• With Its Latest Profile Change, Google+ Gets Rude Mar 12, 2013

    With Its Latest Profile Change, Google+ Gets Rude


    When you are managing many dozens of websites, as we do at Highpoint, it is sometimes necessary to upgrade many or all of them within a short span of time. From an efficiency standpoint, one is tempted to just apply a patch or upgrade a template and then hope that none of your customers' sites are the worse for it.

    But if there is one thing that every new recruit learns when they join our team, it is never to implement a change that will adversely affect a live website. Or, at least, do everything in your power to avoid it. And if you must make a change that will modify a customer's website, explain what you are going to do in advance and give them plenty of time to adjust their content.

    Which is why I was especially surprised by the way Google introduced its changes to Google+ profile pages this past week. The change was arguably a good one: Modify the aspect ratio of the cover photo to 16:9, the standard for HDTV. This gives page designers a bigger canvas to express themselves and eliminates the need to find or create an image that can be cropped to the extreme dimensions of the old cover photos.

    The problem is, Google did so without giving fair notice. And it did so in a way that could instantly make your "old" lovingly-designed cover image quite unsightly. Because, regardless of how you designed your old cover, the new one was going to add a semi-transparent dark gradient to the bottom, overlay your name and contact information in white sans serif type, then cameo your profile photo in a circle on the lower left. This may have looked fine with some old-style cover designs, but in the case of a couple of ours, it killed them.

    Of course, a competent designer can handle changes in design specifications -- no problem. But no one should be made to drop what they are doing and patch up their page just to prevent it from becoming instantly ugly.

    I am not a great fan of Facebook, but at least when they switched to their current "Timeline" design, they did provide plenty of notice. They even gave their users the choice of when to throw the switch. So what happened, Googlers? Why so rude?