Yesterday, 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.
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.