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Dear Google, please stop confusing us

Google Plus confusionI love Google. I love it as a user, I love it as a marketing person and I love the creativity of the company and its various products, and the way it is working to aggregate data and usage. I think the Google Plus layer across all the products is a good idea, creating a mix of social consciousness and functionality while enabling the identity of individuals to be tied to a multitude of services.

I’m a long way from finding a reason to not use Google products but I am fast losing my patience and beginning to question my previously forthright praise of all things Google. It’s now turning into a usability nightmare of Spaghetti Junction proportions and the sooner they sort this out the better.

I’m talking about the confusion they have created between Google Plus local for business, Google Plus business profiles, Google Places, Google maps etc. If you had a business listing on Google Places, this is now called a Google Plus page, even though you may already have a separate Google Plus page. Google announced that you can merge the two but this only seems to be true if you created your Plus page a certain way, on a Tuesday night in June while Scorpio was rising and Venus was in the north.

Google says you can continue to manage your Places listing, which is now a Google Plus page, through Places, but when you do, you are taken to a Google Plus interface, where half of the things you try to edit don’t seem to appear on the page itself. We’re told they take a few days to change but in my experience they don’t change at all at the moment.

You need to use a Google Plus profile to use Google Plus pages, so you now need to understand whether you are logged in as you, as your page or not at all. The oft heard Google motto (whether it’s a real one or not I don’t know) is “launch early, iterate often”. That approach works for a search engine and it works for one product. It does not work for a suite of different products that all have a confusingly similar brand name. The motto there should be, “Work it out, make it easy to understand, then launch it.”

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