I just took a look at Google Plus for the first time in, well, I honestly don’t know when I used it last.

It seems to have had a facelift and I must say – ugh.

I do not like Facebook. I stubbornly resisted joining for a long time before eventually doing so after other social networks died. When G+ came along I hoped that it would take off, even if I didn’t think that’d be the case. I hear that G+ is doing fairly well in certain demographics so this post isn't supposed to be a long lament of how it has died, it’s more a second first impression.

The new interface confused me. A lot.

I could see I’d been tagged in a few photos by some random Redditor and went to untag myself. No such luck though as the option for removing it was just missing. Fantastic. Perhaps it exists, perhaps not. After a quick search I found that because multiple people were tagged in the photo the setting wasn’t immediately obvious. Sorted.

The design expands to fill my monitor which makes using the interface like watching a tennis match. Fun! On one side of the screen there’s a chat listing, much like in Gmail, of course here it’s on the opposite side. That makes sense, it’s not like I’ve had literally years to get used to it on the other side.

Photo 20-01-2013 19 58 25(Blurring intentional)

On the left side there’s a load of tabs that seem to do various things. The thing I notice first is the “Explore” tab which sits between “Profile” and “Events”. From what I can tell it shows content from people I don’t know but some sort of algorithm thinks I should care about. Pass! I’m not interested in random bloggers, thank you. It also smacks of desperation to me – assuming correctly that I have few friends that use G+ and as such need some content to keep me interested.

Communities looks interesting but upon closer inspection it looks overly complex and painful. I enjoy community tools but these just look like a mess. It reminds me of using dial-up and feeling like I wasn’t getting access to some sort of nebulous “real” internet. Here that manifests as multiple frames (not iframes, thank gods) surrounding the content.

Also it’s really distracting how badly my screen real estate is being managed – see that big blank bit? That’s what all of G+ looks like to me.

Where was I? Oh yes, the next tab. “Local”. Qype-style reviews of local business. Why do I care enough to have that as a tab? If I wanted reviews I’d look them up as needed.

“Games” – again, not interested. These kinds of casual games seem to appeal to people. I am not one of them sadly.

“Hangouts” I think I tried that a while back. I recall having to install some extra software for it to work but perhaps that’s no longer the case. Either way it’s an interesting enough concept so I can’t fault them for that.

“More” – let’s see, it just shows “Pages”. Why is there even a “More” tab if it only goes to “Pages”? Oh, wait, I see, I can drag things into or out of there to hide them. Right, one moment. That’s the tabs tidied up a bit but I’m still left with this hideous layout.

This blog post rambles really, doesn’t it? No real coherency or point?

That’s basically the best way I can sum up using Google Plus for now. It looks like there’s actually some excellent content in there but it’s just such a mess. The old cliché of usability being lacking due to having been designed by engineers really springs to mind. Facebook is aggravating in many ways but this really takes the biscuit.

How is it with all the data and resources Google have they seem unable to get user interfaces right?

I cannot see myself using G+ in its current state even if my friends were on it simply because it feels like a chore to use. It’s actually a shame though as I have no doubt that the various components that form the whole are in all likelihood very well built. Engineers may suck at interfaces but they know what they’re doing in other areas. That’s just not enough though.

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