Google Plus and social media design

google_plus_2I think Google Plus is the strongest social network out there, in terms of usability.

There, I said it. Not a lot of people would expect to hear that, but I think it’s deserved.

We all know that Google Plus interaction data isn’t all that hot when compared to Facebook and Twitter, but the user experience gets better and better every week. No other major social network has live video conferencing, inbuilt SEO or many of the other functions available in Google Plus.

Let’s look at a few ways Google Plus trumps Twitter and Facebook.

Increasingly intuitive usability and design

Google is improving their Google Plus usability and design much quicker than Twitter and Facebook. It’s no secret Google does not have a reputation for design. But whilst leading edge interfaces are not Google’s strong point, superb engineering  and data-driven design is. As a cleaner, more consistent display of imagery and typography emerges over the range of Google products, Google Plus may just capture a refined, tasteful, user-friendly alternative to the single column design used by the other social networks.

Inbuilt SEO

Google Plus places particular emphasis on search engine optimisation (SEO), allowing profile pages to PageRank just like regular websites. Sharing photos and content on Google Plus and encouraging others to +1 your content works the same way as Facebook “Likes”. The impact is even more pronounced because Google Search favours sites that have received more social credibility.

And ironically, both Facebook and Twitter prevent Google from accessing much of their data, which limits their SEO effectiveness.

Integration with other Google Products
Google Plus was built to be integrated with every one of its other products; Gmail, Chrome browser, Picasa, Gmail, YouTube to mention a few. Google sees Google Plus as the connective tissue that ties all Google’s products together.

I’m certainly not saying it’s going to change the market tomorrow. Google Plus was late to the social scene, and they’ve got some work to do to catch up. But as Facebook and Twitter shout about user numbers and share price, keep an eye on this quiet contender. Facebook numbers have dropped off for the first time ever, and Twitter updates are becoming more and more spammy.

Google has a real opportunity here. I’m interested to see where this goes.

Edit – Google also announced some fantastic new features just after I published this post. More here.