Google has been striving to integrate its online services into one central platform based around their social network, Google+. To date it has been met with mixed reviews but has never really taken off since its launch in the summer of 2011. In mid April, Google launched a redesign of Google+ with the goal of making the network a little more user friendly.
When you first log into the updated Google+ the amount of white space will jump out at you. It’s a startling contrast to the other social networks. After you adjust to it, you’ll notice four main aspects of the new look:
- To the left. On the left is a bar, or ribbon as Google calls it, with icons for the main features. This ribbon is reminiscent of the Windows Task Bar and works much the same way. Simply click on an icon to open the related function. If you have an icon you don’t use, simply click and drag it out of the bar and it will be moved to More.
- In the center. In the center of the page you’ll see all your updates along with a bar above them with your top two circles. To the right of your updates you’ll see what’s trending on Google+, the Invite friends to Google+ button and a suggestions box.
- To the right. On the far right is a very prominent chat bar with all your chat contacts. Above that is the Start a hangout button which allows you to quickly begin a hangout session.
- Up top. At the top of the page you’ll see the search bar, from which you can search Google+ for posts, topics, friends, etc.
New features There are three new useful features:
- Explore. On the left ribbon is a compass icon. Clicking this will open Explore, a page that displays what’s currently trending on Google+. The content shown on this page is viewable by all users, and this gives businesses a great marketing opportunity if they can capitalize on current trends.
- Block. On your social network profiles there may be a user who is leaving rude comments or spam messages on your posts. On Google+ you can block the user from posting. Simply go to their profile and select block under their profile picture.
- New hangout page. If you click on the hangouts icon on the left hand ribbon, you’ll be taken to the hangouts page. On the page you’ll see current hangouts that you can join or you can start a new one based on any post. To start a public hangout click the camera icon at the bottom of the post.