Google’s Visual Design Leader Douglas Bowman bailed last week. He left, he reveals, because Google’s fundamentally run by engineers. Engineers who do thing like focus test 41 shades of blue to decide the best one.

When a company is filled with engineers, it turns to engineering to solve problems. Reduce each decision to a simple logic problem. Remove all subjectivity and just look at the data…And that data eventually becomes a crutch for every decision, paralyzing the company and preventing it from making any daring design decisions.

The obvious compare and contrast is to Apple, and the way they developed the iPod—or really, any other product. It didn’t emerge fully formed from the singular vision in Steve Jobs’ brain, but headstrong design is at the forefront of the creation of every product, which is why Apple often leads the industry in product design.

At least, that’s one way to look at it. Cnet’s Steven Sharkland makes a pretty compelling opposing point: That Google’s reliance on data about the way millions of people use a web page is in fact “radical in its own way,” following the “form-follows-function” design mindset to the extreme. Indeed, Google’s products are extremely functional, and easy to use. But they’re never really beautiful. And maybe they—or anything else effectively designed by millions—never will be. [Stop Design, Cnet via core77]

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