In a span of a week, three former Google Web designers piped up to explain why they quit the company.
What are they so upset about?
First Google’s former top designer Doug Bowman said he quit the company because of “a design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data.” He joined Twitter.
Then, in a mostly positive look at the company, another former Google (GOOG) designer, Kevin Fox, responded with this critcisim for the “Google Founders and VPs:”
The User Experience Design team at Google has had a glass ceiling from the very beginning. You need to fix this if you want to continue attracting world-class talent. Seriously.
Finally, ex-Google Web designer Anne Halsall, who left the company in January, wrote this anecdote about a terrible meeting with Google VP Marissa Mayer to illustrate her own frustrations with Google’s glass ceiling:
Since assuming leadership of the consumer web team, I started attending the legendary weekly UI review meeting. I did this both as a representative of the web group, and also to help keep my team on track with what Marissa [Mayer, VP of search products & user experience] and her team expected of us. By this point in my career I had worked with her many, many times, and I had been attending the review regularly for a couple of months. She had even shaken my hand once to thank me for launching a particularly big and difficult campaign.
One of the last times I sat in that meeting, as we were dispersing, she looked right at me and asked her assistant to “cut down on the number of guests – there are too many random people here.” I knew then that despite all the work I had done for her team, she didn’t recognise me at all. I had earned no influence. I stopped going to the reviews after that.
A few weeks later, after thinking about my experiences and opportunities there, I decided to resign.
Why all the griping? Some theories:
- Google just exchanged underwater options for options with a longer vesting schedule. That means people who felt they’d reached a dead end in their career at Google suddenly had to stay at that dead end for longer amount of time if they hoped to see their Google stock become worth anything again. This made them evaluate whether they could stand it. For Anne and Doug, the answer was no.
- Google doesn’t really need web designers. Google search, which drives 99% of the company’s revenue, is a design masterpiece because it’s hardly designed at all. Competitors like to slag Google for relying on “10 blue links” but it works and Google won’t need designers to change it anytime soon.
- Google is a sales-driven company that likes to call itself an engineering-driven company. So even if Google plans to change a product, it won’t go to the Web designers first.