I recently read that Google+, while perceived by many to be a failing enterprise, has actually passed the half a billion user mark.
I’m going to dive into why and how I think they got this right.
- 1. Google Hangouts. No one can dispute that Google is a great company from a technology perspective. And I think at first the value of this tool wasn’t so apparent, and I will dive in further to other tools like Google Hangout in a post I’m putting together (such as Join.me & others). I believe the ease in which you can start a group conversion - public or private, even ad hoc with screen sharing & even recording - has actually been a real game changer for Google+ & adoption catalyst for many users. It has drawn many people in, and has given Google+ a real fresh value vs. its competitors.
- 2. Mobile Apps. Google did a phenomenal job of launching both the site & mobile apps simultaneously, which links back to my previous post of mobile apps to support desktop apps. But they didn’t stop there. They worked hard behind the scenes to constantly improve those apps, and I can honestly say that from a UX perspective, my Google+ apps are probably my favorite apps (Android & iPad) today. They’re beautiful & fully featured, and with the caliber of users, I often find myself catching up on news & such via Google+ even over Flipboard (which provides a similar UX to me).
- 3. Communities, Pages & More. Combining features from other successful social networks, and while this doesn’t demonstrate much originality, it does demonstrate Google’s desire to really provide its users with the maximum. Taking the communities idea from Linkedin, and pages from Facebook, Google+ now enables companies to really leverage Google+ as a viable alternative to other tools.
- 4. Controlled Sharing. With many social sites these days, there is a real concern about loss of control, and privacy. I think from early on Google+ did a really good job of addressing this issue, especially when it comes to photos, and other sensitive material that it is often times quite difficult to understand how to limit visibility on with other sites. The circles and the quick settings, enable people to feel confident that their posts are being viewed by the people they’d like to have see them.
- 5. Seamless Integration & Instant Upload. Google+ definitely learned its lesson from the whole Google Buzz debacle. They learned that if people want to use your tool, they will, and you don’t have to shove it down their throat. While leveraging their massive Gmail user base, they unintrusively provide a quick link in the corner, next to the rest of the quick links, for those interested in quick access. Those who aren’t interested, can opt out. Another perk is the instant upload that comes built-in with the mobile app. Not sure if this is just for Android or all mobile devices, but this is probably one of my favorite features. In contrast to DropBox, that provides a similar option, but doesn’t provide you with more space to take advantage of this perk, Google+ doesn’t limit your upload (or hasn’t yet for me at least - so I’m guessing the capacity is pretty large).
I’m happy to see that Google have learned lessons from past mistakes, and are taking the user experience to heart. I think this tool definitely is a plus in their direction following previous flops such as Google Wave and Google Buzz (whose technology they definitely leveraged to make this tool a real success).