LinkedIn Looks to the Community for Improvement

    December 4, 2008
    Chris Crum

LinkedIn has been making efforts to improve its users’ search experience. Recently, Senior Product Manager Esteban Kozak walked us through a number of new changes they made in this post as well as the following video.

Sarah Culberson, the Principal Interaction Designer at Linkedin (who also has experience in interaction design at eBay) has now come out and talked a bit about how they arrived at some of the decisions they made with their search interface. And guess what. It involved listening to the community:

Prior to launch, we conducted a rigorous research and design process in order to identify customer pain points and potential opportunities for improvement. We gathered feedback from a variety of sources and at different touch points, ranging from site feedback to analyzing site data to see what users were searching for on LinkedIn.

Most importantly, we talked to different types of our users: both in individual think-aloud studies and in group forums, continually iterating based on their feedback.

Listening to the community when implementing any site design or functionality changes may seem like an obvious way to approach the matter, but it’s not always the way it is done. Often times, new features are forced upon communities, and as a result, negative feedback spirals out of control. See Google’s recent iGoogle changes.

Culberson says LinkedIn’s new search interface includes:

– Simpler and more flexible layout
– More efficient search results
– and a more enjoyable experience

Of course these qualities are in the eye of the beholder, as critics will no doubt confirm, but still, they are calling for feedback and suggestions. They are clearly open to these, and may actually act upon them. LinkedIn knows its not perfect, but continues to strive for improvement. Perhaps this is one reason that it is often cited as the network of choice for business professionals.