Analysis: UI and IA

Hi all! Welcome to the first official blog post! This post will outline the overall look, feel, and functionality of the Google+ social media platform through the mildly-biased-lens of me, Allen Nguyen.

Before we begin, I’d like to say that if you have a Gmail, technically, you already are a Google+ member, as an account is automatically created for you. You navigate through the site through the tabs you see in the sidebar, which is viewable at all times #convenience. Each tab is also color-coordinated and the entire site has a decent balance of white space, making the site very nice to look at in my opinion. On the upper-right hand side of your screen, you can log in and out through your google account icon as well as check your G+ notifications by clicking the bell icon.  Now let’s move on to the homepage.

Homepage

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The homepage consists of columns of photo or video posts that are related to content specific to topics you follow through “Collections” and “Communities” (as you can see above and that we will get into that later). As a new member, the homepage will be nonspecific; it will be littered with content related to topics that are trending or currently popular on Google+. There are also “Recommended for you” posts on the homepage as well, which is kinda odd because I have no activity on here. After searching, it seems that you receive recommendations when “individuals find recommended content in their stream through the process of someone in their circles +1ing a post.” Even more puzzling as I do not follow or have any active circles (loneliness starting to become apparent here…). So how do they know? I don’t know. Google Spies? Probably, but now onto Collections. Conveniently you can add your own posts with that little pencil icon on the bottom-right of your screen.

Collections and Communities

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.16.50 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.26.57 PM.png

Next, you have “Collections” and “Communities” which are basically the same thing. In them, you can find a never-ending list (yes, I checked) of pages devoted to a certain topic that you can ‘subscribe’ to (you “follow” collections and “join” communities as if becoming a “member”. Once subscribed, the content will then be featured on your homepage. On the top of the page, you can check what collections and communities you are following and your own created ones. I found it convenient that you can easily unfollow a collection without accessing the page; something that “Communities” requires and can become a pain when unfollowing multiple accounts.

Profile

“Profile is pretty easy to understand, you can manage/edit your profile feature here which includes your personal information, picture, profile banner, bio, and create new content.

People

Another easy tab. This is where you can find the people you follow. You can sort these people into categories called “circles,” such as putting family members that you follow under the “family” circle. Circles can be created and deleted at anytime.

Events

Very much like Facebook Events, this tab allows you to create a page for a scheduled event. You can invite individuals from “People” to either an event or hangout (not to be confused with Google Hangouts). Not sure why they separate them exactly…

The Rest

I think you can figure these out… “Notifications”, “Settings”, and “Help” are all features that most social media platforms use and they work the same way for the most part. The only really different tab is “Send Feedback”. This opens a quick window above your current one that automatically screenshots your current screen (within the limites of your browser). This is a very easy way to report an issue or bug with Google+ by simply highlighting the area you see the bug in the screenshot.

Opinions

Nothing really special, I believe there are other social media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest that does the same thing as what Google+ is trying to do. If anything, the “send Feedback” feature is the only fascinating and differentiating thing.

Analysis: Target

My initial reaction to the new and improved Google+ site was that they were shooting for a generally young target. This is due to the very apparent similarity to Pinterest, a social media platform focused on a younger generation that looks VERY SIMILAR to Google+, and even the user interface feels the same (read more about their comparisons on my blog post here). Contrary to that belief, according to Statista, “13.3 percent of U.S. Google Plus users were between 18 and 24 years old.” Google Plus’s actual largest user age range was 25-34 (24.1% of users), with the age range 35-44 coming in second with 22.6% of the total users as of December 2016. Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 9.25.39 PM

So why is it that their main audience is being attracted from these age ranges, and are they truly the people that Google+ is trying to target?

My answer to the ladder is YES. Google+ in the past has seen monumental failures; almost rendered completely dead, Google has entirely repositioned itself to become a social platform for adults in the workforce to connect with one another. I believe it is due to the fact that, for any growing business or organization and even personal brands, building a Google+ account is considered essential. This is due to Google+ being the largest search engine in the world and YouTube being the second largest search engine. Google gives top search engine optimiation priority to sites that are attached to a Google+ account (however, the account must have content, so don’t just make a dummy account). This draws adult professionals onto the platform for the business benefits. This makes Google+ a unique place for people to gather, because it has become (or is trying to become) a place where people can gather and share ideas, while also receiving real-world benefits in their careers (two birds, one stone, amirite?). I mean, this is even the main reason I chose to write about Google+, I thought that if I was to learn about something, it might as well be something that has a real impact on me in the future¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Final Verdict

So, the final words that I’m 50% sure you have been dying to hear for me: Would I use it? NO-ish. There isn’t much that is differentiating this product from other sites. It also doesn’t look like Google is actually creating engaging stuff for their users; it looks like they made it for people to connect and talk and just left… Which might have been fine if they were a leader in the social media world, but since they aren’t, they need to do more.

 

 

 

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