Google+ today unveiled the new and improved interface for the website on desktop and mobile devices. It is a responsive approach with a strong Material Design presence (no big surprise there).
They even did us the honor of doing a case study on the work they did to the website.
The website is loads faster than the previous version, and has a whole lot of potential. But aside from the visual overhaul, responsive design, and speed they’ve also tightened their focus.
Communities and Collections
As is no surprise, to those who were paying attention and using Google+, they’ve tried to narrow the focus in this redesign. They are spending the bulk of the energy on focusing in on Communities and Collections which have been the hotbeds of usage for the Google+ users lately.
A lot of news and tech sites are reacting in classic fashion to the redesign. They are acting surprised, when we knew changes were coming ever since the Photos and Streams announcements. They are also acting confused by the focus on Communities and Collections. But the reality is for the users of Google+, this is where the action is at in Google+ these days.
New focus shows Google is paying attention to their users
A lot of these tech sites and news stories are claiming that Google has shifted Google+ to be some sort of Pinterest or Reddit competitor. But this is the way the social networking site has been being used. Google is just designing the website to reflect the usage, and make it easier and better for its users.
It also shows that the new Google+ leadership takes their job seriously. They are taking the product in the direction that most makes sense with its current usage. That’s not a stupid beating of a dead horse, ghost town thingy bopper. That’s called reviewing the data, trimming fat, and making the decisions that most make sense. Kudos to the new leaders at Google+, it looks good.
The Ghost Town Rides Again!
And of course, as it always happens, it is time to beat the dead horse that is the Ghost Town theory. For years people have ridiculed Google+, calling it a ghost town. Every time Google pays some attention to it, adds a new feature, tweaks a font, then they are there to proclaim it.
Google+ is a ghost town.
But that’s not what the numbers are saying. And for those who use it, that’s not how they see it.
Notice in the chart above, that Google+ shows 343 monthly active users (as of January 2015). Those numbers place Google+ well below Facebook, that’s true. But it places it above Skype, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and even Snapchat. Are these networks and messengers ghost towns, too? I wonder.
If you’ve managed to get through the ridiculous mess that is the reporting on Google+, please know that it isn’t dead. It is very much alive. It never was a ghost town. And as the new redesign comes to maturity, now is a time to help shape the future of the redesign. There is a feedback link in the left navigation menu of Google+, so if there is something missing that you feel needs to be added back or something new you’d like to see, let them know. Maybe you’ve found a bug, or a weird design flaw, report that too. If I’ve learned anything from my time on Google+, it’s that they actually care about what their users think of their product. I don’t get that impression with Facebook or Twitter. They move where the money takes them, not where their users ask them to go.