Yesterday brought the beginning of the rollout of a new and fresh Google+ website on both desktops and mobile browsers. The focus in Google's announcement was on the redesign, the bold colors, and the improved access to Collections and Communities, but there's a better story hiding there for everyone, especially me. (Excuse my selfishness.)
The previous Google+ page was a complete nightmare to load. I am bound by a stupid slow 512Kbps connection, and if you had ever tried to check Google+ on any connection slower than a few Mbps, you'd have a different outlook on life. While waiting for the home feed to load over the previous years, I've questioned the meaning of life, my annoying luck of being born in a country with such slow ADSL speeds, I've thanked my lucky stars for having access to an Internet connection to begin with, I've wanted to smash my computers and routers, I've laughed and teared up and played a bit of basketball and ate falafel and dispensed a few prescriptions to my patients, I've done some introspective thinking, watched half an episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine, and more... I have had the time for all of it because that Google+ page was a heavy loaded mess of useless code that was taking an eternity to open. I realize that it was partly my connection's fault, but other sites loaded slowly but just fine. Google+ almost never did and I knew Google surely could do something, anything to remove the bloat.
And now? It's like night and day. I've used the trick highlighted in our article to force the new page and splash, the home feed was there. I was dumbstruck. Google+ is fast. Those two words were an oxymoron for so many years. But now that the problem is gone, when will I find time to eat my falafel, Google?
If you want more deets, Google Developers' site has published a case study of the new Google+ redesign, explaining the rationale and methods for some of the changes and including this handy comparison that shows just how much of a difference they've made:
The total home page weight dropped from about 22MB to less than half a MB and the load time went from 12 to 3 seconds as measured by Google. Just imagine how much of an improvement that would be on a slow connection
However, there are downsides to the new page and a lot of functionality had to be stripped to allow for this faster loading time. For example, any interaction with a post now requires you to click to open it first, which means that reading full posts, commenting, plussing, editing, reporting, etc aren't as accessible as they used to be. But according to Luke Wroblewski, some of these features might make an appearance in the home feed once the rollout is finalized.
Honestly, even if these never show up on the main feed, it's a trade off I'm willing to accept, especially when the single post page is also very fast to load. I just want to be able to share Android Police's articles to our G+ page without having to sacrifice two sheep and half a dozen lambs.
- +Rosa Golijan