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*WHY AND HOW GOOGLE+'S INTERFACE IS KICKING ASS

After using this for a couple of days with an inner smile, and going through a couple of expert comments about its future with an even bigger smile, I got to say one thing: All of this here is really great user interface design. It is unbelievably good for a Version 1.0. and in spite of a lot of clever comments that gave it no chance in the battle against facebook, I can see how and why Google+ starts taking off—because—it is based on just really great user interface design.

I had to smile using Google+ like I smile when I read a really well written book, that is a book that manages to say things I felt and never managed to think. And that big smile that grew when reading geeky comments about its future, came because a lot of those expert comments sounded familiar to what at times we hear when people judge iA Writer without using it. You can't understand the quality of the interface without using it. And even then: you can't see it if you're not trained to see it.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY INTERFACE?
The Interface is the product, the user experience makes the brand experience. Building better software is not about creating new features. Core features only matter in so far as they define the product in its goal. Features as such don't define the quality. And it doesn't matter so much if features are new or not. Unless they're really great, and then you should make sure that they're conceptual features (see G+ cricles, hangout) and not bells and whistles:

1. The Interface is not what but how. ("The way that you accomplish tasks with a product — what you do and how it responds — that's the interface." Jef Raskin).
2. The critical factor for UI quality is not "new" but "it works better."
3. The interface is not obvious. Just like any other specialist's discipline only a trained eye can see, or better: understand it.

I am not going to name names, but some of those smart techie, VC and social media strategist's comments I have read about Google+ show another thing very clearly:

User Interface Design standards have reached the level of graphic design, industry design and architecture, a level, where only user interface design professionals can discern outstanding work (Google+) from good work (Twitter) and average work (facebook).

And that means also that only user interface design professionals can see the strategic potential of an interface that is so far ahead of its main competitor (facebook). Zuckerberg is not an interface professional, but he can feel it from the reactions Google+ gets. He can feel that this has the potential to now only convince the early adopters, but anyone that likes his social network to be simple fast and efficient (and not just that thing that everybody uses). It's built as a threat and it works as any good threat only because it has the potential to make itself real as the threat that it is defined: To break facebooks quasi monopoly on online user identity.

WHAT IS SO GREAT IN GOOGLE+'s INTERFACE?
1. The Information Architecture: classic and rigid in its floor plan (meta/main/subnavigation) and highly user centered in its interior design (circles and sparks). The circles concept allows you to mirror the way you perceive your social network, it doesn't force us into a certain structure of social interaction (groups and forced two way interaction like facebook or asymetric interaction with often incredibly offensive @interventions)
2. The Interaction Design: Every interaction seems to have been throught trough and designed until it's latest little bits (and those matter as much as the big bits). It even has room for some warmth (like the circle rolling away when you delete it) which is rare for Google's cold UID approach.
3. The Information Design: It is extremely difficult to keep a complicated user interface so light, white and free of lines, boxes and ornaments. The content hierarchy is always clear, color definitions and consistent and clear without labeling them. I am sure that the team had to make some concessions with the global redesign of Google, but I can't see them anywhere.

WHO IS GOING TO KILL WHOM?
I could go on and on about this but at this point most people will be bored. I know what you'd like to hear: Is it going to kill facebook or twitter? (Just so you know: There is nothing more ridiculous than this killer meme, it's so ridiculous that I am not even sure if I shoudl use it ironically...)

Is it the facebook killer?
Google+ makes facebook look like MySpace. And that's bad news for them. Altavista, Yahoo, MySpace and all the other long forgotten online giants have shown one thing: Size and reach online are very volatile. It is so easy to switch brands online that the biggest brands can collapse within a couple of years. You need to stay on the ball. How?

By improving the interface? Yes, but... Improving the facebook interface is going to be one nightmare job. The product is so swollen with useless features and hidden traps that the only way to compete with Google+ is going to start from scratch. And that's a luxury that facebook doesn't have. It's not going to be enough to hire good designers, facebook is flawed deep down in its universitarian symmetric friendship and groups concept (this is why it works so good for collecting old schoolfriends that you don't want to be in touch with anymore).

With Features? Not really... Facebook now quickly adding features before the work as good as Google+ is not going to help. One example: When I heard that facebook is going to integrate skype to offer a hangout feature I thought:

- Wait, but Microsoft owns Skype?
- Why can't they do it by themselves?
- Why integrating a buggy product into a complicated product?
- Are they that nervous?

And as expected that facebook hangout turned out to be crappy. You better skip a feature than adding a broken one.

There is more where this came from, but let's try to wrap this up... With its currentuser base, Facebook will be here for years to come, but if they lose theyr strong point (to be the online identity service whether you like facebook or not) they are doomed to become just a lost school friend's network (that's actually what it was built for). And who wants that? Bored/boring people.

Twitter killer?
Twitter with its 140 character limit is literally made for mobile phones. No matter how much more retina we go with smart phone displays, as soon as you work with much more than 150 characters at the time, information becomes harder and harder to handle and digest on that tiny real estate (I'm not aying you can't read long pieces, but working with big chunks of information on small screens is difficult). So far I haven't been able to use the android app for Google+, but, however awesome it might be, Twitter will always have an advantage because it is conceptually more medium appropriate for mobile interaction.

Twitter also has a conceptual advantage when it comes to sharing links. 140 characters with URLS shortening is just perfect to share one link with a comment, one image or soundfile at a time.

I am definitely going to continue to use Twitter as my public notebook, but I am not sure how much I am still going to interact with it. Google+ has a couple of clear advantages for interactive communication.

1. It gives me more control over dialogues
2. It allows me to elaborate when matters get too complicated for aphorisms
3. It allows me to edit

Sure, a lot of what I particularily enjoy about Google+ right now might be gone pretty soon:

1. There is less berating and knee jerk aggression
2. I know pretty much everyone I interact with
3. No spam or advertisement

In short: I can't see Google+ competing conceptually with Twitter. It's an entirely different beast. Twitter has a more media appropriate concept for mobile interaction, it works great for link sharing, it's more flexible and the people behind it are open eyed, sharp and smart enough to stand their ground. Twitter might suffer short term from losing a lot of digerati to Google+ that are getting tired of the 140 char diet (not every thought likes to come as an aphorism), the spam, the trolling and the tediousness of following conversations around 10 corners.

Okay guys. Enough with the ranting. What do you think?
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111 comments
 
It's the little things... like the faded background when different information is being entered into text boxes. 'Look here!' It screams, without screaming.
 
Great read, plussed, shared and agreed.
 
Great line "Google+ makes facebook look like MySpace"
 
Hmmm... agreed mostly. But I need to use it some more, to see where this is journey is going to go.
 
All valid points as far as I can tell.

Facebook need to be worried. Their bloated system is the one reason I stay off it as much as possible.
I love how simple and elegant google plus is over facebook, and the way it lets me organise people the way I want.

Even after the novelty of the interactions and their effects wear off, the interface is still clean and content focussed.

Twitter is completely different in my opinion, and will remain popular due to its succinct nature.

The question is, will the general public agree?
 
Agreed. Although personally I’m still working out cross-posting btwn G+ and Twitter.
The +1 button is one potential concession. it’s not as bad as search results, but still visually ham-fisted on G+ comments (should be faded monochrome until directly hovered imo).

Google+ is exceptionally well executed. Still, let’s see when they turn the ads on…
 
While reading this I noticed that if there's any new in your stream, it keeeps in the same part of your article, and in FB it just move down…

great insights.
 
Kudos for pointing out the symmetrical relationship enforcement as a major flaw in Facebook. It took G+ to make me realize that. Eye-opening.
 
Really great analysis. I tend to agree with most of what you're saying. I think Google+ could do a much better job aggregating conversations around topics or particular articles/stories. This currently happens on twitter but is so ephemeral and hard to consume. Maybe twitter was never really meant to do that. But the need is definitely there.
 
Great! One of the best analysis of G+ i read in a while (and, well, there were a whole lot of them...) Thank you for sharing this!

It also shows, that sharing long form articles on G+ works very well. Something Facebook couldn't pull of, too. That opens a new perspective on (personal) blogging.
 
You nailed it - now I don't have to write it :))

Zuckerberg is not an interface professional.. <- bang

Twitter is limited to 140 characters <- enough aphorisms.
 
The very fact that you can post this here something like a blog post of something that I think will really take off. Why bother trying to make a blog, maintain it, and all of that hassle when you could just write blog post sized posts on a G+ account?
 
Just great that you posted it on G+ instead of your website. Just goes to show... :)
 
Added to Instapaper and Tumblr :)
 
Just a little thought: Will the concept of circles be accepted by a broader audience? The task of sorting people in itself is perfectly well done. As you said, even the "delete circle" animation is appealing. But the process can easily be overwhelming for users. I can imagine that at some point you just start to over-think which person belongs into which circle. Sure, you can mimic FB by just using one big circle for everybody, but as the the circle concept is so "in the face" it´ll be hard to ignore.

Is contact micro-management only used by power users in FB because it´s badly implemented? Or is it badly implemented in FB because only some power users use it? And how hard will the contact micro-management be at + as soon as girlfriends, ex-girlfriends and new-partners-of-ex-girlfriends-who-I-played-football-with are here?
 
It goes to show just within this one single post how much better the formating is with G+; even a quickly thrown together post looks almost like a professional blog.

As a side note, I do find it amusing just how well formating in G+ integrates with iA Writer. I wrote this comment in Writer and realised I can use all the markdown and just transfer it across with zero changes.
 
You know, I hadn't thought about writing something quite so long on G+ yet, but I think I might be giving it a go in the near future.
 
There are two new beta themes running in Gmail settings as well that simplifies and cleans up the Gmail interface. I suspect these might become the default themes. But it certainly echoes a lot of the design language in G+ (Preview and Preview [dense])
 
I'm a fan of Google+, but that hardly matters. I work in webdesign, and I suspect many posters above me work in similar fields of IT or design. Google+ will only start to take off when people who aren't in these fields start to use it. I'll start thinking Google+ is going places when I see my dad add me to a circle.
 
Excellent article, "Google+ makes facebook look like MySpace" LOL !!!!
 
Thanks for focusing on the real issues ... the IA is a 90't throwback [tight and managed] and yet have thoughtfully integrated some of todays features that matter. I too like the ideas of "circles". Separating my dialogues is important. My family doesn't care too much about my profesional rants. Great article!
 
indeed one of the best analysis of g+ i've read so far. thank you! i am testing it since one week & loving their simple, clean design. i even use the other google products much more often.
 
It's often not so much about what's wrong, but what it should be. In this + case, Google has hit it pretty dead on right from the start, something it hadn't done in awhile.
 
Nice write up. The thing I like most of all about this post is you just shared it with everyone - and I mean everyone. Not just those of us on Google+. I first came across this post via Twitter, before I logged in and read it here. People can link to it, share it on Twitter, Facebook, anywhere. One of the things that has always irked me about Facebook is that content is way too easily 'lost' within it's walled garden. I think Google not only got the design right, but the architecture too.
 
Excellent article. The interface bit sums up what I was discussing with +Ryan Lowdermilk in a hangout last night. Great interface is really important.
 
Couldn't agree more. Can I say WHITE SPACE and GREAT ARCHITECTURE! That's the first thing I noticed when I joined. Nice utilization of space so elements breathe and I then noticed the nice IA. 3 main actions up top with a Home button. All the information was well thought out and very deliberate. I haven't seen or interacted with anything on here that seems half-baked. Which is nice; all of Facebook seems half-baked. Let's hope Google keeps it clean and unbloated.
 
absolutely agree, especially on the how-not-what-approach. the how is what we as UX/interface designers need to focus on. it's what sets great work apart from good work.
 
And, what I really like very much is the potential for microblogging. Google+ combines Twitter and i.e. Tumblr. Have a look: If you klick on the publishing date [16:12 (bearbeitet 16:25)] it will lead you to https://plus.google.com/115711522874757126523/posts/6EbG2uwnE3c, where you can read the single article untroubled and focussed. And with some microformatting, like boldface, capitals and paragraphs (or in combination) the article will present itself clear and beautiful! +Oliver Reichenstein, you have made use of Google+ in a perfect way! Of course.
 
What I find most notable about the interface is that it doesn't force you to use it in a specific way. I really enjoy a more invisible interface, so to speak. In a book I read recently, they talk about a simple interface as something like a great knife. Simple to understand and use -- allowing for varying degrees of mastery. A professional chef could cut the hell out of some vegetables faster than the average person, but the average person can still use it for cutting. Comparing the UIs of Google+ to Facebook is like a well-balanced knife versus a cluttered kitchen full of gadgets you buy on TV to chop things up.

There can be beauty in limitations, but sometimes too much limitation brings complexity -- As you mentioned, the Twitter 140 character limit. For an average user, like my mom, she would become frustrated when posting and trying to think about how to say something within that limit. For me, I see the limit has a good purpose. The difference is I am not part of the broader audience, and it will be interesting to see if Google+ can be appealing to them.
 
Agreed but more importantly, I like that you're BLOGGING on G+. ;-)
 
+Oliver Reichenstein While benefitting from the same network 'reshare' effect as Tumblr and Twitter, you can get instant gratification on G+ by people +1'ing your posts and commenting on it where on Twitter, you need to actually search for retweets and/or comments, shattered all over the place. It gets even worse if you're the reader of a tweet, you don't know how to put a certain tweet in perspective if you can't see the retweets and replies behind it.
 
+Oliver Reichenstein I think the civility comes from the fact that everyone is using their full, real name, and their profile is just a click away.
 
That doesn't stop some people, I think its because we're all intelligent early adopters ;-)
 
+matt kersley That definitely helps! It would be useful going forward if Google added a block feature inline so any dullards could be dispatched forever without having to visit their profile page.
 
I have a 13" MacBook. Lots of students have 13" screens. I can't even sort people into circles. The whole app is designed for 24" monitors that you watch, TV style, far away from your face. It's a POOR UX, unless they don't give a damn about people who live on their compact laptops. In an economy with an evaporating middle class, if you want all the non-wealthy non-Google employees, who live in rooms and work in wifi hotspots to adopt, you had better be compatible with laptops.
 
+Oliver Reichenstein Funnily enough, the reason that I started following you on Twitter is because of that very post... I ended up spending my whole evening reading your articles, and then bought your wordpress theme for my own site (still under development!).
 
Had to share with my friends! Thanks{!}
 
"Size and reach online are very volatile. It is so easy to switch brands online that the biggest brands can collapse within a couple of years." Truer than ever!
 
The way you're using it right now, Oliver, it might in fact even replace the article section of informationarchitects.jp.

Recently Google renamed its services/products (how should we call them, actually?) Picasa and Blogger to Google Photos and Google Blogs - enabling further integration and brand recognition. One of the big advantages Google has over FaceBook, is that we all use Google Search a few times a day - being just one or two clicks away from Google+.

"Size and reach online are very volatile." I'm not so sure... Many people have been putting a lot of their own content to sites like Twitter, Facebook and other services - making it much harder to move your content, your contacts and built up reputation. For many people Facebook and Twitter are part of their online identity - including the people they surrounded themselves with online.
 
Oliver Reichenstein — I think +Jessica Margolin is referring to the fact there isn't nearly enough vertical real estate on 13" laptops for the Circles interface.

Try it on your Macbook Air. It's pretty painful and inefficient.
 
Well written and interesting piece - but you are wrong about Twitter. It's toast now. Just sayin`...
 
Great posting. I never had a Facebook account but I love G+ so far. I hope they do not clutter it with too much unneeded stuff though.
 
Very interesting post. Thank you.
 
Now can we have this as a linkable, stand-alone post?
 
You hit the nail on the head... great article.
 
Agree wholeheartedly. I like the way you've quoted Raskin's ' The Interface is the Product' - I used to have this quote on our office wall. Like other articles/presentations you've written, you've cut through the jargon, and focussed on what really counts - in this case, great IA and UI Design.

There is something surprisingly humane about G+ UI, which reminds me of the first time I used a Mac in the System 7 days (I know about the Andy Hetrzfeld connection BTW). Remember 'blessed' system folders, Sad Mac Icon, etc? - these little details made you care about the product in a way that was quite hard to define. Also makes me wonder if Apple needs to ditch the kitsch photo-real aesthetic and get some of that humanity back.

Great article. Well done Google, and looking forward to seeing what is round the corner!
 
The fact that I can read an article this good Here and +1 it Here and share it Here, gives Google+ a big fucking +1 from me.

Add the incredible UI talked about in the article and the way the mobile web version of it is the best ever and we have a winner! :)
 
Brilliant post! I don't think Twitter will be affected by this, because twitter has an entirely different purpose. It's on the go posting, with just enough characters to say what you need (and most often what no one cares about). It's a comfortable mobile platform and you can see that they haven't tried to go much beyond that one base concept. As long as they keep that one purpose effective, it will stay around.

FB on the otherhand is groaning from the weight of their own bloated system. They have gone TOO far from their original "interconecting people" concept and suffered what I call the Microsoft Syndrom: "we will give you everything, including all the stuff you don't want or need, and you will like it." This always results in resource hogging programming and clunky cluttered interfaces that are more migraine inducing than anything else. If you want to be able to do all that stuff then make them optional add ons. You want the chat? click here You want skype integration click here You want games? click here Instead all these features are forced upon you, and you have to spend half the damn day just denying invites.

+Melle Wynia "For many people Facebook and Twitter are part of their online identity - including the people they surrounded themselves with online." That much is true, but a networking tool is only useful for as long people are on it. People start leaving, no matter how much work you've put into it, there is no point in keep using it. Myspace is still around, but if what you want to do is use it as a networking tool... well... you are half a decade to late :(
 
I heard the argument a lot about "will it work for all the non-geeks". I think this is out of question, since Google has an enormous user base already installed (almost 200 million Gmail users) and they will enroll it to many Google Apps bit by bit. While their other services (Gmail and search engine) work that well, you dont have much of a choice when they make you a +buddie (and, yes, I think people will like it). Its openess is another argument for a successful path next to FB (so I agree to +Melle Wynia )
Rafal J
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So in my opinion G+ make a big problem for tumblr.
 
Great article.
Perhaps - I refer to +Jessica Margolin 's comment - Google+ interface for Circles should be a little more fluid/responsive expecially with smaller screens like the ones used in Macbook 13" (and other laptops too).
I mean, white space is a very great thing and I like it so much, but also responsiveness/fluidity is not that bad.
Now I'm on a MacBook Pro 15" (I usually use an iMac 24" so - really - no problems for me), but if you try to stretch your browser's window you find how a 13" laptop user see the page and, in fact, there is space for little improvements.
 
Tumblr still has the anonimity factor though. Which G+ can have too, but don't know if that will be the way the users will go.
 
+Neil Smith +Oliver Reichenstein - I do think that the current design has still left the doors open for the trolls. It's just that they haven't got their invites yet. How long before we see "FIRST" appearing on excellent posts like this?
 
+Dean Birkett - funnily enough, I did see a First post earlier today. The First thing I did was block them!

I think you are right, the Trolls always get in eventually - but I am going to try and remain optimistic.
 
Oliver, I very much want to share this on Twitter and FB. I enjoyed it. Thank you!
ad th
 
Thank you all for this really great UI lesson! but it takes so much time to read it all... (and i contribute to this long reading moment :)
g+ is verbose... and there's nothing to do against this fact. twitter is a good tool to embrace the "multitude" in a glance.
I think i'll need to export "readitlater" great g+ posts... with the tumblr bookmarklet? http://adthierry.tumblr.com/#7356992961
I hope there will still be a web out... please google, give us feeds... ReallySimplesSyndication feeds... so that we can build by ourselves
 
Great article. I've been in love with the UI since I first saw it, I think G+ has great potential.
One of the things G+ does better than FB is Photos. A nice, uncluttered, dark interface with all the info "on the back". And the images remain high-quality!
 
Agreed. The UI is great, esp. a product just out of the gate. Find I'm spending much more time here.

While I'm cross posting from here to Twitter when I find something interesting, if need to find something specific I'm still searching Twitter, first. Part of this is the ability to search by hashtag & add "http" so the results are filtered to only include Tweets w/ links, i.e. #css3 #tutorial http. Part is that there are a few hundred million people posting to Twitter. Regardless of the topic, in all likelihood someone, somewhere has tweeted about it. And part is that Sparks is effectively non-functional. The G+ team really needs to improve the realtime aspect and to include results from G+ Streams and comments. At this point, in my opinion, the blended results on a Google web search return both a greater number and more often than not results that are more contextually relevant.

On UI improvements... integrate Google Translate so that we could apply it to either a stream or comment or even to highlight a section & then click Translate.
 
Another reason why I think twitter is not "threatened" by Google+ is its different approach to privacy. Basically people get it that on twitter by default everything is public, period.

One of the big strengths of Google+ over facebook is that using circles there's a very easy to use and easy to understand approach to selective sharing of information¹ and privacy which facebook doesn't have.

On facebook that feature is tucked and hidden away under too many layers of clicks and bad UI design. Yet people often have this false feeling of privacy, partly because it's not really clear what parts of your facebook information and profile are public and which aren't by default.
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¹pitfalls included—resharing posts, but hey, it's day 5 and we're still in closed beta
 
Did you pause after placing a comment or writing that post to look for the post button v. hitting enter? Fanning photos like a touch interface isn't a bell and whistle? That said, I'm intrigued by G+ and that's because it's not telling me what it does. How would I even know what I'm doing on there? B+ is like a bunch of stuff to do without an indicator of what it means and I don't care. We'll just figure it out as we go along, together. That's what's refreshing.
 
Still, I think there is plenty of room for improvement. Be careful about loving it too much Oliver!

When someone have fallen in love (with a person, brand, product, or, I suppose, an interface) it's almost as though a switch has been thrown and our mind is suppressing most of its usual fault-finding critics.
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/minsky07/minsky07_index.html
 
I totally agreed on the importance of the interface and I also think there are far too less experts and it´s underestimated. So, thanks very much for the article.
 
I really like the fact that a heavy like google, traditionally known for data analyzing every design decision to death, has shown that vision, sensibility, and thoughtful experience design matter just as much.

For this alone I hope that google plus is immensely successful and that the role of web experience design takes its rightful equal place at the innovation table.

Designers everywhere should be thankful for the precedent/example set by this. It's like google has gone back to it's original simple sensibility with plus.

I like it. +1
 
Oliver, you have got to turn this Google+ piece in a standalone article. A truly remarkable read. I think there is a reason why I am reading this on Google+ instead of any other website, isn't it?
 
Twitter is good UI-work? I hope you don't mean the website.
 
i agree with marcel. the mobile and tablet apps are quite good. the website´s missing the quote functionality.
 
+Jessica Margolin can't believe it is the screen size. google+ including circle works fine on my 11" samsung netbook
 
+Kay Siegert - quote would be nice, I think the sharing needs more work though. It's good, but there doesn't appear to be a way to unshare information once it is published (apart from deleting). If I share with 4 circles, and after publishing realise it is only relevent to 3, there doesn't seem to be a way to remove that circle. (but this is going off on a tangent - sorry!)
 
Great review. Another cool thing about the interface, to me, is its integration with the Google bar at the top. For those of us who have already been using Gmail, Google Calendar, etc., this makes G+ feel like the social network that stands at the middle of all our services. I don't need any email notifications from my social network about anything, now, and I can navigate between all these services so quickly and easily that they feel like one big service. With the +1 button in Google Search, the design starts to feel like the internet itself is a part of G+.
 
why don´t google+ and facebook stick their navigation bars to the browser frame instead of scrolling it with the content? Twitter did a great job there. They have the best implementation of an endless scrolling content area.
 
Reading the comments on this article really makes you believe in the internet as a discussion forum again. Impressive.

Reg. the comment on the screen size, please use the feedback button in the right corner of ever page on Google+. There is a whole team waiting on the other end for smart comments on things to improve, like the ones already present here...
 
+Kay Siegert: At least for Google+ there is a Chrome extension that lets you do exactly that. Very useful indeed.
 
+Oliver Reichenstein I agree with you and in fact I wrote it. I only said that with some little improvements in white space everything would be perfect also for 13" laptops. Perhaps. I never said - and I will never say - that "Google doesn't care about the middle class", who am I to say so? Anyway, again, great article yours. Online I can only find articles like "wow, Google+ is great!" or "wow, Google+ is more or less like Facebook". Not so much interesting...
 
Apart from "Google+ makes facebooklook like MySpace." I liked your point of view. Anyway, I see also some differences. Let me know what you think about those:

MySpace had an identification problem. Who was its target audience? Musicians? Professionals or amateurs? Or was is the nice girl and smart boy from the next door, who has been aimed by MySpace? The situation has been totally unclear. You didn´t know whether you were the target group or not. Am I wrong?

However, in case of Facebook the situation was/is more transparent. It was and is a social network for "real" people, who want to be friended in order to exchange real life information with each other. And it enabled to exchange any kind of information, while MySpace was pimarry provided music related content. MySpace has limited itself. FB could grow so fast, because it enabled any kind of people to share anything with each other. Not only music related news!

And this was the reason, why MySpace hadn´t any chance to survice, once the hype around FB started. How many times did MySpace changed its content strategy to compete with FB? First they tried to establish a social network around music, then they tried to make out of it a prof. promotion platform. And at the end, the failed fully!

Anyway,I see following problem for G+. It is not a secret, that the former features of Google has been preferred by people who are interested in technology. Casual people had and will have again problems to use the powerful social tools of G+. I'm willing to bet even a dinner for this! The provided features are the right tools; only the way how to use them is for casual people a little bit complex.

The unique change Google made this time is, that they gathered everything at a global place. And this is a huge step forward! All the previous tools (wave etc.) were distracted at different places. But still, there is an unsolved problem. And it is similiar to MySpace one, I explained at the beginning: Why should people use G+? This question couldn´t be answered yet. I guess the answer to this question will also affect a lot the further UI/UX of G+.

I claim the exact opposite of that, what you said. As I wrote also in Paul Adam´s post, G+ will be the place for public conversations in long-term, since Facebook "limits" users social shares on their social graphs. G+ feels currently like an advanced/modernTwitter rather than a private social network as Facebook. I mean you can even organize people into circles, without beeing “friended” with them. It is in a way like listing people in Twitter, isn´t it?

Harry Gold's points summarizes the whole FB/G+ discussions in the best way: "So while every week there is news fanning the flames and buzz around the feud between Facebook and Google, the reality is they will both continue to grow and make huge amounts of money. The real deal is not Facebook vs. Google; it's the Facebook/Google juggernaut vs. all other forms of media companies [...]". So true!
 
Smart question! Advertising $$$ Punching k.o. other social media - especially FB?
 
People will have to decide which is worse, the problems of relationship management on other platforms or starting over on yet-another-social-network -- something I have already heard complaints over. Even though it can be refreshing to have a clean slate, the patience you can expect from users grows smaller each time a jump is made to another platform; which is why it's increasingly critical to get things right.
 
As much as I like FB, G+ design is simple. Perhaps too simple. I prefer simple to complex any day of the week though. And don't get me started on FB apps.

The UI is just an extension of the philosophy: G+ is about simple social interactions with the ability to prioritize how you interact with whom. FB is about connecting equally to as many people in as many ways as possible. I definitely prefer G+ in this respect.
 
@+Pavle Jovanović They said the same thing about Facebook when MySpace was all the rage. MySpace became too hectic, but Facebook was exclusive, simple, and consistent. Sounds like today's FB and G+, respectively.
 
Yes, maybe it it the sign of times.... Great article, indeed. Facebook has reached a turnaround point and this quick and dirty Skype integration can be the clearest way to understand that. What do you think +Jorge Dieguez Cobo and +José Manuel Martín and Mario Jiménez
 
Very nice write up. I am a huge fan of minimalist design, so the UI of G+ resonates with me. The difference in appearance between Facebook and G+ is like looking at the cover of Better Homes & Garden versus Dwell. It's clutter versus clean. In my book, clean wins every time. It's clear to me that Google gets that, and has been revamping most of its sites to reflect a new, cleaner interface. Google sites and services has always had some identifiable characteristics, but are doing a nice job tying this new minimal look and feel across the board.

I'm interested to hear what's going on with your Android app? I haven't used it much, but it does work.
 
Why do I have to scroll so much? Too much white space.
 
+Oliver Reichenstein i agree. but you can read the posts, even the large posts, very well in the google+ app, too. i would say, that reading on mobile devices is less a problem than writing on them. i could imagine, that google+ is able to take over the role of twitter, because all you can do on twitter, you can do on google+, too, and you don't have to switch to another tab, but have the twitter-functionality integrated in one user interface. in addition you can simply post private posts incl. links with circles, by creating a private circle and adding only your own contact; in twitter you have to switch to another account, which is set on private.

+Pavle Jovanović google+ can gain people with the quality of posts, whose abstracts are post in facebook, too; so that the facebook-people know where to go, when they want to read the whole post.
 
I find it gets really hard to read through everyone's opinions (even though I really want to because they are usually really interesting).
It makes me wonder how many other thoughts I was missing on Facebook or how much conversation was going on from one post that I never saw on Twitter.
I wonder how many people will read this comment..
 
This is such a good read in so many ways. Consider yourself circled.
 
Some people complain about problem with laptop screen size. The circle UI is very good but is a bit difficult to use with the small screen of a laptop or a netbook when you add many circles. A little Google + tip, it is easier to search people with the find people box and click the button add to circle on the profile page than using the circle UI. You can add people to an existing circle or create a new one. I hope it will help people with laptop or netbook.
 
All good points. Even this early in beta, I have seen a huge migration of friends from Facebook, even if just to check it out. I suspect once Google+ is fully open to populate, we will see the herds crossing the river to get here. I don't know if Facebook will die in the same way My__ did, but they will feel it for sure.
 
Google+ mobile web is much better than I expected. Actually makes long-form posts very easy to read. Big win there. Still not sold on the rest of G+...yet.
 
I have to agree with +Corey Brinkmann.
My hope is that the existence of Google+ will push Facebook towards greater user-friendliness. Competition isn't just good for the consumer-- it's good for the end user, too.
The best possible outcome, I think, would be Facebook realizing the niche it fills. Twitter has done a fantastic job allowing other developers to jump in and help organize unimpeded dialogue into followable conversation (exquisitetweets, shuush, tweetdeck), and I think as a company it was able to do that because it had clarity of vision.
 
Oliver, it's a great article you wrote. What is equally great, though, is a number of interesting people who commented under your article; I'm spent a lot of time reading comments and I'm going to follow many of you, guys.

Regarding "killing" theme, I like the following phrase (already forgot author) ,
g+*won't kill Facebook but it will push it to be more open

P.S. I agree with +Maurizio "ilpiac" Piacenza and +Jessica Margolin that Circles tab needs some re-work for smaller screens. I was trying to update Circles on my Samsung Chromebook and it was hard.
 
Apple(I own an IPod Nano) rocks because of its user interface. So, does Google plus. The one thing which is not up to the mark is "Sparks", but I guess it will improve with more people using it.
 
Of course, ironically, the +1 in all these comments are broken and weird looking. Which makes the UI a lot harder to use when I want to +1 someone.

[slide whistle]
 
Google Plus is missing a big feature that it needs to kill facebook: events. If someone can write a program to get the facebook event invites into G+ and then, gradually over that will win me. But events are half of facebook to me now.
 
Great post, thanks Oliver. But at the moment I'm mostly seeing my powerUser friends and contacts (mostly professional) coming to g+. I wish all others could also come over here but I'm not sure they'll make the effort. Most of them did this effort adding Facebook as the 3rd website (they already had google for search and an email service) to their habits, but are the differences enough to make them switch? I fear they will not understand especially why to lose something important (their current friends / audience) to get benefits that they don't especially care about (imo, as they don't care that much about this control, as their circles are smaller and they also spend less time online). What's the tipping point to have your mother joining you on g+?
 
The circles are nice, but I don't see myself using them very often. After all my posts are relevant to everybody. When I want to address a small crowd then I prefer mail over Google+. On the other hand I would like to have better tools for filtering the posts created by other people. How do I avoid shared links and location based posts without unsubscribing completely.

I am not a UI expert, but I get the feeling that Google+ provides a neat solution to the wrong problem.
 
I totally agree about the UI design. Google+ will become the new standard. This is also going to be a huge challenge to designers and developers. Facebook set the UI standards few years ago - it's got to be all ajax or it's just not good. Developers were caught up pants down. Content management systems and heavy integrations... heavy, unusable stuff. Customers all around the world are disappointed as their expectations are not met.

Facebook does tech really well but they suck at UX and making features really good. For instance, if you get married (I just did :), you're not offered to change your last name while changing your relationship status. If you like birthday wishes too much, you are punished by facebook as they think you're abusing people. Sharing is difficult, friend lists are hardly usable, iPhone app sucks big time. I can't make a comment since I know it's going to be posted on other people's wall. And the whole let's think messages and chat are the same - whoa, I don't understand why they don't seems to understand things. "we just roll out and see if people like it or not". Wrong way. All those big and little things add up and ta-da, you have a MySpace.

Now the bar is raised to a whole new level. Google on the other hand has had unlimited funding to really figure out what's wrong with Facebook, and perfect every little detail. Technical superiority meets great UX is simply magical. But I bet the success of Google+ has a lot to do with learning the hard way with Buzz and Wave. Startups can launch early and learn on the way but that's not the way for a social media site. First impression is all you got.

Now that there's a great example of how to pull out really great UX, it's going to be really, really hard for all the developers and designers. Once people get used to amazing UX, nobody will accept anything thats ok or even good.

Still, google has a geek reputation. And the privacy thing - it's really scary too. If I ever want to know any detail about my life, I should just ask google. They have my email, photos, blogs, status updates, my every google search, chrome browser history, mobile & location data. They know the people I'm friends with (and who I'm just posing to be friends with). They know where I go, who I hang out with. Hell, they can even tell me what is my favorite aperture for shooting photos and suggest that I should carry my tripod more often so that I don't ruin my photos with too large ISO values. They could just automatically profile my data and let me know a bunch of stuff about myself that I don't even know. For all the data they have on me, they could literally suggest me accurate daily routines and automatically fill in my calendar. Now that US gov get's pretty much open access to all this data - well - I'm lucky I don't live in the USA.

Still. I love the great UX so much I'm just going to ignore my privacy concerns and start using Google+. Well done, Google. Well done.
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