This is reposted from my answer on Quora here.
Question: What UX considerations were built into Google+?
The most interesting design choice I’ve seen for G+ has been deploying it across all the Google properties within a navbar, and via the notifications – I’m talking about this thing right here:
Building G+ on top of pre-existing, high-retention products
Obviously this is a smart decision because it lets them build on top of their own high-retention, pre-existing products: Google Search and Gmail, in particular. Contrast this to an approach where they would have started up G+ as its own independent property, which Google users could choose to adopt or not- but then that looks like Orkut.
Anyway, as a result of adding this new global navbar across all the Google properties, they have to deal with a very small amount of real estate to create some pretty rich interactions. Thus, it was very interesting to then see them building a mobile-like interface for interacting with comments, follows, etc., inline, without leaving whatever experience you’re already in:
And if you click on any of these, you see a quick sliding motion that lets you interact with the different notifications inline, without going anywhere:
Contrasting with Facebook
In comparison, the Facebook notifications dropdown is almost more like a inbox of “pointers” to the actual content. As a result, while you can see what’s new, you can’t actually do anything about it without leaving where you are. I found this a nice interaction on G+’s part given that they are building on top of things like email or search where you may not want to leave yet.
Someone should obviously do a much longer design discussion of the G+ main site, but I personally found the new navbar and notifications system pretty interesting so I thought I’d write a bit about it.
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