It’s been a month since the official release of Google’s latest social product, Plus. I was lucky of receiving an invitation from a friend a couple of weeks ago and so far I have to say that this time Google has hit the spot, Plus is everything you expect from a social network plus all the features that Google has always brought to us, though it might take a while before it spreads to a major audience because after all, Google will have to compete against fully established networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
As it always happens in social media, people is desperately trying to harness Plus’ boom and that’s why we’re seeing tons of scripts, plugins, “ultimate” guides and more stuff being released every day, so if everyone else is doing it, then there’s nothing wrong in trying to grab a slice of the cake for ourselves as well, right? hahaha. OK, I’m just kidding, though there are dozens of “Google Plus, all secrets revealed” articles and things like that, no one has considered how this new social (or sharing as Google prefers to call it) network is going to influence specific fields such as marketing, journalism or design, and that’s why on this article we’re going to make a brief analysis on how Google Plus is going to help designers and why you as a designer should become part of this new website.
If you are a Facebook or Twitter user, then you know that the first one offers you the chance of becoming fan of a page to stay informed of the latest news of your favorite artists and topics, while Twitter lets you follow directly all your favorite artists and companies and hence obtain access to real time news of everything that happens around them. Google Plus has incorporated an innovative system dubbed Sparks, whose functionality is similar to Google News, a service that catches all the important news from the web and gathers them in one place, the difference with Sparks is that you can define the topics that you’re actually interested in and discard the rest, you just need to add the different interests to your Sparks sidebar and check them every time you access Plus to see what’s going on in the life of your favorite rockstars or discover the newest lens that Nikon has released.
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As designers, we’re always working with tons of people on multiple projects and often simultaneously. Usually one of the easiest ways of maintaining a permanent communication with the client is through email and chat, which is something that Google has mastered a long time ago in Gmail, the mailing service by excellence and GTalk, one of the most popular chat providers around.
One of the main problems that affects designers is procrastination, which is just a fancy way of saying sloth. We love to spend time tweeting, looking for new designers on Behance, updating our Flickr profile and more, making us miss the occasional meeting with our clients. But now that Google Plus is out, we can continue wasting time and yet stay connected 24/7 for everyone.
The biggest fuss that Google Plus has provoked is probably its Circles feature, an original way of managing contacts that offers a better privacy level than FB with a functionality similar to Twitter’s. Unlike Facebook where it’s required that the other person has included you on his contacts in order to see his updates, Plus does not care about who’s friend of who, because in order to see someone’s updates, you must be part of one of the person’s circles but you don’t need to have him in yours, besides, Plus informs to the other person whether you have it or not on your circles but it does not reveal in which circle you have him, so there’s no way that he finds out that he’s part of the ‘Be Careful’ circle next to your boss and your ex-girlfriend hahaha.
Thanks to circles, now you can add your professional contacts in one circle and your family in another, that way you won’t have to bore your parents with your thoughts on the latest Photoshop version, also your colleagues won’t be disturbed with your drunken pictures from last night or bored with your sister’s sweet sixteen pictures. This functionality makes of Plus a much better choice for those who want to keep both their personal and professional life in a single network.
And if GTalk inside Plus seems to be a really nice feature, wait until you see Hangouts. This nice feature allows you to host / join live video conferences with up top 10 different persons, share YouTube videos, organize meetings and more!. The great thing about Hangouts is that you don’t need to call the person and wait for his reply because with Hangouts, you can instantly join the conversation.
But Hangouts are not just for hanging out with your friends and attending meetings with people from all over the world, designers can actually find some pretty cool uses to this service. Just to give you an example, you could shoot a simultaneous video with all your friends or create an exquisite cadaver with people from the other side of the world!.
Uploading your portfolio
For graphic designers, there’s one thing that matters more than even the C.V and that’s the portfolio. If you read our article of best online services to showcase your work, then you know that there are many great sites where you can submit your design work, however, these sites are generally visited by people within the design circle exclusively, which is great because it helps you meet potential clients and colleagues, but as for the rest of the world, your work will remain in the shadows.
If you want to reach a wider audience, then you’ll have to host your work in places such as Facebook or Blogger. These sites work well but they were not conceived as places where designers can showcase their work, hence the main structure inside these sites is really basic and designed to optimize images and support fast uploads.
With Google Plus, you have a powerful social network where not just designers concur but everyone, nevertheless, this is not an impediment because Plus features an excellent photo viewer that is much more than just a simple album section inside your profile. You can create individual albums for showcasing your photography work in one and your illustrations in other, or what if you want to share a step-by-step of your work?, Google Plus can definitely help you do that.
Instant mobile upload
If Android is not enough prove of Google’s interest in mobile devices then its Plus app definitely will. The Google Plus application for mobiles is definitely a nice asset for designers thanks to its neat features, the first one we have is Huddles, a nice feature that a allows you to take part in multiple conversations within a simple chat group, this feature can be really helpful for those cases when you don’t have a computer next to you and it’s imperative to make contact with your clients or coworkers. The app also includes all the main features of the desktop version but what definitely caught our attention is the photo upload system.
The Android instant upload system rocks!, you can instantly upload all your photos and videos to a private album in the cloud, then you just need to access the album and share it with the circles you want. Thanks to this feature you will be able to record all presentations and occasional inspirations that you found during your daily walk to the bus stop.
High quality videos
Many designers (including me) love to work with video and animation, from making short clips to 3D music videos, this era is the most visual period in the history of mankind, HD cameras, high definition television, 3D movies and more, this is definitely the time of visual artists.
There are many sites where you can upload your videos in decent quality such as Vimeo or the same YouTube, but now there’s another option that will help you integrate quality videos with a complete social experience. Thanks to the fact that Google owns YouTube, they were able to integrate its video engine inside Plus, so you can upload HD videos and visualize it on fullscreen without leaving Plus.
Contact Information in your Profile Picture
Introducing to your clients is probably the most important part at the moment of establishing a business relationship, this is a process where both parts create a bound that will help them consolidate a strong partnership and work together in future projects.
One of the best practices for causing a good first impression is via business cards, a simple element that has the power of telling everything about you in an instant. There’s no way of translating a business card into the web, or at least there wasn’t until now because with Google Plus, you can create imitate your business card with front and back included.
What happens when you find an amazing website or a awe-inspiring video on the web?, you will probably tweet about it and share it with your friends via Facebook. but how can you retrieve this link if you want to take a glance at it after a few months of having shared it?, finding it will be kind of hard on Twitter unless you have saved it in your favorites, while Facebook will force you to expand your entire publishing history until you find the post. Plus has leveraged Google’s +1 button to help you have a permanent directory with all the things that you like from now on.
If you click on the +1 button when you find something you like (this button has not been implemented in all sites yet), the link gets automatically stored in your +1′s tab, which you can find in your Google Plus profile, so now you’ll have a complete directory of all the things you like on the web, which in case of designers can be dozens of links per day.
As you can see, Google Plus offers a series of features that can be definitely helpful for any designer or person within the field, however, it’s not like you’re going to be out of date if you don’t open a Google Plus account because after all, we designers already have awesome places such as Behänce, Coroflot or the same LinkedIn where we can exchange contacts and build new business relationships. Google Plus is indeed a great social bet from the Google team that will gradually become one of the most popular products in the company, you might want to open an account to check the Sparks and have your portfolio uploaded in one more page but besides that, Plus is nothing but a new product that you will be using eventually when there’s nothing going on in your Twitter stream and your friends are not available for chat in Facebook.
P.S: You can open a Google Plus account for free but in case that you can’t, just leave us a comment and we’ll gladly send you an invitation ;).