Google+ Gets a Redesign: Heavy Imagery and Prominent Grid Layouts Reign Supreme

By Wednesday June 5th, 2013

Previously, I wrote about how modern web design has become much more visual, with large imagery becoming the central focus. The emphasis on visuals and grid layouts is especially prevalent on social networks, like Facebook and Pinterest. Now another social media platform is joining the ranks: Google+.

Previously, I wrote about how modern web design has become much more visual, with large imagery becoming the central focus. This is especially prevalent on social networks, like Facebook and Pinterest. Even Twitter has cover photos now. Another social media platform is joining the ranks: Google+. Not to be left out of the loop, Google+ has redesigned its interface to be a much more visual experience. The layout is now a grid of 1, 2, or 3 columns, depending on what device you’re viewing it on, and images are displayed much larger. Google+ has also added a photo editing tool to reinforce the role of imagery on its platform.

The redesign of Google+ reinforces the point I made before about the transition to a more visual web. There’s been a clear shift in style, and there’s a new standard in web design. Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ are starting to look quite similar. This shift is for good reason though. The large areas of imagery create a higher level of interest, while the grid layout keeps everything neatly organized. Let’s delve into some of Google+’s new features.

Features of the Redesign
Google+ has joined the club and added cover photos on profile pages, which seems like a requirement for all social media networks now. It is nice to be able to add a level of personality and design to your profile. Posts on the new Google+ are now called “cards” and appear with a photo, caption/update, and sharing options. Posts are automatically tagged with related hashtags so users can “flip the card” and explore similar content. The cover photos are pretty large, and the images on the “cards” also appear at a decent size.

Google+ posts now appear as “cards” with large imagery and automatically added hashtags.

To further emphasize the importance of imagery on this network, Google+ added a photo feature called Auto Awesome with a lot of different capabilities. Auto Awesome will automatically combine similar, sequential photos into an animated GIF. If you upload a few group shots, Auto Awesome will pick everyone’s best smile and stitch them together into one quality shot. It also creates panoramas and photobooth-style film strips for similar photo series. The feature has other capabilities as well, like auto photo enhancements to color and contrast, auto backup, and a highlight feature that suggests which photos should be discarded.

Auto Enhance adjusts the brightness, saturation, and contrast of your photos for a nicer end result.

A More Modern Google+ for the Modern Web
An adaptive site is key to easy accessibility and keeping a modern web presence. In terms of responsive design, Google+ has hit the mark. The site snaps to the size of your browser, showing an appropriate number of columns for your screen. However, if you’re not a fan of the three-column grid layout, Google+ allows users to view one stream. The grid layout they’ve enlisted lends itself well to the various display sizes. On the mobile end, Google+ has even created larger tap targets for ease of use. It appears that the redesign was well thought out for every instance of its use, and has a sense of cohesion across all devices.

The grid layout automatically adjusts to 1, 2, or 3 columns, depending on how you’re viewing the site.

This image-heavy, strong grid style is definitely popular on social networks, but it’s also been showing up elsewhere. News sources and blogs, like Mashable, Fast Company, and The Next Web (in addition to others), follow the same trend. With so many on board, it’s clear that this style is going to be around for awhile. The use of big, bold imagery creates visual interest, and the emphasis on imagery over text makes it easier to scan the page. Google+ isn’t the first website to make the shift to a more visual approach, and judging by the increasing number of sites on board, it won’t be the last either.

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About the Author

Hannah is a designer at Brolik Productions. In addition to designing for the web, she has experience with branding, traditional print design, and package design. When she isn't scouring design blogs, Hannah likes exploring new places around Philadelphia and coming up with weird nicknames for her cat.