Google announced a ton of new design upgrades for Google+ today. Among them: improved navigation, redesigned stream and dedicated hangouts page, essentially making Google+ look like a drastically different product.
Sarah Perez did a nice job summarizing the design changes, which appear to be a pretty impressive list.
But I’m concerned.
In highlighting the new features, Google also mentions that Google+ now has over 170 million users. However, it’s still counting those who share via Search, Gmail, YouTube and other places across Google’s network – so, again, it’s not a real count of how many users are visiting Google+ as a destination of its own.
The design upgrade is nice, but just how many users will actually see it? Google seems to skirt around the question about Google+ active users, even Google+ unique users (i.e. users who create a Google account for the sole purpose of signing up for the social network).
I’m skeptical of the impact the updated design and functionality will have, given that a significant portion of Google+’s 170 million users probably won’t even click over to Google+ to share on the social network. Good design can re-engage users to start sharing more, but if the active users aren’t there, the ceiling (and subsequent overall impact) only gets so high.