Earlier this morning, Google pushed out an overhaul of its social networking site in an aim to simplify user interactions.

If you’ve logged onto Google Plus this morning, you may have already noticed the interface overhaul. Google’s official blog posted the announcement a few hours ago, but we’ll give you a brief synopsis of what you can expect from the social networks latest redesign.

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One of the biggest new features is the navigation pane added to the left side of the screen. Users can customize the navigation pane as well. For example, if you never play games on the site, you can drag the games icon off of the navigation bar and it will update your preference to not have that icon appear any more. Along the same lines, you can click a “More” button to see more icons you can easily drag to the navigation bar to display instead of say, the games icon.

The new navigation bar also lets you rearrange the icons, to better suit what features you actually use and how often you use them. Finally, you can hover over icons to display quick actions. That way, users don’t have to go to a completely new page, but can simply perform new actions from their current view.

Overall, from the videos that Google has made and posted along with the company’s announcement, it appears as though the aim of the redesign is to centralize features. One example shown in a video is that by clicking the hangouts icon on the navigation pane, you’ll be taken to a view that shows all of your current hangout invitations, as well as all of your online friends, and an easy-to-see button to start your own hangout.

Regular On Air hangouts or popular hangouts that many users attend will get a featured space on the hangout page, so you can see what’s going on and join if you’re interested. The company also points out that hangout apps are in progress and will be available for download for users in the near future.

A few weeks ago, Google Plus introduced the “What’s Hot” feature on every profile. The most shared and “+1’d” posts would be considered “What’s Hot” and would be displayed in every users feed, regardless of whether you were following that post or person, or not. The “What’s Hot” feature had a gradation setting where you could see more of the most popular posts, some of them, or even none of the “hot” posts. Today’s redesign shows a more concentrated version that in a navigation button labeled “Explore.”

The “Explore” view not only shows the “What’s Hot” posts, but it also shows topics that users are talking about most on the site, called trending topics. Users can click the trending topics to see all posts from all users (as long as the posts are public) about that topic. On Google’s blog post about the new design, the company says it designed the new layout specifically with expansion in mind, to make sure “the next big thing” will fit into the Google Plus layout with minimal, future overhaul.

As for other media being shared on Google Plus, the site now allows photos and videos to be displayed as larger thumbnails within a users feed. Underneath each post, conversations are being displayed in what Google is calling “conversation cards.” Additionally, albums show a main photo and by hovering over that photo, a stream of thumbnails the rest of the photos in the album will pop-up.

Google Plus’s traffic is growing, slowly but surely. It may be a long ways off from toppling Facebook’s stranglehold on the majority of social networking traffic, but this sleek and easy-to-use design is certainly a step in the right direction. If you’re interested in reading more about Google Plus, click over to our blog post about the social network expanding its user base to younger Internet users.