I was asked for feedback in a conversation about the new names policy for Google+ by Louis Gray, Product Marketing Manager for Google+. I had pointed out that this doesn’t solve any big issue I have with the service. This statement provided no value, and I felt that my response deserved to be more thorough and possibly actionable. My biggest issues revolve around responsiveness of the site and the social experience.
My experience with the site has been pretty crappy as far as responsiveness goes; I can’t put all of this on Google, as I do have a slower connection. I can like, er, +1 an item and it doesn’t take, I do it again, and then it takes and un-take simultaneously for example. Posting has horrendous lag particularly when trying to select circles, all 8 of them, in which to display. Notifications are so slow, they’re sometimes as far off as several hours at this point, which is the worst I’ve seen since launch and continues to degrade. If you’re browsing, occasionally comments don’t show up without a refresh of the page or opening a thread in another window. So as far as responsiveness of the site, I’d put them above Twitter, barely, but still way, WAY, behind Facebook or Friendfeed. They’ve made improvements, but even so it still seems to be degrading faster than they can keep it up, this without mention of the memory issues.
My personal social experience with the site has felt off. It is okay at a lot of things, but isn’t the best at any. Circles are in theory good, but in practice this doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m not going to share anything I want my close friends and family to see, because Facebook already does that and is more closed off; there is no need to try and pull all these people over and shove in a circle. It’s hard to find valuable content, without immense amounts of effort at some point in the loop. If I follow someone who occasionally shares something I find interesting, or shares a topic I want squared away to the side; the only recourse I have is to put them in a circle, otherwise I have to wade through the noise, and even circling them isn’t a perfect solution. Twitter is much better at handling noise, by having compressed context. I can parse a tweet a lot faster than the longer form content shared on Google+.
The service just feels like a waste of time, when there are alternatives that aren’t as much of a waste of time and more productive. The only exception I make is when I have specific need to share with a few specific people that do use Google+, and it would be quicker to contact them this way. I don’t have any good ideas on how to fix the social experience, but they can start with the responsiveness of the site.