[Takes off Gloves…]
I disagree with most other power users / old schoolers in having so many ways a user can customize the way their stream comes in (i.e. volume controls).
Although I do think there should be different types of streams available, I don’t think that a user should have to go through the work of setting it up and customizing it. Power-users don’t mind doing the grunt work, but honestly it’s a cop out and a massive turn off to any new users.
The fact that we have to manage the stream by organizing circles and setting volumes is weak. Google has the capacity to carry out the same goal without users having to micromanage their circles and set volumes.
They have our data and usage statistics. They know exactly how we use the site, what type of content we like, who we interact with and how. This data should be used to make multiple algorithms (equations that figure the flow of the stream) available for a user to select from.
For Example, There Could Be:
- a “What’s Hot” stream based on popularity.
- a “Recommended Content” stream based on shared interests and shared social graph.
- a “Interests” stream not taking social into consideration.
- a “Social Stream” not taking interests into consideration.
It Just Works
They can cook this up behind the scenes, and user just automatically is immersed in the full experience of Google Plus. Managing Circles is strictly for organizing who you want to post to, but is not required. This is what I go into depth in my post titled “Making Google+ the Best Social Network” under the hashtag #MakingGooglePlusTheBest (Search for that hashtag on Google+).
Honestly, its user base is the best, and a lot of what it has to offer is the best, but it really could rival and beat Facebook for all types of users, not just power users. If it was my first day on Google+, and I wasn’t such a geek, I would GTFO ASAP, because it takes so much work just to get it to work.
Ask Yourself That Same Question:
If this was your first day, as a new user, on Google+, and you weren’t already a Google fanboi, would you come back the next day?
If the answer is anything short of “HELL YES!,” then the network has failed.
Google+ Should “Just Work” on Day One: Automatically, Intuitively, and Quickly
I have suggestions of how they can accomplish it on the post I referred to earlier, with a combination of changing / adding different algorithms for streams, setting up an “interests” tab on a user’s profile (one column for “what I want to see” and one column for “what I post about”).
A user sets this up day one, and Google+ is suddenly immersing the user in a full user-friendly experience unlike anything else out there. Plus ones would be used to further refine this interest graph, but the primary cause would be the “interests” tab set up by a new user on day 1.
If you need an example of what I’m talking about, refer to StumbleUpon as an example. When a user sets up their initial profile, they select from a huge list of generic interest topics (it’s about 200 topics). Google could use this data to instantly give users with the types of content they want to see. Setting up a second column for “Things I post about” would allow Google to know about that user’s posts, helping deliver it to the right people (since somebody might love reading about science, but only post funny pictures).
Give the user the opportunity to set that up DAY 1, and Google+ automatically is serving up relevant content to the user (before they even circle one person). Then, as time goes on, they see certain users they like, or interact with them in comments, and add them to the circle.
- Delivering relevant content is Priority 1.
- Meeting other users is Priority 2 (caused by Priority 1).
Flip it Over
Right now, you have to meet people first, and hope that what they post about is what you want to read about, you have to go back and adjust your circles when you put someone in a circle with too high of a volume or they don’t end up posting anything you like.
I’m sorry, but that’s not the future of communication, it’s actually kinda BS if you think about it. Google+ should work for the user, not the other way around.
Currently the User is Doing ALL The Work
That’s why it will never beat Facebook in its current condition. It needs a prime differentiating factor, and that differentiating factor needs to take precedence over everything else. Facebook provides content from people you’re connected with. Google+ should allow you to connect with people you share interests with.
Some people say, “well Google+ doesn’t have to be as big as Facebook to be successful,” and to those people I say “bullshit.” Meeting new people based on shared interests is the future of communication,and it is a stronger working model than what Facebook is built on.
If Google capitalizes and realizes this, it actually will “take over” and still have all the benefits that power-users love today. If it’s absolutely needed, further personal customization could be an OPTIONAL feature that power users can take advantage of, but which is not NEEDED in order for the site to be enjoyable.
Google+ will never beat Facebook, until it becomes a DAY ONE FULL USER EXPERIENCE. Until that point, users will sign up, fiddle around for a bit, and then chunk a deuce, because there’s now too much work for a user to do to make the site even enjoyable. It needs to be improved to the extent that the site is enjoyable for a brand new user on day one, and in a different way than what’s already available to them on Facebook.
Heavily Weighting Interests is the Key to Google’s Future Growth and Success
It’s what gives it the potential to be the best, hands down. I know I’m being harsh, but it’s only because, while I love Google+, I see it as a failure in living up to its potential (I don’t use Facebook or Twitter).
Google+ should be THE BEST, and anything short of that is unacceptable in my opinion. Google is the greatest company in the world, with the smartest people working on their products. Anything other than the best is not acceptable. Anything that is just us “Google Plus Been Here Forever Nerds” enjoying the site is unacceptable.
They learned this lesson with Android vs Apple… the product has to just automatically work for anybody day one. They were still able to support the ability to customize it, but they changed it up enough to be more intuitive and user-friendly.
This is what I’m saying they need to do with Google+, so don’t worry power-users. I’m not trying to take anything away, I’m trying to improve upon what it has, recognize what it lacks, and make improvements that keep the great stuff and get rid of the not so great stuff.
Make Google+ fully working on day one to the point that you could randomly take a stranger off the street, sit them down in front of a computer, and within a couple of hours they already love Google+.
That is the standard I am calling for / demanding. I know I was a bit harsh, but keep in mind that I am probably as big as a Google+ fan there is. When I write this post, I’m not bashing Google+ or bitching about its flaws, I’m mentally acting as the CEO, calling a meeting of the people who work so hard on this site:
Keep up the good work, but get better. It’s time to step up our game. It’s time to stop settling for being a niche network. It’s time to DESTROY FACEBOOK!
“Living Well is a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible.”
– Larry Page
I’m sorry, but I don’t see that motto being applied to Google+. I love you like a brother, Larry. We are soul mates, separated at birth, whom both see the world in the same way. At the same time, I love Google+ enough to call you out on its shortcomings. It’s what I would want you to do to me, if we were in reverse roles.
Facebook sucks, and Google+ is squandering its potential to be the number one social network in the world, forever changing the way society interacts. Go big or Go home.
Keep Customization, but Hide it
Make it optional. Keep it in the backstage, where power users can still get to it. We won’t get any more power users, if user-controlled customization is necessary to make the site work.
On the surface, it runs automatically using secret sauce. Off to the side, there are options for users who want to do super geeky customizations.
The same thing that had to happen with Android. Google learned that it needed a more intuitive experience, and they made significant changes that would appeal to consumers in the same way that iOS did to Apple users. They still kept the customizable, geeky stuff available, but it was no longer required or predominantly featured.
How Google+ Should Be Like
When you open it up, it just works. When you spend more time on the site, you find ways you can make tweaks to it. So, the geeks and tweakers stay happy, but the average joe can enjoy the site just as much. Right now, it’s a geeks only site. Some people like that aspect, but from a business standpoint, that is a failure.
Time or Minor Updates to the Site Will Not Solve This Problem
Google+ needs to first define it’s purpose:
- Delivering awesome content and allowing you to meet cool people from around the world while interacting on that content.
- Second, it needs to build the site to maximize on its differentiation.
- Third, it needs to market the shit out of what’s so cool about Google Plus and why it’s so different.
Circles was their original plan for differentiation, but not only did Facebook immediately join these same abilities into its site, I don’t think it’s that great of a system.
Yes, keep circles. There are reasons for them, but don’t make THAT the primary focus. Don’t make circles required for the site to work. Circles comes after you meet the cool people. You meet the cool people as you discover the amazing content, not by searching through hundreds of profiles or blindly adding shared circles.