Google+ Whitespace by Spencer Cartwright

Hey everyone, I thought I would freshen up the blog a little by introducing a guest poster. There is an amusing yet interesting trend on Google+ at the moment so I happened to stumble upon a great post by Spencer Cartwright who has kindly agreed to write about the topic:

Yesterday (11th April) 204 days since Google+ opened its doors to the general public, the coolest social network received its first major makeover. The reaction has been very postive and it is clear that Google has been listening to its users. The new look Google+ interface boosts a customisable toolbar (Ribbon), a reformated comments and post interation area, a bigger emphasis on multimedia in posts and a general tidying up of the screen.

However, one issue that dominated discussions yesterday was the increase in unused screen space, dubbed whitespace. So much chatter was generated that the #usesofwhitespace and #useofwhitespace hastags rapidly climbed into the top five trending topics for Google+. The whitespace is a result of the main conversation feed (Stream) has been moved over to the left which means if you’re viewing Google+ on a widescreen monitor (and who isn’t these days?) you have almost half your screen unused. To be fair, when you’re at the top of your Stream, there are useful elements such as the list of trending topics and contact suggestions. This has prompted many innovative suggestions for the bright white area of your screen. Many posts have appeared with people using it to illuminate x-rays, to rest their iPad against and to hang strips of bacon from (I kid you not!).

Google Plus White Space

However, in the meantime, I would like to suggest some more practical uses for this space So here are my five top ideas for what they’re thinking:

1) Dockable window/pop-out for Hangouts – How cool will it be to have video chat going on while monitoring the Stream?

2) The return of YouTube – The YouTube player tab is no more, but the whitespace gives a great area for it to return to.

3) Custom Stream/Search – The ability to set up a second stream based on a custom search. You could keep your eye on a trending topic while still following the general conversations.

4) Widget area – As Google services become more integrated, the space could accomodate your stocks and weather widgets, your gmail notifications and Google Calendar. Think about how an iGoogle homepage looks.

5) Split pane – Have the stream on the left and the ability to open your Circles screen, photos or a game in the right hand area. True social media multitasking. It would be awesome to have your photos open on the right and then drag them directly into the Stream to create a new post.

I can guarantee that those clever people at Google have already got ideas of what they’re are going to do with this space. All the designers will be working on widescreen monitors and they all know about good design. So there is no way the unused screen area hasn’t gone unnoticed. We are just going to have to be patient and wait and see. One final thought, this whitespace has arisen because of an efficient design by the Google team. To have all this functionality at our fingertips, for it to be intuitive and still have room to spare on the screen, I think is a testament to the skill of the Google+ team.

Spencer Cartwright is an educator with a passion for the use of technology in the classroom. You can follow him on Google+ via his personal profile (bitly.com/spencermc) or his ICT blog (bitly.com/spenceict), on Twitter (@spenceict) or on his website www.spenceict.co.uk


3 comments for “Google+ Whitespace by Spencer Cartwright

  1. April 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I think the ideas you’ve come up with would be awesome. In the meantime (and if none of your tabs ideas are implemented, or not used by a user), I think it would be useful for the centre pane to simply be centred. Maybe the whole page should be, but at least centre pane. There would still be a load of whitespace, but it would be less noticeable, and the page would generally feel less… lop-sided.

    • April 16, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      That’s a really good idea too Thomas. I imagine all of these whitespace comments would have been avoided if the stream was originally centred until it is actually used for something, I could actually foresee a centred stream looking best of all anyway.

  2. January 31, 2013 at 7:40 am

    bright ideas, does not mean if can not actually be implemented, and will increase in value if the benefit to many people.

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