Working in digital, I pride myself on remaining flexible and open to change. As I evaluate LinkedIn's new user experience, the update is overall a usability improvement. Like any modern design enhancement, I expect a progressive rollout that will be iteratively updated based on customer feedback.
Below are 3 of my initial observations related to improvements and challenges.
3 LinkedIn User Experience Improvements
- General experience design. The page layout, content flow, navigational elements and iconography are aligned with UI/UX best practices and conventions. For example, the icon for editing sections - the blue pencil - is consistently placed in the upper right of each section and the editing and save functions are the same. The use of the page and white space makes readability easier for users.
- Publishing Platform. The full integration of the new publishing experience makes integration of text, video, presentations and other media effortless. The functionality remains largely the same, including the image sizing functionality.
- Mobile experience compatibility. The desktop UI is much more aligned with the mobile experience. Switching context feels less jarring than it did previous to the update.
3 LinkedIn User Experience Challenges
- Migration of CRM functionality to Sales Navigator. The most significant flaw in the new user experience involves the movement of the CRM functionality to the upgrade Sales Navigator. The lack of user communication and empathy when making the change is inexcusable. It is hard to blame LinkedIn and Microsoft for making this change from a business perspective, however, this key piece of functionality was not messaged correctly nor are the tags and notes automatically migrated forward. In fact, I currently have a two week old open Help Center case that is awaiting engineering to provide data so I can manually update my Sales Navigator account tags and notes. This has has a direct impact on my Q1 business as it has slowed targeted roles-based marketing efforts. The currently lost data also erodes my confidence in LinkedIn's data management capabilities. The net effect is that I downloaded my data archive and will solely utilize our CRM system outside of LinkedIn.
- Suppression of news channels and movement of Following information on the desktop interface. News on the desktop is no longer present, although the data is still presented on the mobile experience. I expect this to be reintroduced to the desktop to create parity of experience across the desktop and mobile context. The Following sections (Influencers, Companies, Schools and Groups) are also synopsized at the bottom of a profile and exposed along the right nav as part of the Activity tab when a user hits "See more." A user is next required to click "See more" to expose a more intuitive navigation box for the four follower section categories. This navigation could likely be streamlined to fewer than 3 clicks.
- Update of Twitter handles and WeChat in Privacy and Security. Customers cannot update their Twitter handles or WeChat profile information from the "Contact and Personal Info" editing section. Customers are required to exit the section, click on "Me" in the top nav bar, scroll down and click on Privacy and Settings and then scroll down and click on Twitter settings and WeChat settings independently to make edits. The final issue that will likely be addressed is that WeChat information doesn't populate on a profile if all other Contact and Personal Info is present, even with the "Should we display your WeChat account on your profile?" toggle set to "Yes."
Key Take Aways and Closing Thoughts
- LinkedIn is rolling the new experience out to groups of users and seems to have completed two waves to approximately 40% of users. LinkedIn has also been responsive to Help Center inquiries related to updates and is working to address challenges.
- For those that do not have Sales Navigator, the investment required to upgrade is not arbitrary. I believe LinkedIn squandered an opportunity to incentivize basic customers to upgrade by messaging the value and impact of the change.
- If you utilize(d) the CRM functionality (tags, notes and reminders), download your data archive by March 31st. Otherwise, your data will be lost (according to the LinkedIn Help Center email I received).
I hope to see the simple fixes made quickly and a program based on iterative and progressive improvements driven by LinkedIn customers. To do anything other than that will drive a wedge in the customer trust equation and open LinkedIn up to competition.