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Google Web Stories WordPress plugin officially released and reviewed

Released at the end of September, Google Web Stories is a new WordPress plugin designed to change how content is viewed on the internet. Web Stories are meant to be short bytes of information that cater to mobile markets.

Google’s apparent goal with Web Stories is pretty lofty on the surface. But whether the stated goals are delivered is another story altogether. This post will explore the initial web stories rollout. And cut through the clutter by getting to the point in this review

What are Google Web Stories first impression
Web Stories out of the box creates a positive first impression. This is a good plugin as far as WordPress plugins go. More importantly, it could be something great.
google webstories template screen
Templates look good on the surface, but they don’t match what modern internet users expect. More importantly, the templates don’t meet Google’s standards of quality.

As shown, Google Web stories are the Instagram story of websites. The templates are fine, and it does look good, even on a desktop. The problem is there aren’t many features built-in. Features are critical to staying ahead of the digital industry in its modern form.

You can’t add sound without creating a video file. And the point here is that not having sounds built-in means it’s not up to par as far as industry standards. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s still a nail in the coffin.

Google web stories plugin settings page
This is the Web Stories settings screen. All you can do is upload your logo and put in a tracking code. We can’t help but point out the irony of having tracking as the main feature.
Google Web stories editor
This image is not cropped badly. The top of my editor screen always cuts off when making Web Stories. Fixing this little bug might involve removing Google Chrome features, or removing the browser altogether. That’s called a red flag.

Web Stories has no animations built in either. This is problematic, especially when Google itself recommends making web stories look amazing. If people have to create a video file and then host said videos, why put them in a web story? We can all embed the video file into our websites already. Plus displaying the videos that way is easier to monetize.

Besides some relatively minor bugs, the only main thing to harp on is that accessibility features continue to be unintuitive. I’m sorry, but nobody knows what it’s like to need to use a screen reader. More importantly, there isn’t a good place to learn.

Stories in use on desktop
When Web Stories work, they are easy to use. It seems like browser caching can cause some strange problems. Like the page loading forever as seen in this picture.
web stories ending screen on desktop
There are no share links available on the desktop operating systems. That seems like another missed opportunity to build a real foundation around Google Web Stories.

As this story unravels, it feels like another method where Google punishes content creators. Plus, the effort involved in the rollout of Google Web stories seems pretty weak. In addition to the lack of major early adoption makes it look like another bait tactic.

A better analogy would be the Web Stories rollout is like throwing content creators a bone with no meat on it. We will still toy around with the ones we have, but realistically the only strategy is to wait for Google to add real features. Plus, there’s reason to wait for a new WordPress update launch in December.

Google was on the right track when they dreamt up the Web Stories plugin. The reality is I don’t think people are that into it. I mean, where’s the value supposed to be? How much can a content creator squeeze out of 100 words of text? I suppose it’s up to me to find out and finish this story for you.

Maybe we should think about starting to hold Google more accountable. We were all probably hoping the Web Stories platform would start something different, but the development is just too slow. It looks nice, but we should all expect more from Google.

December Google Web Stories Updates:

Google released at least two updates to the web stories platform in December. The first one added Gifs, which is pretty cool if you want to go back to the early 2000s.

The second update I’m going to mention hit the spot, though. Google added animations to their web stories. And I mean, you can animate everything now, which is a huge win in my book.

If you are a content creator, you can reconsider using web-stories. But some of the same problems remain. If you can figure out how to squeeze value out of 100 words of text, I say more power to you. It doesn’t seem easy, though, just saying.

All that stuff exists on top of the fact that Web Storie’s won’t embed past strict security protocols. That’s probably an easier fix, though. All in all, progress has been made, and that counts for something.

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