5 Things to Make Google+ 50 Times Better

First the pleasantries - Google+ is great. Everyone working on it should get a round of applause. Now stop patting yourselves on the back, you've got a lot more work to do.

1. Quit being like facebook.
Not too long ago, you changed the notification pane without warning. New features are great, but changing the way things work without any kinds of heads up makes for a bad impression. 
- First, it says you don't care what we think. You undoubtedly got feedback on how to improve the notification pane, but also consider all of the feedback you didn't get about the notification pane. Changes like this paint you like a dictator imposing his will on the people. The people hate it when facebook does it, they're going to hate it when you do it too.
- Second, people don't like being confused. Send us a notification (preferably in advance), with a link to written and picture/video description of the changes. Show us how things used to be, how they are now, and tell us why you decided to make the change. It'll seem like you care what we think and prevent confusion.

2. Don't be an open beta.
You're a large respected company, don't put out things that function poorly. Especially don't put out things that function poorly in the Chrome browser.  I'm sure you'll have no problem finding volunteers to test out these sort of changes for you before you roll them out to the public. In fact, I'd volunteer. I'd actually be surprised if you didn't do this already, but based on the notification pane it would seem that if you have these volunteers either you aren't listening to them or they aren't very good at finding problems.

Broken Notification Pane
Not to harp on the new notification pane, but it's broken - in more than one way.
- When you open it, you see something like this:
The first part isn't bad. Nice line at the top to identify the post by author and title. Shows the new comment and apparently the total +1s.

Clearly though, the html showing in the second part looks like ass. It's embarrassing to release that sort of thing to the public. Shame! Shame! The whole world is watching!

Then, when you select one of the notifications, you get more detailed information about that particular notification - good thinking!
Oh, look at that awesome summary of things that have happened to that post. That's really nice. Who commented, who shared, who +1'd.

Oh sweet, I can reply from right here. That's great. You know what though... I have a lengthy and insightful comment I'd like to add, and I would feel more comfortable doing it in a larger area than the notification pane.

I remember on the old notifications, it would say: This fella has commented on one of your posts. That word posts would be a link to take you to the full page version. Where did that link go...

Let's see, I can go back to the previous page, check newer or older notifications, view the profile page of those named in the summary, view my own profile page, view my photo albums, get a link to the profile of the guy who shared by clicking on 1 share..expand the comments...view a list of all my posts. 
But I can't just click somewhere and go to the full page version of THIS post?
How about...
Broken 'Send feedback' button
It's awesome that you have the 'Send feedback' button at all. Makes us feel like you care, you really care. Until we try to you use it and it doesn't work. 

You see, when I click the 'Send feedback' button, the thing 'analyzes the page'. Maybe it's because the analyzer uses the same innovative 'pane' technology, but as soon as I click the button all the other panes close. So, if I'm trying to send you feedback on say..the notification pane.. I can't, because the notification pane closes as soon as I click 'Send feedback'...

3. Make being shared with less frustrating
I'm not sure what your intended usage of the 'Share' link is, but here's how I use it and why it's frustrating:
I share - when someone posts something I want the world to see. Maybe someone else posts a picture or writes something worth reading
I share - when someone posts a link to an outside blog or article that I think people should check out.

The thing is, I don't really want to talk to the people I'm sharing with about other people's content. I just want them to see the content. They can thank me with a +1 on my share. If they want to discuss the content, they should discuss it with the original poster. 

When one wants to discuss something that's been shared - the best place to do that is on the original post. Unfortunately, the Google+ team has decided to make it a giant pain to do that. It's another those - lack of a convenient link situations. Here's the fix:

4. Let us bookmark posts
There's a lot of stuff you can do on Google+ that takes just a minute or two. Watch YouTube videos your circleds have put in your stream, look at neat photos or funny cartoons, fire off a quick reply to a conversation you're following, check your notifications...

One thing you can't do that's sorely missing, however, is mark things for later followup. If one of my circled share a link to an 8-page article about quantum mechanics as we know it - I might very well want to read it but not have the time. While there are work arounds, wouldn't this be better:

5. Best of: Us - on our profiles
It'd be damn cool if you could go to someone's profile and there'd be a Best Of link that shows the 5 posts that received the most +1s from other Google+ users.