Why Google+ is a -1 for me

It’s always fun to see when a new social channel is released. There is plenty of excitement and wonderment as people try to figure out what a new tool is, where it fits and how it’s better/worse than existing tools. If there’s one thing Google is exceptional at, it’s creating a buzz around a new release. Google+ isn’t the first, as a matter of fact, it’s the 3rd (perhaps 4th) attempt at doing ‘social’. And while I think this is by far the most interesting attempt to date, I’ve now walked away. But, the reason I walked away is not because the tool isn’t interesting, it’s something much more fundamental. It’s about authentication and the really horrible user experience around it.

Google Apps

One of the big draws to Google for me initially was being able to host my domain and use Google Apps for my family. Yes, I am sort of a geek, but it was so easy, and enabled my family to have whatever e-mail addresses they wanted, share calendars and documents. I used the standard edition, so was able to fit my family use case very well. As Google started rolling out more services, I felt like a second class citizen, I still had to keep a separate Google account to access services like, Google Reader, Picasa, Google Voice, etc.

New Job, New Google Apps account

In February this year, I joined Yammer. Yammer uses Google Apps for its employees. This made a ton of sense, but now I have yet another Google account. This was a business account and was also tied to a single sign-on solution further complicating things.

Summer of 2011

In June 2011, I received an e-mail from Google saying they were migrating my domain to a new infrastructure that would allow me to access many of the Google Services with a single account. I was told if I do nothing, my domain would be automatically migrated on July 11, 2011. This date seemed to be cast in stone and my only course was to do the migration manually before the date. Despite the very painful migration process for my family, I saw a benefit to the process. I would finally be able to have a single personal account to access all the Google services.

Bad timing/bad planning

At almost exactly the same time, Google released Google+ and I was fortunate to get an early invite, only issue was my newly consolidated Google Apps was not compatible with Google+, so I had to re-enable my regular Google account.

On the surface, this didn’t seem too bad until I realized the complexity of it all. In order to access all of my services, I had to go into each account and configure the setting to allow multiple logins and then login to my accounts in a specific order:

1. regular Google Account
2. Personal Google Apps
3. Business Google Apps

This also created many problems for me with existing services I’ve come to rely on.

Google Reader – Subscribe button sent feeds to the wrong account. If I logged in in the wrong order, I would get the wrong Reader account and was unable to switch

Picasa – Unable to switch accounts to access pictures associated with my Google Apps account (All of them)

Even the +1 button became a challenge.

With all things considered, I decided to abandon my Google+ account until this authentication issue is resolved in a way that makes for a good user experience. I need things that make my life simpler, not more complex.  Until that time, continue to catch me on Twitter.

Greg Lowe

Greg constructively challenges the status quo to achieve real change in organizations. With a background in IT, communications and collaboration, Greg is passionate about making technology usable to make people’s jobs easier and changing the way companies do business. He does this by demonstrating value through building business cases and leading organizations to develop and support new behaviors, by working with leadership to help them understand how and why to leverage social business systems within their enterprise to achieve better business outcomes. He also writes and speaks about strategies and tactics that can be employed by companies to drive success in the Social Business space.

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3 Replies to “Why Google+ is a -1 for me”

  1. Hi Greg – Thanks for the great blog. I enjoy your posts, and this one regarding Google+ hit a chord with me.

    As a Yammer champion I’m keenly interested in platforms that seek to create the social layer across enterprise apps. Google+ is a great attempt at this, albeit on a platform that may/may not be adopted by companies given Microsoft’s position in the marketplace. For my personal life, I do like having the layer accessible for the Google Apps I use: Gmail, Calendar, Voice, Chat, Reader, and to some degree, Documents.

    That being said, where I struggle is with the UX. Google has always thrived with light, bare-bones UIs, and while I think that’s great, I’m not sure it translates into a seamless, intuitive, fun, and simple UX for potential social media adoptees. I really want someone to take Apple’s tack and make social media user-manual free. Not that I ever use a user’s manual; I’m agile in most software packages, but for mass deployment the KISS principle just makes sense to me.

    The thing that draws me to Yammer is that it is simple. For one, it leverages a similar UI to FB, which shortens uptime for users to a new application; second, for posting, it’s literally as easy as typing a message in the box and hitting update. I’ve found other features in packages like Jive and Newsgator that I like, but the simplicity, coupled with a model that advocates the social layer through embedding the feed to be precisely what is required in enterprise 2.0 installations is very attractive. The freeware model allows organizations to experiment with the platform before they make a decision to purchase Premium.

    Best,

    Tom Hendrich (I’m on the YCN)

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