Google+ Redesign: Big Fat Belly Flop
Google+ was already kind of a mess. Then they redesigned it and made it even worse. The Roundpeg team has some pretty strong opinions on the redesign.
Why is every website now trying to Pinterest? Mashable, Etsy and now Google+ are all jumping onto a layout with big pictures arranged three or four abreast. That layout, with stories and pictures in individual pods arranged in rows, works great for Pinterest. But not every freaking site is Pinterest! Google used to be a leader, but lately all it seems to be doing is following. Copying Pinterest with Google+, rolling out their new streaming music service way behind Spotify–is this all a sign of a larger creative malaise at Google? Either way, not impressed, Google. Stop building giant statues of dessert and step up your game.
I remember when I signed up to wait for Google+. It was going to be the smart Facebook, a gleaming social spaceship at the center of the Internet. Just using it would redeem every meme and political rant posted by not-me. Today, my hope for Google+ goes mostly unfulfilled. It’s shiny and clean indeed, but Google+ is parched for humanity. Twitter is great because it’s a mess of people texting to the world at once. Facebook is like Times Square at noon on a Saturday, all adverts, weirdos and people with cameras. I want to like Google+, it could be my Facebook. Unfortunately, it’s still the early adopters in there. And they’re just standing in a circle, talking about Google+.
Google+ has so much potential and it’s wasting everything it has going for it with redesign after redesign, lame terminology and usability that’s a joke. It should be intuitive and it baffles me that with their large group of talented designers, they haven’t created their own signature design and stuck with it. Then there’s the trying-too-hard vibe I get from the Pinterest-looking tiles and video chat full of effects. It’s difficult to take the dorky names Hangout and Hangout Parties seriously even though the video chats are useful. I’d be willing use Google+ more if it wasn’t so drastically different each time I log in. I want to love Google+, I really do, but until it figures out what it wants to be, I’m not getting too attached.
G+ was clearly designed for mobile devices, and the desk top was an afterthought. While the web version is clunky the mobile interface scrolls easily. The extra-large images fill the tablet screen with all relevant information, such as the number of comments and the title of the blog post superimposed on the image. Browsing images and reading short posts is easy and elegant. Not all of these elements translates to the desktop. I still don’t think this is a great social network but a nice way to scan news updates.
From a web design standpoint, this site is a mess. Let’s just address the elephant in the room up front. Why the heck is the cover photo so enormous? I understand the whole visual appeal band wagon all the social sites have been hurling themselves on, but 2120 x 1192–really? That’s wider than the typical 1920px monitor. And why, upon loading your profile, can you only see about 10% of the cover photo and make me scroll up to view the rest? On top of all this, literally, is Google’s navigation and search bar that minimizes when scrolling down and expands while scrolling up, which is just annoying. Google, you have risen from start-up search engine to an empire nearly as big as Microsoft. Why would you stop utilizing your great leadership skills that carried you up there?
When trying to sum up Google+, I don’t even really have words. All I can see is the cover photo when I visit someone’s profile. I feel like it’s just a joke. With that mandatory gradient on the cover photo, it’s like they’re trying to be the boss of me. For instance, with the Roundpeg cover photo, it takes our clean look and makes it murky. And the round avatars? Nothing looks good in a circle. What person’s picture is going to look good in that? There are no circle picture frames for a reason. As for the redesign of the main feed, I’m not really bothered by that. It’s Pinterest-style, which is what we’re used to looking at these days, though it’s a bit confusing about what was posted in what order. But as for the cover photo, I just can’t.