Last week, Google Plus shocked everyone after it rolled out the latest user interface changes. Mind you, this is not the first time that G+ has changed its UI. But this time round it has a vision and a goal – to focus on “passion” rather than people, if that makes any sense. It aims to achieve this by making Collections and Communities more prominent on its platform.
Is Google being too aggressive? Is it trying to replicate Pinterest? Or does it want to become Facebook? This much is clear, something’s different about this tech leader lately. Just a few days back, Google collaborated with Facebook to crawl and index Facebook mobile app pages. So a web based search engine now wants access to mobile app, to turn its weakness into strengths. That’s not just smart but pro-active thinking. Not only this, Google is also trying to explore possible domains to add on to its current architecture. Google’s decision to change the UI design of G+ is perhaps motivated by similar ideas.
The need for an update
It all started with the inclusion of Collections on G+. Google has discovered that people are more interested in creating collections and they are more engaged in community discussions. To boost the two features, Google has decided to add them into user’s profile in a prominent position to gain even more attention. The choice is perfectly understandable but in a time when everyone is choosing minimalism, the design G+ has settled on seems cluttered. There is too much going on in one screen and this could be a potential turn-off for a lay user.
However, the biggest question which is bugging small business owners right now is if G+ is even worth it considering G+ is going to restrict business pages even further. We will discuss that later in the article.
But first how’d people receive the new Google+? Shocked, pleasantly surprised, bewildering are some terms that can be used to describe the user experience, and here’s why.
1. Are circles banished?
Circles is the main feature of G+ which allows users to create a network of relevant contacts and content. When a user finds someone or groups on G+, he can add it to his circle which is basically a user-created categorization.
In the new design, you will no longer see the people in your circles or those who have you in circles. A user is led to believe that the idea of adding people in circles is gone for good which is not true. You can still see your circles in ‘People’ from the side bar menu. Though the new design makes it less redundant and more organized; most users are not comfortable with this change though.
2. Profile description is buried deep, why?
Previously, we could visit a G+ profile and find the ‘About’ description right there in a convenient tab. In the new layout again it’s hidden from view. Instead, what’s more prominent are the Communities and the Collections of a profile or business page. It seems like G+ is trying to catch up with Pinterest by displaying Collections up front. At a glance the idea seems interesting but it only makes everything look cluttered. Perhaps they will further improve upon the way they present Collections and Communities on the profile page.
3. Engagement opportunity – better or worse?
Are you getting used to the new G+ user interface yet? Well there is something else that will surely catch your attention. The menu has been pushed to the left corner which reminds us of Pinterest which has also changed their UI design recently and pushed their menu to the right corner.
This offers more room for the user to concentrate on posts and engagement with them. You will not only see the last comment but instead it will keep on flashing all the comments without you clicking on the post. I suppose that’s a good way to catch up on the recent post activity at a glance. It gives the user a chance to identify the relevant post and interact more proactively.
Now this is good news for marketers who used to do cross-platform promotions. With added shareability you can now further share your published post on Facebook, Twitter, in addition to G+. Also, it gives you an option to share in communities and opens up a pop-up window from where you can select your desired community or circle.
5. Will communities and collections add to the clutter?
The new design focuses on and highlights Communities and Collections and it is integrated in a more modern looking UI design. Yet, most users are bothered by the fact that the addition of communities and collections within the profile only add more clutter. When the side bar displays all information about collections and communities, there is no real need to display it in the profile page. If they can change the layout a bit, it will appear less cluttered.
6. Will business pages get a slam?
A majority of the owners of business pages on G+ are concerned if they will lose visitors after this change. Truth be told, Google Plus has never emphasized on businesses sharing information and they are going to limit it even further after this new update. From now on, it will serve as a platform like Pinterest is for businesses. So start-ups aiming to build their presence on G+ might face a potential deadlock.
7. Is it time to abandon G+?
Finally the biggest shock for everyone is the decision whether to abandon G+ or not. It seems like Google Plus is dead! Although, the interface is faster than ever, it is getting complicated. Since the past one week, we’ve discovered changes which have displaced familiar features such as reviews, description area about a company, circles of people who are following us, and some more.
With these changes G+ is hinting at us about using features that it is pushing us to use without much clear direction of what the platform aims to achieve and what it has to offer, and for what type of users. It seems like they still have to cover a huge gap in their UI strategy. Either that or at least create awareness of its objectives.