It has been more than a month since Google+ announced its new design, so I thought it is a good moment to reflect on how the changes have affected the way I use the platform. If I am being honest, they really haven’t.

Despite the way G+ neatly integrates my Gmail contacts into the social site and combines this with a considerably growing amount of good content, the platform’s catch-all style feels too broad to be practical. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest are increasingly becoming more specialised in their purposes (you could say – private, professional, public and picturesque respectively) and yet Google’s attempt to combine these four in one is a rather ambitious (and some may argue miscalculated) task!

Nevertheless, there are a couple of things I like about the new Google Plus layout, and here are three of them:

Segmentation of contacts

There is now even more white space on Google Plus. I am wondering if this is a pro or con, and am more inclined to see it as a positive. Even though navigation still feels unintuitive, (and now hidden) the reason why I like the new layout is the top line that consistently provides the opportunity to switch between the newsfeeds of your friends, family, colleagues, pages or in whatever other groups you categorise your contacts.

Hashtags

Google+ is the first platform to make the use of hashtags less manual and more interactive. They are removed from the main body of the post, they are clickable, and so easy to use. In the post below, the hashtag #TechNews appears in a separate pull-out box, and once clicked, opens a river of news based on that hashtag without opening a new page. If you are not interested in the news pulled by the hashtag, it is equally easy to get back to the original post.

 

Easy navigation in photo albums

Once you’ve browsed through a collection of photos, you are given a few interactive choices to continue your journey. You can choose between other albums of the same user or photos that are generally trending.

 

Users seem to like G+’s ability to identify trending photos – and yet the example above shows the paradox of the platform: if you are browsing through some charts and figures and on the right hand side you are suggested to take a look at trending pictures, you are seamlessly moved from work to leisure in one click. The platform’s catch-all style fires back in its propensity to distract. Distract from work to leisure and vice versa. This is one of the reasons I use it so infrequently. It will be interesting to see how the platform evolves in the future, and whether it will become more specialised and less broad. Time will tell!

© Google. Logo.

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