Google announced a redesign for Google Profile pages, which has a somewhat familiar look to it (if you're a Facebook user). There's a big profile picture in the upper left-hand corner now in a column, and the user's series of photos stretches across the top. Under that, there are sections for an introduction, employment info, education, places lived, etc. You can still connect the links you're associated with, just like the old profiles. There is a separate tab for Buzz.
Do you think the new Google Profiles design is an improvement? Share your thoughts.
"We think this new design helps highlight the information that’s most important to you, making it easier for people who visit your profile to get to know you," says product manager Greg Marra. "As the new layout gradually rolls out, current users of Google Profiles will notice that their existing profile will automatically update to the new style."
"Because Google Profiles are designed to be public pages on the web, used to help connect and find real people, we'll be asking people to provide the name they are commonly referred to in the real world," adds Marra.
An interesting side note to this story is that Rick Klau, who has been a product manager of Google Profiles for the past year, is now a product manager at YouTube. He says the most notable attributes of the new Profiles design from his point of view are:
- bigger profile pic - go update yours now! "scrapbook" lets you pick 5 thumbnails to show on your About page (clicking through will open the pics in full-screen lightbox mode)
- overall update to the look & feel "About" tab is the default tab (whether you use Buzz or not)
- Buzz users can choose to hide the tab (if, for instance, you don't use it or just don't want it shown)
- several fields have auto-complete (e.g., schools, employers)
- search visibility is controllable: you can choose to prevent your profile page from being indexed
Klau says once they got the Profile to code completion a few weeks ago, he moved over to YouTube. "I'm now a PM at YouTube, where I'm responsible for the homepage, YouTube's social strategy and a variety of other related pieces," he wrote on his blog. "Leaving the Profiles team was a very tough decision - I loved working with them and am eager to see the next set of things they launch."
Klau's knowledge of the Profiles and his new position could be a significant part of Google's overall social strategy. YouTube is easily Google's biggest social media asset. It's even often referred to as the second largest search engine. YouTube (which started requiring Google accounts from users last year) integration will likely be a big part of that strategy, along with social search, which the company recently updated. I have to think Gmail, Reader, Blogger, and Docs (not to mention Google Apps) will also have significant roles.
Google has been hinting at a "social layer" that will be added across many of its products sometime soon. The Google profile will likely be the center of all of that (along with the Google account itself) - much like the Wall/newsfeed for Facebook. It will be interesting to see how Google handles the promotion of it.
Google also recently rolled out a new top navigation bar across some of its properties, which is probably also related. This is just speculation, but the social layer is expected to surface (at least partially) in the form of a toolbar.
When someone asked Klau in the comments of a Google Buzz post if this is "THE big one or just part of the overall revamp of social across all of Google's services", Klau simply responded, "Now that I'm at YouTube, one of my responsibilities is ensuring that we do the right thing w/regards to social features and the YouTube community."
We're still very interested to see how Google evolves in the realm of social media, while Facebook evolves in the realm of search.
Marra says that Google will continue to look for ways for businesses to use Google Profiles. So that in itself is something to keep an eye on. There's a good chance Google is already a significant part of your business promotion and marketing strategies, so watch what Google does with the Profile (and Place Pages).
The new Profiles design is in the process of rolling out. If you're not seeing it, you should soon. You can always go to profiles.google.com to view you profile.
Do you use Google Profiles? How do you use them? Tell us about it.