Google+ has been going pretty strong since its launch back in June of 2011. In just a year, it amassed 170 million users — Google is obviously not going to give out the numbers of those who actually use the service, but they like to say 170 million do, so we’ll go with that. Today, Google announced that they are expanding the social network even more with lots of extra customization, a major redesign, better Hangouts, and more.
Not that Google+’s layout was terrible before, but Google thinks they can really enhance it by giving users some customization all around. For instance, with the redesign, you can now customize the new navigation bar on the left by simply dragging the apps around. If you don’t want to see one anymore, then just drag it to the animated “More” button to remove them. Read on for the other notable changes in Google’s redesign along with some opinion on the subject.
With the redesign, Google+ is becoming much more media-centered, especially in the art of photography. Trey Ratcliff, one of my favorite photographers and one of the most prominent ones on Google+, has been using the network for quite a while as his main connection to his followers. Instead of Facebook or Twitter, Ratcliff found Google+ to be a far better solution for sharing photos — and boy, it is.
The problem is, Google+ isn’t just a photo sharing network, it’s supposed to be a social network for all things. I think Google is trying to put emphasis on the elements that are really taking off to get users to the network, then hopefully they’ll expand other areas of it. I did notice from the screenshots that they are also adding trending bar to the right side of the main Google+ page — hello Twitter? I’m not sure how that’s going to work out, but time will tell.
A Bit of Opinion
We must wonder though, why the sudden redesign of a network that’s not even a year old? I think Google is trying to make things more appealing, and they’re doing it with their same motto of things being “simpler”, which is hard to grasp. Sure, Google isn’t complicated, but are they trying to raise the bar of what we think is “simple” or what? For a search engine, I think DuckDuckGo is simple. Google once was as well, but then they grew. Their social network is the same in that it grew, requiring a “simpler” approach, which I just don’t see in this redesign.
Other things I must question are whether it will last much longer. There are many avid users of Google+, but are there enough? It’s not about what they currently have, it’s about what the future holds for them — right now, it looks like things aren’t going so well, hence the redesign for some extra appeal.
As for the redesign itself, Google deems it “beautiful”, yet there is little color and the design as a whole is mostly composed of shades of gray, a bit of green, a pinch yellow, and the multicolored Google logo. Other than that, I see this entire redesign as a bland approach to design. I mean, go look at Facebook and Twitter — they’re vibrant; Twitter even has customizable colors and everything. What happened to all of that? Are we going back to the black and white age?
The color isn’t gone entirely, you can hover over the navigation bar buttons to get a bit of life in there, but other than that things seem to be a bit boring. This redesign was obviously about more than just the color though, since a bit more has changed. For instance, there’s now a cover photo above your profile — just like Facebook. Wait, why must Google go copy these features? Can’t anyone come up with something original anymore? The cover photo does well as an extra way to show people what kind of person you are in a visual way, but still.
I think Google’s move to simplicity is actually a move backwards. Not only are they adding a lot more and making things complicated, but they’re also removing the 3D feel that the Web used to have. Their Google Chrome icon was an example of that when it went from the beautiful 3D to 2D: flat, boring, lifeless. Retro is fun, but not when it becomes a standard. Why are things digressing all of the sudden?
It’s not just the lack of 3D objects that can be annoying though, the presence of them is also a bit irritating. An example would be that screenshot above of the redesign. The problem with it is the difference in objects — some are 3D, others are 2D. They just don’t mix well and look downright strange together.
One of the most noticeable 3D objects is the new share box at the top. Notice how it sticks out while the rest of the elements just look flat. It’s a bit inconsistent, in my opinion. Sure, it gives attention to the one box, but everything else looks a bit different, which doesn’t make much sense.
This new design will be rolling out to all users soon. What are your thoughts on this new design? Do you like it or will you still not be using Google+ because of Google’s bad reputation with privacy?