Is Google Plus's Problem One of Design?

So what’s the Google Plus problem? There’s really only one thing left: bad design and a confusing user interface.

Google is an engineer-driven company. These unbelievably talented engineers have always put code before pixels. They’ve made the fastest, smartest Web products around. But the design of Google Plus feels, well, undesigned. It isn’t beautiful, and in the age of the iPhone and mobile apps, good design is more important than anything.

We skitter around the world with our smartphone cameras, taking pictures of leaves and sugar cubes and sunsets, then applying filters and making even the mundane look beautiful. Clearly, design is becoming increasingly more relevant to people.

Google Plus doesn’t seem to understand that. Google’s iPhone app, for example, looks like a sketch that was never finished. And if you think the iPhone isn’t important for a good social network, just ask Instagram, an iPhone-only photo app that  has more than 27 million users. That’s a quarter of Google Plus’s users, and Instagram didn’t need the Google homepage to get there.

Google doesn’t even need to rethink social networks, for now. It can simply copy someone else. Most social networks do this, to some degree. Instagram wasn’t the first photo app with filters. Path is a slimmed-down mobile version of Facebook. Highlight feels like a newer take on Foursquare. But they are all innovative in their presentation.

Online, especially in social, innovation isn’t about being new; almost every social app can be traced to someone who did an earlier variation on the experience.

Instead, innovation is about presenting the problem with a different solution. Design, user experience and aesthetics are the key to doing that right, even if you do have great engineers.

Sent from iPhone 

Posted via email from Pete's posterous

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