LinkedIn has become something of a target recently. First, there was that security breach in which passwords were hacked – but luckily no user accounts were compromised and LinkedIn swiftly upgraded its safety practices. Crisis averted. Then rumors about something a Facebook jobs board probably raised a few eyebrows over at LinkedIn HQ; although reports downplay the upcoming product as a very light application. Still, competition from Facebook is always worth worrying about.
But then Twitter went ahead and dealt a serious blow by pulling integration from the professional networking site. In an effort to create a “consistent Twitter experience,” the microblogging platform is tightening up its control over how users interact with it – to be blunt, it’s cutting ties with smaller sites that it doesn’t need business from. Facebook is a big name with more users that benefits Twitter; LinkedIn, however, is small change in Twitter’s eye, so the site can kiss its imported Twitter feed goodbye.
On top of all this, a variety of new career-minded applications have surfaced challenging LinkedIn’s functionality. There’s no use arguing the site isn’t still the top resource for job hunting and hunters – but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hold on to that status.
Basically, times have been better. But it looks like LinkedIn won’t sit idly by and watch itself become obsolete, because an overhaul is in the works. As first reported by TechCrunch, the site is planning a thorough redesign, updating its interface as well as giving social elements more spotlight — you can see an alleged rendition of what this makeover will look like below against a backdrop of the current Website.
Last month, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner talked to Fortune about the state of the Website, saying that the application’s mobile success would drive how it evolved its Web app. “One of the key takeaways was the simpler we can make our products, the more intuitive we can make our products, similar to what the team did in mobile, the more value we can unlock,” Weiner said.
“And so this year you’re going to see us simplify a number of our pillar products on the Web. So, areas like the homepage, search results, the profile experience would be examples of that.”
LinkedIn’s mobile apps certainly have a more steamlined, sleeker look than via Web. They’re far more engaging, more interesting to look at, and while the alleged screenshots of what the new LinkedIn might look like aren’t identical, their definitely closer to it than the current Web product.
The bigger issue for LinkedIn isn’t a better looking site though — it’s keeping eyes there on its own accord. It doesn’t have Twitter or Facebook feeds to pull in, so there needs to be better social interaction and discovery elements in order to motivate people to login, participate, and create content. I don’t know about you, but unless I’m in the midst of the job hunt or looking for sources, using LinkedIn is a sign in, glance over, sign out process. I’ll occasionally share articles to the site, but not terribly often. And as far as interacting via LinkedIn, participation is minimal: if I use it to find a source, I’ll usually try contacting them by other means first.
LinkedIn could definitely stand to drive conversation and actual networking more, but there are also a few utilitarian features that would improve its usefulness. A tracking tool that charts your job hunting process would be great, as would better prediction algorithms about what companies and career opportunities I might want to check out.
This sounds like a lot of work on LinkedIn’s part, but really it’s just about evolving the product. The foundation for a working professional social network were laid a long time ago by LinkedIn, but clearly it’s time to answer the “what’s next?” question.