Massive performance improvements: Google+ goes completely responsive

By James C | Monday, 16 November 2015

Google have begun rolling out a new version of its often-overlooked social network, Google+.

Not only does the redesigned platform feature Communities and Collections with increased prominence, it also comes with a whole raft of performance improvements.

The tech giant's social media network never did kill of Facebook like it was predicted to — for that matter, it probably didn't even impact Facebook's traffic for more than a day or two. It may even come as a surprise to many people that Google+ is still going at all. But Google might just be able to save the platform.

New Features

Back in March of this year,'s contributing editor John Brandon wrote that Google was "Finally Putting Google+ Out of Its Misery". He expressed what many people felt about Google+ in a crowded social media market, saying:

You can post easily to Google+ (and I did, for a while), but few of us have time to manage Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates, our Twitter activity, and then jump over to see who has liked (er, plus one'd) a message, let alone track followers (er, circles)

Adding that it seemed like the reason Google was making the move at the time to split the platform into Photos and Streams was to save investment, keep the code, and shut down Google+ altogether.

So it's a little surprising that here we are in November, and not only is Google+ still, sort of, a thing, but that Google are still actively working on improving it.

Earlier this year, Google announced the introduction of Collections — where a user's posts are organised according to topic — and the similar-but-different Communities, that work a little bit like a Facebook group, except for looking much better and cleaner.

In today's update, Eddie Kessler (Google's "director of streams") writes that both features are growing tremendously, with Communities alone averaging over a million new joins per day.

It's because of this growth, Kessler says, that from today Google+ is putting both Collections and Communities front and centre. Now focused around interests, Kessler says, the new Google+ is much simpler.

Fully Responsive

Ilya Grigorik, web performance engineer for Google, shared on the Google Developer blog the post Google+ goes completely responsive, noting that the new site has "massive perf improvements".

Grigorik lists among these performance improvements a faster and leaner site.

The biggest problem for Google+ to overcome was, Grigorik says, that there were two different versions of their website — one for desktop, and one for mobile.

The latter was designed for older browsers, while Grigorik says the former became "slow and bloated." It can be hard to imagine such a forward-thinking company such as Google, a company that champions HTML5, being in this position. It's lucky for Google+'s users that Google made the obvious decision to embrace responsive design for a site that would work "across mobile, tablet, desktop, and beyond."

It's no exaggeration on Grigorik's part to call the improvements "massive": Google+'s new site has a total home page weight of just 327 KB (down from 22,600 KB) and an average complete page load time of 3 seconds (reduced from 12.)

Read more about the technical specifications and improvements here.