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Google designer quits over performance obsession

All cut up by 'sword of data'

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Google’s visual design leader quit the company on Friday because he was irked by the web giant’s obsession with performance data.

Douglas Bowman said in a blog post on 20 March that he had “grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions” after a team at Google couldn’t choose between two blues. Instead they decided to test them against 41 shades to see which colour performed best.

“I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4, or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can't operate in an environment like that,” grumbled Bowman, who joined the firm in 2006.

He added that Google wasn’t to blame for its reliance on data.

“The company has millions of users around the world to please. That’s no easy task,” he wrote.

“Google has momentum, and its leadership found a path that works very well. When I joined, I thought there was potential to help the company change course in its design direction. But I learned that Google had set its course long before I arrived.”

Bowman’s parting shot was a little more to the point, however.

“I won’t miss a design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data,” he said. ®

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