4 Reasons Why We Don’t Like the New Google Plus Layout

Posted by on March 7th, 2013

google-clunkyYesterday, Google+ surprised everyone with a new profile layout. While scrambling to put together a new Photoshop template for everyone, we didn’t take the time to decide if we like it or not. Now that a little time has passed, we’ve made up our minds. It’s terrible.

Since opinions usually need a little backing, here are the four main reasons why we just don’t like the new layout:

1) The Profile Pictures are Circles

We get it. Google+ is all about the circles. Add someone to this circle, get updates from the other one. While circles are great for sharing information, and might even be okay for pictures, they just don’t work for  logos. 90% of the logos we see every day are square or horizontal. You can fit a circle in a square, but you can’t fit a square inside a circle. There isn’t enough room.

So, anyone with a square logo is going to get their corners cut off. It makes the image look worse, but you can still recognize the company. But what about the people with text logos? Half of the words get cut off completely, leaving an abbreviated version of the company name. Granted, uploading a new image that has your logo positioned specifically for the circle resolves the cropping issue, but does leave you with a much smaller logo being displayed in your “circle”.

Long story short: circles and logos just don’t mix.

2) The Cover Photo is Too Big

The new profile cover photos are responsive. The bigger your screen is, the bigger the image gets. If the image were small initially, this would make sense; but their new cover photo monstrosities swallow the entire screen. On some of our monitors, that image was 16 inches across. No profile picture should be over a foot long. We usually love responsive design, but not this time.

3) It’s Hard to Design For (the Cover Photo is Too Big – AGAIN!)

Between the circles and the massive cover photos, we have’t been able to figure out what to do with the space. The logo ends up tiny, and no amount of creativity can effectively fill the ever-growing cover image. We thought the intent was to share information with our circles, and gain information back in return Instead, w’re forced to slap an over-sized advertisement in their faces; that really seems to discourage the user from getting to the content. I’m not saying we didn’t see some great creativity yesterday as new cover images emerged, but the space is simply too large for the purpose. In this case, form is not following function.

If you already had a great cover image, you can forget about putting it back; the new minimum 480 X 270 image requirements mean that your sleek little cover photo is never returning to its old location. You’d better hope you saved the Photoshop file, or you’ll have to recreate your design all over again.

4) The Pages are Less Usable

The second you go to someone’s page, the only thing you will see is an image. If you scroll down past that, you see their posts. What about all of the information that used to be on the front of the page? Where did the office hours and company bio go?

They’ve all moved to the “about” tab. It’s nice that they’re all in one place, but we really preferred having the information front and center.

In Summary

Google+ went from its trademark sleek and minimalistic design to something big, clunky, and in-your-face. Whether this was an attempt to draw in users from other social media sites, or just a failed idea by their design team, we will never know. The one thing we can be sure of: adding circles everywhere might work for Google’s brand identity, but it’s messing with everyone else’s.

What are your thoughts? Do you love the new layout, or do you just hate it? Let us know in the comments below.

About 

Kandra is influenced in her design by everything from Hubble Space Telescope imagery to the strawberry plants in her garden. Her concepts are known for their characteristic combination of warmth, simplicity and functionality, and for their strong resonance with her clients’ brand and corporate identities.

Questions or Comments? Leave a reply, we would love to hear from you.

12 Comments on “4 Reasons Why We Don’t Like the New Google Plus Layout

    Kandra, why no comments here yet? I think you nailed it! I’ll add 4 MORE reasons why we don’t like the new Google Plus Cover Photo Size: (1) Too Big; (2) Way too Big; (3) Overpoweringly too Big; (4) Off-the-charts, hard-to-explain, Titanic-ly too Big. I’m trying to get people to vote on the cover picture size at my blog, here: https://ronvanpeursem.com/2013/03/vote-on-the-google-plus-cover-photo-size/

    rick wintomac says:

    Google+ photos replaces picasa. Picasa was usable. Google + photos is intrusive with pestering popup dialogs to do this and do that / harder to share via e-mail, which apparently doesn’t tie into Google(gmail) contacts like picasa did. So much for integration.

    Another step back. Google proves it is a search only. Most else is second rate.

    I could not agree more my page looks ugly and profile picture looks too huge and unclear now I am going to have seek out another picture. On my widescreen its far wider than the profile itself, what are they thinking?

    Anon says:

    The cover photo is ridiculously big. It serves no purpose other than being TOO BIG and obstructing browsing. The purpose of a profile is the content not its cover photo. The changes are becoming overwhelming and with them being forced, it’s difficult to keep up with. I closed down my profile. Though I dislike Facebook, I am back using it. Google+ was just becoming a clone of Facebook anyway.

    Sussan says:

    The new Google Plus layout and design is a nightmare! I have no idea how to navigate it and everything is just so big it hurts my eyes. I’m really hoping Google admits they made a mistake and give us back the sleek old layout that we all had and only just realised we loved.

    I totally agree with every one of your observations. Another thing that I really dislike about Google+ is how it categorizes and sorts my photos… not just the ones I upload, but also photos that it pulled off my posts, my blogs and God only knows where else. This results in a giant cluster**** and makes many duplicates of photos. I’m so confused right now just trying to sort my photos better that I have to vent, then go back to my facebook where at least it makes sense.

    Jessica says:

    Horrible! I agree with all the comments above. A cluster**** and now I get to spend lord knows how long untangling and figuring it all out. Overwhelming and forced changes. This maybe the last straw. Google will be my search engine and nothing else…and we’ll see how long that lasts depending on how their new algorithms work.

    Benjamin says:

    I’ve always been a fan of Google+, and I loved the redesign in May (Was it May?) So I do not agree with most of your points.

    But now… It’s just too big. What am I? Blind? It’s like a Facebook for old people. While they create so much more space for the “Home stream” in comparison to the (old, still haven’t got the new) Facebook lay-out, they simply can’t seem to bring structure and use the lay-out efficiently.

    Stew B says:

    Agree entirely. After being asked to upload a ‘rectangle’ picture… low and behold I’m ‘forced to have a generic circle issue from Google…. Doh! Now I’ve got to do it again – it feels like I’m a square peg in a round hole, and looks like it; – hardly letting creativity just be. ..Not good Googlers! Anybody know a workaRound’ s’cuse the pun.

    Lisa says:

    I hate the way I look in pictures. if I know someone is going to take one, my ‘posing smile’ looks horrible and forced. if I don’t know and someone just takes my picture, I necessarily will be doing something that requires heavy lifting and the accompanied grimace. So for my profile picture on Google +, I always download an image. Batman, a lion, etc. Google images are shown in pictures. Why did they ruin my thing by making it a circle? it seems like that should be an OPTION. I am actually a little ticked! Come on Google!

    Victim2Victor says:

    I HATE the new layout. I reverted back to the old one for as long as I could and now that option is gone. It’s painful trying to re learn how to use a site I have used for years.


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