Oliver Reichenstein on Google+

Oliver Reichenstein:

Google+ makes Facebook look like MySpace.

So far, I like Google+. The Facebook comparison is apt; we switched from MySpace to Facebook because Facebook was cleaner and easier to figure out. Now that Facebook is trying harder and harder to monetize its user data, the site is becoming more and more confusing.

To me, it feels as if Facebook is constantly trying to trick me into doing things that are good for Facebook’s bottom line, but bad for me.

In comparison, Google+ is clean and (mostly) easy to understand.1 There are very few basic concepts you have to figure out in order to get how Google+ works: Google+ achieves depth not by offering tons of features, but by offering the right kinds of features. Features that, once understood, can be used in many different, interesting ways,2 and that allow people to do worthwhile, valuable things.

Perhaps most importantly, Google+ handles privacy in a prominent and intuitive way. The privacy settings and their implications are explained using clear, simple language.

  1. One exception: some of the finer points of how circles work aren’t immediately obvious. ↩︎

  2. Think of it like this: jumping in a Mario game is very simple. You hit a button, Mario jumps. But once you know how to jump, you can use this ability to jump over gaps, jump on top of bricks, kill enemies, destroy bricks, hit coins out of coin bricks, get mushrooms, jump on top of flagpoles to get points, and much more. Learning one simple thing unlocks a very deep array of options. These are the kinds of features you want in your application. ↩︎

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Want to read more like this? Buy my book's second edition! Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web is now available DRM-free directly from The Pragmatic Programmers. Or you can get it on Amazon, where it's also available in Chinese and Japanese.