Looking for an alternative to the ugly speech bubbles in Google+?

By | May 7, 2012

I hate the new Google+ UI: it's way too cluttered. I know everyone else has had to deal with it for a while, but I've been postponing that by using the Android app in the past weeks. Now, I've finally gotten around to making the user interface more usable.

So here's my stylized version of Google+ for Chrome, which basically does nothing except overload the Google+ stylesheets. It takes a bit of getting used to, as all the 'useful' stuff are now at the bottom, but I've eliminated the biggest pain points that have been irking me:

1. No more space-consuming speech bubbles. I've gotten rid of the speech bubbles and compacted them considerably, so that now I can actually see more than one post at a time on my screen.

2. Circle list is always accessible. Instead of having to scroll to the top to pick another circle, the list is always visible and clickable at the bottom right corner.

3. Post-writing box is always accessible. Instead of having to scroll to the top to write a new post, this option is always available from the bottom left corner.

4. The +1 / Share buttons and statistics are back where they used to be. They are now back in the lower right corner of the post instead of the lower left corner.

5. No more space-consuming connection suggestions. And no more extra white space when I scroll down reading new posts. 🙂

Feel free to give it a try, if you'd like – suggestions and comments to improve the experience are welcome!

14 thoughts on “Looking for an alternative to the ugly speech bubbles in Google+?

  1. Sophie Wrobel

    Not sure, but I updated the version number + GDrive plugin just in case it was that. Also:
    – Added options page
    – Added a pause button (at bottom left)
    – Fixed narrow width overlapping problem for 1 column
    – Fixed buttom bar so that it should adjust to full width
    – '2 columns' is not really two columns, it is more of a 'sort' which moves certain types of posts to the right half of the screen. It looks nicest with two columns, but if you have a wider screen, it will add more columns (with ugly spaces between posts again); there is no upper limit. The selection box in options to choose what goes in the second column does not work at the moment, it is more for illustration for you.

  2. Frédéric Bazin

    I am sorry I won t get into coding before mid July but reading the commits will be an excellent tutorial !
    I just downloaded from GDRIVE
    2.video bug is fixed.
    1.I can t see the 2 columns on my chromium browser. Maybe GDrive is not up to date ? file size is 4,694 bytes,version 1.3

    Also, I have been playing with width. 4 columns mode works here ! I found that it cannot resize to 1 column anymore. If l shrink the window around 1000 width it still display 2 columns and they are almost overlapping.
    With the extra wide mode, the bottom bar also does not adjust to full width. Is it a bug ? Maybe related to above issue ?

  3. Sophie Wrobel

    +Frédéric Bazin Ha, my kids went to sleep early today… so now it's updated again:

    1. 2-column format: pictures & videos in the right column, and the 'heavy reading' in the left column.
    2. Fix the button-overlapping-video-bug.

    See what you think.

  4. Frédéric Bazin

    I understand as I experience similar situation… I personally enjoy a lot code review and UX review and my feedback is only intended to be supportive.
    If you share the project repository later on, I'd be happy to jump on it during the summer.

  5. Sophie Wrobel

    +Frédéric Bazin the challenge is that it would mean actually writing a few lines of code, and that needs a longer block of contiguous time in front of the computer than 5 minutes to do.

    Sorry if it sounds not committed – I have to deal with my little ones and they don't like it when I don't play with them during the day (and feed them at night)!

  6. Frédéric Bazin

    One little bug on video. After you start playing a video, the 3 buttons(share,bublle +1) stays on top of the video frame and they are almost hiding click access to youtube 's control: watch later, watch on youtube, full screen)

  7. Frédéric Bazin

    Just tested. works fine and UI now feels polish. Almost ready to go public. Though it now requires chrome extended APis flags enabling.
    Will start praying for javascript injection, every night from now on….

    Btw what is the challenge for javascript? significant work on coding and risk of breaking G+ ? Or permission issues ?

  8. Sophie Wrobel

    Updated: now with multi-column format (though I'm not too satisfied with the implementation, but it's the best I can get without having to inject JavaScript), current G+ classes, and fixed the video bug.

  9. Sophie Wrobel

    +Frédéric Bazin thanks for the comments – will take a look later. 🙂

    I do agree with two-column formatting – although it would still be painful on very very large screens (yes, I know someone who had one, with horizontal width covering about five normal screens). 🙂

    +Victor Alberto Gil there's a very light line separating the posts from comments. Maybe I should make it more prominent?

  10. Victor Alberto Gil

    I just tried your extension, but I found it lack of accessibility because posts are displayed so close from each other that sometimes I confuse posts from comments. Maybe it is only me or my monitor. And reading stuff in a large line is annoying at least for me. It looks just like a forum page. Just my opinion, please don't hate me 😉

  11. Frédéric Bazin

    1 bug report:
    when clicking on a video, G+ usually enlarge post height to give space for Youtube menu but with your extension they remain hidden.
    1 visual glitch:
    when on mouse over +1 button, there is some flickering because showing the +1 image affects height of the comment below

  12. Frédéric Bazin

    First, I have been using +Fixer for a while which offer quite a few nice features like minimizing the chat window.

    But your extension has at least 1 killer feature (4) because I believe saving vertical space is the most important user enhancement.
    I am not a big fan of (1) besides vertical space saving but it s rather a matter of personal taste and design.
    (2) and (3) are so natural that I did not saw the bar at first. Well done !

    I am very happy with vertical space optimization you deliver. There is still work to be done on horizontal space, especially on a large screen (full HD like mine).

    A/ The post box and circle list only take 50% of screen width. Automatically adjusting the number of visible circles by extracting a few hidden one from "plus" menu would be great.

    B/ full width posts is still not a panacea for large screen. reading is tiresome and quite often small posts paragraphs turn out to be 1 liner. I would suggest to split the posts in 2 columns:
    – 1 for video preview or images
    – 1 for text
    This mod would bring even more vertical space optimization and reduce impact on readability and text layouts.
    Furthermore, minimizing the chat window (as +Fixer does) would make this feature doable even on medium width screens ( 1440 or 1650)

    This little experiment of yours increase my temptation of finally diving into javascript.


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