On Wednesday of this week, Google Plus did what Facebook has been doing for years. They got a redesign. The social network that will hit one-year old in June, and has more than 170 million users, has put out their first major overhaul, with an eye towards being easier to use, nicer to look at, and maybe even more Facebook-like.
So, what’s new with the Plus?
Overall, they have added a bar on the left side, called a “dynamic ribbon”, which contains icons for the most used parts of GPlus, including, “Home”, “Profile”, “Explore”, “Hangouts”, “Photos”, “Circles”, and “Games”. In addition, you can add or delete icons for parts of GPlus you don’t wish there (although they only move to the “More” button).
On the right side, just past your news stream, they still offer the “Trending on Google+, You May Know, and You Might Like”, and lots and lots of empty space, before reaching the new chat area (which was previously on the left side). What’s with all the free space? Only the GPlus designers know for sure, but speculation is that it is for features that will be added in the future. In fact, this is the one part of the redesign that I take issue with. I have a 24” monitor, and I’m looking at half of the screen being a subtle grey, which I find a bit boring.
Taking a hint from the Facebook Timeline, GPlus’ new profile pages offer bigger photos, including a cover photo that can be customized, and offers the choice of one big picture (like Facebook) or five smaller photos (which was the standard GPlus photo line). The difference in the cover photo here, however, is that GPlus requires pictures be at least 940×180 in size, whereas Facebook requires a picture that is 851×315 pixels in size. In addition, your profile picture is on the right-side of the cover photo, so you won’t be able to use the exact same picture you are on Facebook. Not surprising. In fact, they even indicate that your updated profile will help you tell your story online, which is exactly what Facebook was looking to accomplish with their new cover photos.
Now, when viewing photos and videos in the news feed, they are bigger, and more prominent. They have also added a new home for Hangout, GPlus’ use of live video to bring people together (you can video chat with up to 10 people at once). There is now a dedicated Hangouts page, which will create even more opportunities to connect in person, including an updated list of invitations, quick access to every public hangout, and a billboard of popular hangouts.
So, is GPlus easier to use? I actually think so. After my previous post, What’s All the Plus About, I’ve been trying to use GPlus more, and I believe that some of these changes will make it easier, and more likely that I’ll spend even more time here.
What about you? What do you like about the changes? Dislike? Will these changes make you more apt to give GooglePlus a closer look? If so, make sure you circle me!
Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you. He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line. EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business. Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.