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Why Google+ Circles is Failing

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A quick-and-dirty task-based usability study that set out to understand one aspect of the Google+ experience. Conducted by IIT Institute of Design Graduate Students Jin Shaun Ang, Kris Angell, and Joe Gray. More here: http://bit.ly/sZDcIP

Published in: Design, Technology, Business
  • I totally agree with you about the G+
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  • @mandarake: Thanks for reading. It seems you’ve misunderstood the finding on slide 17 and perhaps we should have worded it more clearly. We do not state that Google+ 'has friend requests,' rather we observed that users expect the task of adding friends on Google+ to act similarly to Facebook in this regard. The slide reads:

    'Once a friend is found, users assume their friend request must be accepted:
    Based on their previous experience with Facebook, users assumed they couldn’t privately message their new friends until their friend request was accepted.'

    So to your point, our respondents failed to understand that Google+ can be both unidirectional and bi-directional.

    Regarding problem framing: We declared our intent on slide two (understanding why Circles is underutilized) and designed a task-based diagnostic usability test with Google+ users toward that end. None of our respondents felt the task we asked them to perform was outside of the realm of activities they would expect to do on Google+. How, specifically, do you feel we should have framed the problem in this case? How would you have designed the diagnostic task?

    With regard to expected results, we of course had some ingoing hypotheses based on an heuristic evaluation conducted prior to this small study (it’s not uncommon to do such an evaluation prior to engaging users in a full-blown usability test). The recruited users conducted the task while we observed their behaviors and recorded the motion and clicks of their mouse. Our findings, some of which supported our hypotheses, are based on these observations.

    Regarding subject bias: None of our respondents were told of any of our hypotheses prior to the study. Nor were they recruited based on characteristics that would specifically compromise their ability to complete the diagnostic task.

    Lastly, it is our hope that this study helps create a better Google+ user experience. So if I have a bias, it is certainly on the side of the user.
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  • I stopped reading after Slide 17, where the authors showed their ignorance. Google+ does not have 'friend requests.' That's a fundamental difference in the way Facebook treats relationships (bidirectional 'friends') vs. Google+ (can be unidirectional or bidirectional).

    So this study is really a great example of investigator and subject bias and failing to frame the problem, thus getting expected results. Bookmarked for that reason. :)
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  • precise!
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  • Quick little usability study conducted by Jin Shaun Ang, Kris Angell, and Joe Gray of the IIT Institute of Design.
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