Google recently opened up a field trial of it’s Google+ Facebook/Twitter competitor. So far, reaction to G+ has been largely positive among the early adopter crowd.
Google+ has even earned a stamp of approval from the Chinese government which blocked Google+ within days of its launch…a milestone that Facebook took years to reach.
Despite generally positive reactions from both early adopters and the Chinese government, there have been user interface complaints. The G+ user interface issue that drives me crazy is the presentation of stream data, specifically threaded conversations. They take up a lot of space and make the conversation difficult to follow. It gives G+ users the feeling of being overwhelmed, inability to keep up with activity and general chaos. G+’s display of threaded conversations is one instance where Google would do well to copy its Chinese competitor, because the Made in China idea is better than what Silicon Valley has delivered.
Take a look at this screenshot of my G+ stream:
This single G+ conversation, takes up the entire vertical height of the browser on my 13in Macbook Pro. This make it impossible to skim for interesting content in the stream because you can only see one conversation at a time.
Now I know Googlers all have huge super high resolution monitors or implants that display directly to their retinas, but many of us are not so lucky. If they’d like those of us with normal sized screens and human eyes to keep using G+, they need to find a better way to handle threaded conversations. They need only look east to China to learn how to do threaded conversations right.
Take a look at a worst case example of threaded conversations on China’s Twitter clone Sina Weibo.
In Weibo, you can clearly see what the person you follow says about the thread parent. You can also see a brief summary of the parent thread in a callout bubble beneath your friend’s “tweet”. As you can see in the “tweet” posted by HXYCO, the parent thread has been “shared” over 8600 times and almost 1000 comments have been left on the original post. You can also see a tiny thumbnail of the original picture.
Weibo understands what Google doesn’t. Unless I’m interested in a paying attention to a particular conversation, I don’t need to see a whole screen about it. And being interested in a conversation means being interested now at this immediate moment, not that I shared it or commented on it at some point in the past. We all move on in life and that includes our interactions with social network posts.
Google, if you’re reading, I know Chinese internet companies don’t get a lot of respect in Silicon Valley, but Weibo has some lessons you’d do well to learn and apply to G+.