When I first heard of Google+, I had immediate faith in it. After its growth from the world’s search engine into a host of web applications and even some desktop apps, Google has come a very long way, and is improving faster and faster. Practically no one used Google’s Orkut, a smaller-in-scale social network. But Google+ is quickly becoming adopted as the next large scale social network. But can everyone make the switch over from Facebook?
There were several factors when I had been using MySpace that convinced me that I would eventually give in and create myself a Facebook. Compared to Facebook, MySpace looked like a kid’s toy. Psychedelic MySpace profile themes, flash advertisements galore, text and pics scattered everywhere. There was no question that I knew eventually all of my friends would end up using Facebook. Here are the factors that caused me to switch:
- the use of a full name for a screen name. Although back then privacy seemed to be an issue and people wanted to hide their identities online, identifying someone by their actual name makes them easier to find and recognize.
- professional design. A small box for ads, a constant blue and white theme, and consistency through profile pages.
- applications. The Facebook page was customized by the addition of Facebook-developed or third-party apps and games, but could only be organized a certain way on the profile, making a profile not only unique, but compatible with others’. I say ‘was’ because apps can no longer be added to normal user profiles. Though this made profiles nearly identical, they no longer seemed unique by the decor that users added.
- ‘poking‘ actions. One creative feature where poking is an action used to send just any reminder or signal to a friend. App developers got even more creative with this and produced more actions than just poking. As of now, poking seems to have gotten lost with the apps themselves.
- the mini-feed. Every profile could have a small stream of news at the top of their page, noting simply things that the user did recently, including updating their status. This was brilliant, as one could check how much a friend’s page was used, and status updates were small and reserved in the top corner of the home page.
Since I first got a Facebook, a number of changes has rolled out and completely changed the look and feel of the site. I am not a supporter of any of it, save for the chat bar and its real-time notifications. That was something we had never seen. However, the simplifying of the page, creation of tabs, removal of profile application boxes, and the overall transformation of every Facebook page into one large stream of information were unnecessary modifications that did not enhance any user experience.
Google+ attempts to take the best out of Facebook and Twitter. It is a mesh of the two, combining the concept of follows and followers into individuals’ profiles and pictures. This is not exactly what I was expecting; these ideas are not the innovation I came to love from Facebook. Simplification, simplification, simplification. Facebook already took the route of save itself from the success of Twitter. Google+ is in danger of making the same mistake. Don’t be “similar but better”. Facebook knows it is in danger, and it’s taking action. Google is not going to make itself popular by living off the the ideas of others. Gmail introduced many innovations to email. Google+ should do the same.