Yesterday, Google+ got a huge makeover, but the look is very familiar. There's no doubt that the redesign looks good (with the possible exception of the white space already being mocked), but web users question the value of the redesign. Google's main problem with their social network is the lack of unique value. If anything, the redesign amplifies this. Let's take a look at some new features.
- Customizable Navigation Ribbon. This feature seems original enough. Rather than the top navigation bar, there's now a "ribbon" along the left edge of the screen that's completely customizable. You can show/hide apps and rearrange them, and hovering over an app's icon will reveal quick actions you can do from any page.
- Profile Page. The new profile page looks eerily similar to Facebook Timeline. There's even a cover photo.
- Bigger Photos and Video. Once again, a change Facebook already went through.
- More Prominent Chat. Yet again, a feature that now looks more like Facebook chat.
- Explore. There's now an 'Explore' page that displays "interesting" and trending content from the site. Users can adjust how much of this content will go directly to their stream on the homepage. This isn't reminiscent of a Facebook feature but rather the "Discover" tab that Twitter introduced.
- Dedicated 'Hangouts' Page. There's now a separate page for Hangout information, including a list of all of your invitations to Hangouts as well as a list of public and on-air Hangouts you can join.
While the design was well-received and many still consider it more 'beautiful' than Facebook, it still lacks originality. As you can see, there are very few original aspects of the redesign. As Fast Company brilliantly commented: "A lot of what Google announced today was pure catch-up."
Google+ is trying to make something that already exists. There's the argument that they're doing it better: with circles, integration into other Google products, etc. Its one feature that's successfully unique is Hangouts, so it's good to see that they're trying to put more focus on that by giving Hangouts its own page. But at this point, trying to replace Facebook and Twitter won't work. It's too late.
Look at Pinterest: it's succeeding and became the huge social network it is now because of its uniqueness. Sure, Google+ may look better than Facebook, but it's still very similar. Google should be thinking of ways to make Google+ stand out, rather than trying to be everything.
So, readers, we'd like your opinion. Will this new design increase how often you use Google+, if you use it at all? Please share!