So Google+ is slowly rolling out to the public. If you haven’t gotten access yet, you should very soon. One of my favorite aspects of Google+ is it gives its users the ability to share and publish various types of content without jeopardizing its fundamental design and feature set that sets it apart from its competitors. In other words, it gives its users the ability to express themselves without ruining the experience for everyone else. This is where MySpace and later Facebook ultimately failed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that social networks shouldn’t allow expression and creativity, but it’s important for social networks to maintain a clean and manageable brand while moving forward. With MySpace they completely lost control of their user interface by allowing unbridled customization of their profile pages. As a result MySpace became a cesspool for tacky layouts and low quality content. Facebook is on the course of doing the same with their expansive API that has allowed numerous applications that further degrade the user experience and cheapen the user interface.
If Google wants to grow to become the dominant leader in social networking it needs to continue to provide an outlet for user generated content without jeopardizing what makes them unique and desirable to both the general public and the social media elite. This means pushing users into other Google properties such as YouTube and Blogger.com while continuing to keep the Google+ stream free of obnoxious interruptions that take away from the user experience.
Sure there are some of you that love to customize your profiles and can’t imagine a world without Farmville. But it’s important to remember that even though you may feel as if you invested your time into helping these social networks grow and prosper, you are still just renting space on someone else’s website. In other words, when your landlord tells you not to paint the walls hang a pretty picture instead.