When Linkedin was launched in 2003, They had just little over 20 people working for them, but by the end of 2010 they grew to a staggering 1000 employees in 10 countries and boasting 90,000 users. The very next year, they hosted the President of the United States and got listed on the NYSE. On June 2016, Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn valued $26.2 billion dollars, sent shockwaves across the world.
LinkedIn recently underwent a major User Interface Design revamp of its desktop site which according to them, was done from scratch.
“Largest LinkedIn.com redesign since the company’s inception.”
From the language of it, we were all expecting groundbreaking, revolutionary design and features from the makers of the “Modern UI”.
And then, we got crushed. Microsoft and LinkedIn combined are supposed to be much, much bigger than Facebook. Then, Why on Earth would they want to copy so many design elements from their rival? Let’s compare the similarities between LinkedIn’s UI and Facebook’s.
1. Home Feed
What strikes me first is the “Main feed” (aka Facebook’s Wall), the page you start off with after logging in. LinkedIn’s new design encourages it’s users to post or share a content by having a similar, more prominent box as Facebook. Their upgraded “news feed” algorithm displays more relevant information. You can easily unfollow and hide posts which don't interest you. It is not bad that they did this, what is bad is the way they stole the design format straight from Facebook without any alterations.
If you notice the screenshot below, the similarities are striking. They managed to copy the entire design layout, information hierarchy, the shape of the profile pic, how last received messages shown of the list, compose message icon being exactly in the same place, and even the way the message text is highlighted. Thank God at least they changed the colour of the highlight to match their brand’s.
3. People You May Know
LinkedIn’s previous “People You May Know” was horrendous, I'm really glad they managed to improve on it and now display it as a list. I can still recall how we had to endlessly shift through the large pictures of random smiling people, looking for that one person I actually want to connect with. Sadly though, the design thought process here doesn’t scream “ground up” at all. It is just a carbon (or design) copy of the Facebook’s very own “people you may know” section.
4. Progress Indicators
We all wanted to see something happening after the click or enter button being pressed. The content outline would load before the actual content, giving us a rough idea what to expect, and most importantly making the user wait until the content loads. Copying this feature directly from Facebook and other places has made them appear like a replicator not innovator.
LinkedIn’s redesign was much anticipated. The design community were excited to find out what amazing ideas LinkedIn had come up with, or what kind of new groundbreaking stuff we were going to see. But in the end, all we got was essentially a Facebook version 2.0.
I love Linkedin and believe in their product, to the extent that almost every business opportunity that comes my way is via Linkedin and have been a loyal, paying customer of for a decade but it seriously feels this change was not about putting users first and content at the forefront but instead highlighting Linkedin's other revenue generating products.
When I saw the Microsoft acquisition of Linkedin, my gut instinct was that this means the product will become purely a business unit and lose the magic of what made it what it grow. It seems that may well be the case, but I hope it is not!
I totally understand that LinkedIn didn’t want to risk coming up with something unique or radical with its precarious situation on the market. What I don’t understand is why would they mislead us into thinking they are designing something awesome when it is just another “Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v” job? My review in terms of design? One word: Disappointed!
If you would like to connect with me on "the new look" Linkedin.....