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Finally, a "visual design lead'' for Google

This will probably only matter to web design geeks, but Douglas Bowman is joining Google as "visual design lead.'' We've long admired Bowman's work, including his redesign of the Wired News site a few years ago. More recently, he punched up some of the templates for Blogger, and apparently helped with Google Calendar. It'll be interesting to see what influence Bowman has over Google products. It's a company that's never really been known for its design sensability - fairly or not.

(An aside: Bowman notes on his blog a very cool Google Calendar feature that lets you get a daily agenda of your appointments via SMS whenever you need it. Very nice.)

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Im charged with helping the company establish a common visual language across all their collaborative and communication products.

Why do companies feel they have to establish a common visual THEME accross all of their products?

The avant-garde, unique feel of Google's various products seems to work in its favor.

Sort of like giving them their own independance - emphasizing their own individuality.

Ironically, this may have worked in Google's favor by motivating a "get involve" attitude among developers

Search Engines Web on May 27, 2006 5:38 PM
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Google is one of the world's easiest to use sites. Google got it's highly usable homepage by accident, because the cofounders were interested more in mathematics and search algorithms, rather than HTML and Web Design. Although lately, it seems like Google is morphing into a portal. It'll be interesting to see what happens now that Douglas Bowman joined Google.

Shimon Sandler on May 28, 2006 6:45 AM
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In one of my courses, my instructor noted that Google's success relied partially on its simplicity. She used it as an example to commend the simplicity of my project site's layout and navigation. I'm currently enjoying one of Bowman's templates at Blogger and I think that Stopdesign's site is impressive.

In response to this common visual language issue, it's definitely the thing that keeps audiences aware of what belongs with whom. I think Google's products all have a similarity in branding, though because they've been developed over time and, I suppose, individually, they've taken on lives of their own. I just hope this introduction won't mean a complication of it, but an integration, sparing its existing user friendliness and simplicity. Compare it with so many sites that throw a multitude of languages and content at you without really giving you a direction to go in. Judging by what he has done with Blogger, I expect great things. His site's main page is brilliantly easy to read and navigate.

Erika Rathje on May 28, 2006 11:02 PM
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