Google Plus…Beta in Progress

Last night I was driving my daughter and her guy friend home from an after school program, and I really like this kid, he’s a little tech geek like me.  I spoke to this computer savvy twelve year old kid, and was asking him all these questions from a kid’s perspective about all these new technologies.  He was articulating and rattling off thought provoking and meaningful information.  It was like I was talking to an industry analyst, bright fun, good kid.  He and I talked non-stop, and after we dropped him off, and I realized we monopolized the conversation, and my daughter might have wanted to get in a word, so I apologized.  Forgot what it was like to be teen, a girl no less.

Anyway, in the mist of our discussion the kid said he uses a gmail account instead of his default ISP.  I asked him about what he thought of Google Plus.  He said he did some exploring of it. “Yeah, Google + was created to compete with Facebook, but it’s not really that great.”   I asked him if he knew about a few features I thought were cool, and his response was “No, not really, Instagram,” he said “was ‘killin it’ though.” We went onto more market analysis of the space.  I was amazed.  Kids.

It was then I realized why the kid didn’t get past the first page.  Appeal and usability.  These are concepts in User Interface design and are essential in attracting users. These types of features are usually added later on.  The standard technology mantra, is “Make it work, then make it work [faster, refine UI, etc].  If I was trying to really be unbiased, Google Plus is tantamount to a Beta product.  As an example, the “Your Circle” buttons truncate the Circle name, are square shaped, and don’t have an appeal.  In fact, many of the user interface features feel canned.  The user interface is not the focus initially when putting out a product, especially when you are in a rapid mode of delivering, and are certain your product may change drastically, i.e. based on your road map, user feedback, and so on.  Although I really like the baseline platform, and am trying not to be, I am a bit biased in favor of Google.  Google Plus looks like they are using the Agile methodology with Scrum Sprints and constant releases. To be clear, I am using their own, Google’s latest browser Chrome, on Windows 7 with a powerful computer.

So, what does this teach us?  Well, in Project Management, sometimes you can add all the resources in the world to a project, but at some point you get diminishing returns, and there is a limit to delivery capability even using Agile and Scrum methodologies, especially if Social Networking is high on Google’s agenda.  Agile requires user feedback, hence the release, and user response cyclical feedback loop.

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