniel Lynch 30 May 06

I think they’re hard at work with deck ads! Hahaha.. I suck.

LabRat 30 May 06

Well, if you really want to nitpick, how can a human be an aquisition? Doug Bowman is obviously a designer of the calibre that even a company like Google with a high ratio of science Ph.ds will bend for. So in a sense “acquisition” is not really appropriate. But as someone said, it’s to highlight the fact that it shows how serious Google seems to be taking design.

I think the discussion here is interesting because it brings us to the question, “where does design end and technology start?”

I think that in anything that involves programming the answer is that the boundaries are mostly arbitrary. Of course, you must follow the constraints of a programming language but the same could be said of good poetry. Its just that some designs are more visual while others are conceptual. However, in the end it’s the complete experience that really matters and resonates with the user.

Sergey and Page essentially “designed” a search engine algorithm that was more beautiful and effective than the rest. Many mathematicians talk about the “beauty” of a proof or theorem.

Not to sound like a fan boy but it’s one of the things tha attract me to Apple’s philosophy of merging the best technology with the best design to create a truly beautiful experience. I don’t think it’s something that Windows will pull off anytime soon and to be frank, I think that improving the design element of Google will not be that easy. It’s also the same thing that draws me to Rails. The only boundaries between technology and design are the ones inside yourself.

Hope I don’t get trolled for so many posts. Thanks for bearing with me.

Ethan 30 May 06

congrats to Doug. Google deff needs to increase their design. I would also like to see better thought out userexperience as well. congrats to doug!

Greg 30 May 06

Good for him, but I’m wondering if there’ll be a community backlash? Not to stereotype, but you designers are a fickle group, and seem to value independance and the ability to just drop a client.

Basically, not implying that this will be an issue for Doug, but do you see his “integrity” being called into question? Just for fun, what if this were Microsoft instead?

Daniel Lynch 30 May 06

Then he’d be doing something potentially useful, instead of just working for the worlds largest ad biz..

BiZwiKi.CN 31 May 06

Indeed. Congrats� Doug! What change will be brought into google under the corporation? Anywhere we can track about Doug’s work in google ?

Daniel Lynch 31 May 06

Something like this:

1. Google ads will start using Kottke’s Silkscreen font and carry “hosted by (mt) Media Temple” banners.

2. Blogger will continue not to evolve as it hasn’t the latest 5 years.

3. You will praise Google - just like Apple - for its limited functionality AND slick interface!

4. I will hang myself in boredom and designers will rejoice..

5. Then you’ll all grow a Dolly Parton wig, participate in the W3C process and start rapping WCAG.

6. Happy story, really. The end.

Egor Kloos 02 Jun 06

Strange post guys, Bowman is certainly a good web focused designer. He had been very visible within the web design and web development community, but helping out to manage a brand is completely different. So to make such a sweeping remark like that seems a bit flippant, optuise even.

There is so much talent out there that Googles choice seem a bit skewed. Or is community driven hiring en vougue?

Holy Cow 04 Jun 06

Was Doug Boweman in any way responsible for Blogger’s interface looking like a Fisher Price children’s toy? Or was that only Adaptive Path?

That interface still gives me chills.

(I hope he just designed some templates for them.)

Web Design Cornwall 04 Jun 06

@Holy Cow

He gave quite an interesting presentation on the Blogger redesign at last year’s @media conference in London and his role in it - so I’m guessing he did. Either that or he likes taking credit for somone else’s work.

Not sure what’s wrong with Blogger though - it’s easy as hell to use.

Don Schenck 19 Jun 06

Every once in a while I like to go to the bottom of the last SvN blog on the list an add a comment.

Just my little secret.

JohanneS 28 Jun 06

@ Don: Good idea!