Caroline Gaffney, product manager at LinkedIn, was recently quoted in Design Week as saying, "We’ve started to roll out a simpler and easier way to navigate the homepage that offers quick access to the relevant information and updates that help you be great at your job.” I’d like to know to whose job she is referring to.
I’ve approached LinkedIn from multiple points of view over the years—as a comfortably ensconced staffer, as an unemployed job seeker, as a dedicated freelancer and back to an agency staffer again—and I’ve found value in the connections and insights it has afforded.
What I’ve liked most about LinkedIn is its ability to connect me to profiles and moderated discussions—and others to my profile—based on experience and expertise, not on what crossed someone’s mind in the last few hours. LinkedIn’s value to me has come from its access to the established and the thoughtful—not to the trending, the loud or the paid-for. It is what it has not been—a replication of Facebook, Google, or Twitter for working folk—that made it unique and kept me checking in.
The new LinkedIn homepage has given the majority of its real estate to out-of-context updates, news headlines “for You” and advertisements. We all understand the shifting imperatives of well-established sites and the need to show real revenue to their long-suffering backers—and it’s not as if there wasn’t room for usability improvements. But I would have much preferred greater emphasis on group posts and profile changes, and a faceted profile search.
But alas, with the new layout, LinkedIn is becoming more like its mind-fart-tracking, ad-delivering cousins by emphasizing the content that is most annoying and least relevant. The new homepage may be helping someone do a better job, but not me.