Thursday, April 12, 2012

Google+ Redesign (Does It Really Matter?)

I signed into my Google+ account yesterday and was surprised that it looked completely different. I was unsure when exactly it had changed since I don't check it every day-there simply isn't enough activity there to make it worth my daily effort.

Needless to say I immediately noticed a few interesting things which have not gone unnoticed by other users. First, they have changed the format, squeezing your tools and status updates to the left, leaving a huge vertical bar of white space on the right hand side of the page.

Within hours (perhaps minutes) of the release new memes began sprouting up mocking the redesign and its seemingly illogical use of white space. Some featured everyday objects placed strategically in front of the computer screen, like a boot and a potted plant, while others used images of themselves hanging, or even star Betty White, with the hashtag #BettyWhiteSpace.

Here is my favorite, and I believe, the most relevant:

Obviously Google has a reason why they squished everything to one side of the page, I just wish they would let us know when we can expect it.

Second, they have removed the YouTube button which many users had been enjoying. It was a quick link to their favorite videos and made clear the connection between Google+ and YouTube. Some users believe the idea is to replace the YouTube button with a Google Play button, but since there is already a "Games" button that seems unlikely.

And finally, despite the format change there is still the problem of very little interaction, and the huge vertical bar of white space is not going to help that at all. I can spend hours on Google+ trying to connect with like-minded individuals and not find as many as I could doing the same thing on Twitter for five minutes. For whatever reason, whether it's the design, the features, the fact that Google+ is so in-your-face, or something else altogether, people simply are not using it the way they do other social media sites. I don't care if Google+ claims to have 170 million users--they simply are not very active.

However, as I have stated before, Google+ isn't going anywhere, any time soon. It's like a war of attrition--eventually, perhaps, we might all flock to Google+ simply because they'll be the last social media site standing.


Lyndon Johnson said...

I'm not sure that the redesign matters in itself... I think it is just part of the social media cycle of life - if you're not updating the UI at least quarterly, you're not a bone fide social network! I've been trying to figure out the differentiator for Google+ for months, and think I've found it.

Rather than there being a social network war - where people choose one of another, I believe people will choose the most appropriate app for their network. Businesses will, I think, use aspects of them all, depending on their target audience.

I wrote a blog post about the killer social app that Google+ has that the others don't [yet]. I'd welcome all comments

Jerry Battiste said...

The Blogger redesign seems to be falling in line with the G+ redesign. Specifically, so much white space my eyes bleed after every post I write!

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