Sunday, May 10, 2009

Data apparently trumps design at Google

You know, it's funny. As much as I respect Google for what they have achieved in the online search arena...and in all of its interconnected and robust tools...every time I use it, I can't help but think of how very elementary and downright uninspired its user experience can be. So I just had to share what I found this morning in the New York Times. Douglas Bowman, a top level Google designer, had to back up every design enhancement with data while at Google, which he recently left to join Twitter. But here lies the rub with validating new design decisions with quantifiable data moments after a design tweak goes live: chances are there will be no gestalt to effectively test a new concept if no one has ever seen anything like it before. In fact, I agree with John Seely Brown, the co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for Edge Innovation, who says, "Customers sometimes do not know what they want. It can be dangerous to just listen to what users say they need." Maybe the lessons here could come from Steve Job and his team at Apple. A true visionary in design, Jobs virtually told consumers what they wanted by championing design concepts and nuances unlike anything the world has ever seen before. And at the end of the day, isn't that what true innovation is really supposed to be all about?

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