How LinkedIn Chose To Innovate And Keep Things Fresh

  • Author: Lauren
  • Lauren Fisher,

Sites are constantly evolving and the mantra of innovate or die is more apparent for social media sites that want to stay relevant. In case users get bored, changes are made to either improve the experience, or just to freshen things up. Its most recent change is the introduction of the 'Endorsement' button, which hopes to change the way we use the site.

Despite not being entirely reliant on page visits, instead it focuses on data and that generates more than enough for the company, LinkedIn has made a vast number of changes to its site, some were practical while others are cosmetic. Either way, the company has been very busy in fine-tuning the site to meet user demand and prepare itself for the challenges ahead. With that in mind, here is a roundup of the many changes it has introduced this year.

Homepage Redesign

LinkedIn has clearly focused on simplifying the overall layout with its latest redesign. However, there's not a lot of change. If you were to compare it to a trip to the barbers or hairdressers, you would say that LinkedIn asked for trim and a bit of a tidy-up as opposed to a sweeping change in style involving asymmetry and liberal use of hair dye.

The changes are minor and really serve to make personal profiles less clunky and easier on the eye. Information such as your current employment, previous employment and your education is now is now featured in the top-lining box along with your name, headline and profile picture. None of the finer details are listed, but are revealed once you roll your mouse over an individual item.

This is the most noticeable change apparent to the naked eye, and it does make the page more compact and easier to manage. LinkedIn has embraced some semblance of interactivity so that personal profiles are no longer glorified online CVs. As a result, your personal summary is now far more prominent, and you can still see all your work and education experience, as it is featured just below the summary segment.

LinkedIn has clearly made the effort to emphasise that it's a social network, despite its professional reputation. Recent activity and posts are now easily visible in the right-hand margin, and there is a large tab in the top box which allows you to ask users for recommendations or even export their entire profile to pdf.

All in all, not a lot has changed, and the differences may not have even been noticeable to some LinkedIn users, but they have been made with ease-of-use and greater connectivity between users in mind.

Company Page Redesign

As the site's design evolves, highlighted by both the main site and LinkedIn Today, it was only a matter of time before company pages got the same treatment. Earlier this month, the first batch of new company pages were rolled out for all to see, the first ones being Dell, American Express, and HP.

From first glance, it looks like that it copied Facebook and Twitter by slapping on their own cover photo, but look beyond that and you'll see that the entire page has been reformatted to highlight milestones and connections.

The first thing you would notice, after noticing the improved aesthetics, are the connections located on the left-hand side. The idea would be that you're more likely to follow a company with people you know and more importantly, you will be able to see which members you have the closest links to (either directly or by mutual connections).

The second thing you may notice is the lack of an about box at the top. Instead it has been moved to the bottom of the page so company update can be given more prominence. This works better for LinkedIn members who may be looking for career opportunities or company news.

What has gotten an even greater change is the career section for company pages. For certain companies like American Express and Expedia, you can see the difference with cover photos, connections, job opportunities and recommendations all neatly formatted together. Overall, everything is easier to find which is handy when you're browsing through company profiles.

LinkedIn has only started rolling these out a few days ago so it's still a case that most company pages haven't gotten it yet. For those who do have access to it, you can change it by going to the admin button on the right-hand side and clicking upgrade page. All company pages will have the option to change until November where it will become mandatory.

Targeted Updates

Perhaps something that was more important for LinkedIn company pages was the introduction of targeted status updates during the summer. Originally announced back in April, it took a while for the feature to all its users, but because of it, brands were now able to target followers based on specific criteria such as industry, job function, company size, seniority, non-company employees and geography. For those brands which have a large following, this was a helpful addition.

LinkedIn Today

Just over a year ago, LinkedIn launched this tool that brings you the best news from your professional network, giving you a reason to return to the site. It is essentially a business focused news portal that is automatically curated for you through the content that your network is sharing and commenting on. This has become especially important since Twitter pulled its fire hose of tweets that were being automatically pushed into the service.

The content did dry up, but LinkedIn Co-founder Reid Hoffman said recently that it was actually a good thing because the quality of content has improved. I do find the content to be a little repetitive every day and to focus on mainstream news stories, but that is probably because I consume huge amounts of media to find content for the blog here. This is really designed for the business executive to read while on the go without having to curate all their own news.

The fact that LinkedIn today is optimised to mobile and tablet devices makes it the newspaper of the modern executive. The key is to make it even better by playing with your settings on this page

and following the companies and news sources that are relevant to you.

New Plugin Buttons

The Endorsement Button 

LinkedIn has always been quick to copy what works for Facebook and yesterday it launched a new feature called the "Endorsement button." For all intents and purposes, this is the Facebook 'like' button, but what makes it so much more powerful is that it's for professionals and the fact that having endorsements from your peers is just about the best way to make yourself look better in a professional sense. The following presentation shows how it works:

The only worry that we have about this new feature is that we could see people starting to try and game the system or solicit clicks from people in their network in the same way people campaign for awards by spamming all their contacts. The fact that you can see exactly who has endorsed you is also a powerful marketing tool for LinkedIn as this is the sort of feature that is going to rely on peer pressure to get people liking each other.

If it is used correctly, it could be very powerful. Say I had a bunch of endorsements from powerful people, CEOS and thought leaders, then there is a very good chance I am going to get hired or win a new client. In some ways, it is a shorter version of the small recommendations that people used to write on people's profiles, but the simple action of liking was incredibly powerful on Facebook and we could see the same happening with this new button.

Follow Company Button

Maybe its potential isn't as far-reaching as the endorsement button, but LinkedIn's follow company button was an important inclusion back in February. The reason this addition was important was because if you wanted to follow a company on the site, the only way you could do it was to actively search for them. Since not every person would want to do that, it meant a lost opportunity for companies wanting to get extra members. The follow button reduced the number of steps needed to follow and gave company pages a far greater chance of being followed as it would appear on their website.

Mobile Apps

One of the major advantages that LinkedIn had over its other social media rivals was that its mobile apps are quite good and to the point. It was (and still is) one of the best designed apps for a social media site (even after Facebook and Twitter's update) and is a great example of while the mobile experience is different than the desktop version.

While other sites just put a scaled down version of their site on their app, LinkedIn made sure that all its features like profiles, LinkedIn Today and company pages were just one tap away for users. What's perhaps amazing about its app is that it only one screen in the entire LinkedIn app is actually native

(5% to be exact). HTML was the very problem that led to Facebook's slow app speeds before its upgrade which changed it to a native app so for LinkedIn to focus on this was a very smart move. This combined with LinkedIn Today, which is perfect for tablet users, makes the app very attractive for mobile users.