Google Buzz is Google’s latest foray into social media. Buzz seems to borrow some elements from Twitter, a few from Facebook, and even some from FriendFeed. Like most new products, though, Buzz isn’t perfect. Many users have expressed their opinions on ways to improve Buzz, and we’re no different. Here are 5 ways we think Google can improve Buzz.
1. Make Comments Be Distinguishable from Buzzes
When you first open Buzz, you’re bombarded with a big blob of text. The first way that Google could improve Buzz is by tweaking the user interface to make comments more distinguishable from buzzes (we are going to use the term "buzz" to refer to Google’s equivalent of a tweet). Comments need to be indented more than they are now, or use a different font or font size than buzzes. Right now, except for a very slight indent of the comments and a thin line below a user’s initial buzz, comments blend together with buzzes. Comments also would be easier to visualize if user avatars appeared next to them, but perhaps Google feels that this would slow Buzz to a crawl.
2. Sort Buzzes by Buzz Chronology, Not Comment Chronology
Right now, a buzz will float to the top of the list every time someone posts a comment to it. I hate this. I care mostly about what the people I follow have to say, not about what commenters say. The current system makes it nearly impossible to find new buzzes. I want brand new buzzes to float to top in a busy stream, regardless of the age of comments.
3. Allow Users to Track Buzzes
This is a corollary to #2, above. After Google changes Buzz so that the most recent buzzes float to the top, then we’ll need a way to keep an eye on interesting discussions. A simple "follow this buzz" link would do the trick, coupled with a separate tab of followed buzzes. Or, Google could borrow the star functionality from Gmail and Reader, to get this same effect.
4. Better Integration with Other Social Media Sites
For Buzz to be a success, it will need to solve a need, not create another island to which users must row in order to get information. One way to achieve this would be through integration with other social media sites. Buzz does seem to allow for this to some extent, hooking up with Twitter, but even this integration is limited. I have tied my Twitter account to Buzz, and all that Buzz does is grab the tweets that I make, and pull them into Buzz. The inverse isn’t true, as my buzzes aren’t being sent into Twitter. This is an odd choice by Google, as it gives PR-minded users an incentive to use Twitter, and just have Buzz pull in tweets. If users could feed tweets to Twitter via Buzz, then Buzz would be the central hub.
There is also a way to connect Buzz with even more sites, but this isn’t simple, and won’t be readily apparent to most users. This needs to be easy, too.
Finally, Buzz should use icons to display from where an item originated. I’d likeTwitter tweets, for example, to have the Twitter icon next to them.
5. Keep Listening to User Feedback
Our next suggestion for Buzz was going to be that Google follow Facebook’s example, and only display a minimum number of comments, making the remaining comments be expandable with a click. It seems like Google has just implemented this, though. In just the few days that it has been out, Google has listened to its users in other areas as well, such as with privacy issues. If Google remains this responsive, Buzz could turn out to be a slick and powerful tool.
The good news is that since Buzz is an open platform, we should be able to count on savvy users cooking up some of these changes on their own. What changes would you like to see in Buzz? For even more suggestions, check out the Buzz stream of Steve Rubel. So far, I’ve been enjoying Buzz. You can see what I’ve been up to with Buzz here, and what Bobby has been up to here.