Disclaimer: I worked on Google+ for two years, as technical lead for the +1 Button and several other key products within Google+.
Google+ looks amazing. If you haven’t played with it recently, try it out. The UI is fluid, animates like a Nintendo game and the content is extremely legible.
But it’s too damn complex.
Visual design alone won’t directly move the needle for Google+. It will push Facebook (and others) to up their game in the design department.
Here are some of the “core” features of Google+. It has a content stream, a what’s hot stream, curated circles, rich profiles, photos, communities, events, hangouts, notifications, chat, non-people pages, local businesses, games (soon to be discontinued), instant upload, and so on.
In my opinion, the product needs two things before it should consider how to find its place in an already crowded social market:
- Remove features. There’s just too much to do in Google+. It’s quickly becoming the Six Flags of social networks. Something normal people do maybe once or twice a year.
- Create constraints. Good designers have wised up to the fact that less is more and simplicity is king. Constraints enable creativity. What is the “haiku” of Google+?
Google+ is an amazing technical achievement on almost all fronts. And there are quite a few gems hidden within Google+ itself, but with everything else going on, those gems are simply lost in the rough.