Last week, all of us at A2Z finally received our invites for Google Plus (Google+). In this post, I’m going to share a few of my initial thoughts, reactions and expectations after a few days of exploring Google’s brand new social networking site.
Upon entering Google+ for the first time there were a few things that instantly caught my attention. The first of these being the minimalist design and layout. Everywhere you go on the site, you see a lot of white space and the content is given center stage. A clean and minimal design is not only easy on the eyes, but it also makes navigation simple and quick and lets you focus on the content and interaction. Another great feature to the design and integration of Google Plus is the gray toolbar that we recently saw show up at the of the page when you’re logged into your Google account. This not only allows the user to switch from Google Plus to Gmail to your Calendar and more, but it also sports a notification box for your Google Plus, allowing you to receive notifications regardless of which tool you’re using in your Google account.
As with the rest of the social networking site, your profile sticks with the same minimalist look. You have your information page that displays all of the information about yourself that you choose to put out there. With each piece of information that you place on your About page, you also choose the type of people that you want that to be available to (i.e. Friends, Family, Everyone, etc.). Your Posts tab simply shows all of your posts that you’ve sent out. Your profile does not have a wall for people to write on. All interaction is done from the stream, which essentially makes sharing and interacting a hybrid between Facebook and Twitter.
Circles have been of the most talked about feature in Google Plus. Rather than sending friend requests like on Facebook, Google Plus allows you to add people to various Circles that you have created. Just because you add them to your Circle, doesn’t mean they have to add you. It’s the equivalent to following people on Twitter and adding them to a list. Another plus (no pun intended) to this feature is that allows you to be selective with who you share posts with. Let’s say that your Circles are titled Family, Friends, Co-Workers and Clients. If you’re sharing an update about your vacation, you may not want that seen by clients, but only friends and family. Likewise, not everything you share with clients may be relevant to your cousins. Circles makes online sharing and interaction a little more similar to interacting with your different circles of friends in real life.
Hangouts allows you to do group video chat with your Google Plus connections. This may not be something that everyone will have need of, but I can see this really being used for online business meetings, study groups, etc.
It seems that after a few failed attempts at social networking, Google has finally struck gold. Google Plus is estimated to hit 20 Million users this weekend and admission to the site is still by invitation only. Admission to Google Plus will be available to the public on July 31st. This makes Google Plus the fastest growing social network ever. There’s a lot of talk about how Google Plus could take down Facebook or even knock out Twitter and to be honest, it’s hard to fully agree with that. Will some people leave those sites altogether to put more focus on this new site? Maybe. Most people, though, will not completely leave Facebook, even the ones who have been feeling “Facebook fatigue” lately. I see great success in Google’s social networking future and look forward to seeing more updates and refinements to the site.