Google's Lead Designer Doug Bowman Leaves for Twitter | It's Confirmed

After three years as visual design lead at Google, designer Doug Bowman consumed his last free lunch at the Googleplex on Friday, and the word on the street is that he's heading to Twitter. But why leave Google, with an audience of millions, afternoon massages and Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburgers? Bowman lashes out on his blog at the search giant's over-analytical culture that relies on data and testing over the instincts of its own design team.

Bowman was the first "classically trained" designer the company hired in 2006 (most designers hired before had backgrounds in interaction and none were in a leadership position). So he saw Google's choice to hire him as a huge committment to design. Unfortunately, Bowman found that the data-centric culture was so deeply engrained, he couldn't make much headway

Turns out the Web rumors were true for once. In a meeting last Friday afternoon in Twitter’s San Francisco office, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told me that the company had hired ex-Google Visual Design Lead Douglas Bowman to be the company’s new creative director.

Bowman will replace Stone, who was acting as Twitter’s creative director. “The Twitter Web page looks pretty simple,” says Stone. “But from our perspective the design needs a lot of work.”

This is a great hire for Twitter, and more proof that Twitter has replaced Facebook as the tech industry’s hottest startup. Bowman could probably have joined Facebook if he wanted. But the talented designer, who used to work at Wired News, clearly sees a bigger opportunity at Twitter, not only from a design perspective but perhaps from a monetary one as well.

Bowman will be a much-needed presence as Twitter expands and tries to handle the enormous design challenge of helping Twitter users to manage the increasingly large amount of information flowing through the Twittersphere.

Bowman caused a bit of a stir when he announced his departure from Google in late March. In a candid post on the blog of his design consultancy stopdesign, Bowman said he left Google because of what he described as the company’s slavish obsession with data.

“I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case,” wrote Bowman. “I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.”

Not surprisingly, it appears as if Bowman digs Twitter. He seems to have joined the service on or around March in 2007. His first tweet appears to have been posted from, what else, South by SouthWest. “mellowing at the Driskill,” wrote Bowman. “my lord there’s a lot of people at sxsw this year.”

But Bowman is far from prolific or Scoble-like. He only has published 401 tweets over the last two years. Apparently, Bowman has to work for a living.

He is pretty popular, though. Bowman currently has 3,677 followers yet he himself only follows 93 people. Among the select crew of people that Bowman tracks are: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Biz Stone, designer Derek Powazek, Google senior vice president Jeff Huber and blogger Anil Dash.


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