LinkedIn’s recent roll out of a new desktop design is not just limited to a facelift. They have also introduced additional functionality for their users, including an updated search function and real-time messaging. Without any inside knowledge and as pure speculation, we reckon that LinkedIn have been looking at Mr Zuckerberg’s social network with envy over the past decade. Unable to innovate (probably because they are playing catch up), they have decided that plagiarism is an adequate substitute.
As mentioned in our previous post on LinkedIn’s redesign, not everyone has been included in the new roll out. However, this is not some sort of Trump-esque selective vetting; it takes time to roll out these types of changes and LinkedIn have reported that everyone will see their shiny new design in the coming weeks.
Buggy Roll Out?
We do not envy the User Acceptance Testing team at LinkedIn. This is the largest update to the system since they started and comes with large-scale design and functionality changes. However, the amount of bugs that we have found through our testing is somewhat alarming! Surely it would stand to reason that you would want your marquee pieces of functionality to be working as seamlessly as possible because people will head straight to this new functionality to see what the hype was about?
LinkedIn have nailed their colours to the mast by stating that the focus of this revamp is on conversations and content. Conversations. The messaging system on LinkedIn is a critical tool for conversations, especially considering that unlike Facebook you cannot post to someone’s wall and as such are limited to public communication through updates and comments. As such, it was a surprise to see that on two different computers in the office we were unable to scroll up to view an entire message. Checking this morning it appears that this bug has been rectified but for a whole week we had to deal with a major bug that prevented us from reading a message that required any sort of scrolling.
Auto Load News Feed
In tandem with LinkedIn’s focus on conversations is content. Pulse seems to go through periods of popularity and when utilised correctly can be a very effective platform for business related content marketing. LinkedIn’s problem is not Pulse – this is possibly the only area where they excel compared to other social networks. No, their issue is the news feed. Honestly, when was the last time you scrolled further than the first few items in your LinkedIn feed?! With a new design that prioritises the feed, it was again surprising to see a bug appear in the new roll out. The feed is currently only autoloading a certain amount of content before, well, simply stopping without offering a button to load more. We certainly hope this is a bug because if it isn’t, either LinkedIn have overlooked a simple call to action or worse their users are not producing enough content to provide a constant autoloading news feed. Even if it was the latter you would imagine that they would load older content or start to push through more ‘suggested’ (sponsored) content.
There are a number of smaller issues which we are sure the UAT team at LinkedIn will iron out. For example, when adding specialities to your company page, once you have typed your speciality you cannot just press the enter key, you have to click on the plus button to add it, although you can delete it be pressing the backspace key. We would also have expected an autofill function but that appears to have been neglected. Very strange. This might seem like nitpicking (and it is) so we there is a caveat to these accusations in that UAT is an almost constant process and platforms with such complexity are rarely perfect when large roll outs are made so all is not lost. It just seems like LinkedIn have more bugs than other platforms had when they made major changes.
Part of the new functionality is an increase in LinkedIn’s ability to provide the user with valuable suggestions; for example, The Verge commented on LinkedIn’s ability to suggest intros to be made via existing connections when searching for a job. Other suggestions, according to LinkedIn’s video on their redesign, include an auto filled suggestion for your profile summary based upon the other information on your profile, or more suggestions around shared experiences or qualifications. It is great to see LinkedIn include this functionality and we can see this being taken further by including push notifications of suggestions to users.
Revamped Search Function
The search function on LinkedIn is highly popular, especially amongst recruiters and headhunters who need to use advanced search options to locate individuals with whom they are not yet connected. The new search function funnels all users through a single search bar in the main navigation which then allows you to filter results on a search specific page. Gone is the ‘advanced search’ where you could previously type in company names or keywords, users now have to learn how to enter these formats into the search bar which, whilst not particularly taxing, feels somewhat like a step backwards.
The design is cleaner and auto suggest results more obvious but we feel that they may have chosen form over function here. This frustration only compounds LinkedIn’s reduction of search parameters late in 2016 for Premium users in favour of assigning the parameters exclusively to a higher tier (and therefore more expensive) membership.
More Versatile Messaging
As per our previous post on LinkedIn’s redesign, conversation is being paraded as one of two key focal points for LinkedIn. A messaging box in the bottom right hand corner for real time messaging has been introduced, in addition to the traditional inbox. The messaging system has also been upgraded to allow the sending of files and even emoticons, resulting in comments that LinkedIn are encouraging more conversational messaging. An interesting move for a platform purely for professionals but then again, you don’t have to send an emoji to a potential employer just because the functionality is there!
Improved News Feed Algorithm
LinkedIn’s new face has placed the feed slap bang in the centre of the user’s screen in an attempt to place content at the heart of the user experience. A claimed improvement to the algorithm offers both an algorithmic selection of articles and updates, combined with the back office LinkedIn editorial team. This update to their algorithm will mean a more personalised news feed experience for the user displaying more relevant content from connections as well as content from influencers, LinkedIn, sponsored content and suggestions.
Social networks are known for their addictiveness with users spending countless hours scrolling through news feeds and coming back every hour for their fix. Unfortunately this is not something that LinkedIn can claim – they have some of the lowest figures amongst the larger networks when it comes to regular users. Let’s hope that this updated news feed along with the rest of their updated functionality will help solve this problem.