Back in September, LinkedIn gave us a first glimpse of their coming desktop refresh. which, as per LinkedIn, will deliver "a world class, elegant and sophisticated user experience".
Can it live up to that billing?
Well we're about to find out - today, LinkedIn has announced that the new desktop version is now in the process of being rolled out to all users.
The video soundtrack feels overly bouncy for a LinkedIn update, but still, it gives you a good glimpse of the coming changes.
There are several important details to note, first off, the new layout gives each element of the LinkedIn experience a defined space on screen, making it easier to use and more intuitive.
Here's shot of the old a new formats side-by-side for comparison.
The new update prompt is similar to Facebook, while you also have a 'Trending News' section in the top right, again similar to The Social Network. That's not such a bad approach - Facebook has more than a billion people logging onto it every day, so it'll definitely add a level of familiarity. LinkedIn's also streamlining the news feed by breaking out elements like 'Who to follow' recommendations into the side bar, rather than pushing them into the stream.
LinkedIn's also putting more emphasis on messaging in the new desktop experience, with new pop-up chat windows which enables you to send messages without having the leave the page you're on and go to a separate area of the app.
The updated LinkedIn messaging experience will also incorporate their new 'Conversation Starters' feature, which prompts users on things they have in common that they could use to break the ice.
The focus on messaging is being driven by user demand - LinkedIn recently noted that they've seen a 240% increase in messages sent on the platform since the introduction of their re-vamped mobile app December 2015, with half of their active users now interacting with messages on a weekly basis.
In a wider sense, the improved performance of their mobile app has clearly inspired the new design, with the flow and structure more closely aligned with the mobile experience.
Hopefully, too, the new desktop version will also support hashtags - LinkedIn announced back in August that the mobile platform now supports hashtags, but they're still not active on LinkedIn.com, which leads to a somewhat disjointed experience.
Hashtags clickable on mobile (left), not so much on desktop (right)
UPDATE: The new desktop design does indeed support hashtags.
In addition, LinkedIn has also highlighted four other key areas of improvement for the new desktop experience:
- Richer Feed to keep you informed - With a combination of algorithms and human editors working together, we've fine tuned your Feed to surface the most relevant content from people and publishers you care most about. We'll also be adding new ways for you to dive deep into specific topics relevant to you and follow trending stories.
- More intuitive search - You now have one universal search box to easily find people, jobs, companies, groups and schools. You can refine your search by using filter options on the right hand side, with the ability to search posts coming soon. Also, we're investing further to better understand signals on what they searching for? Or who you are searching for so we can bring you the best results for any search query.
- Greater insight into who's viewing your content - You can now see who's reading and engaging with the content you share, including the company, job title and location of the people who are interested in your updates.
- Better suggestions to make your profile stand out - We've improved profile suggestions so you can more easily see what you need to do to look your best professionally, for example, suggested skills based on what recruiters are searching for.
The improved feed algorithm could be a consideration for marketers, as it will likely affect the way your content is distributed on the platform, while the improved profile suggestions comes as a result of recent work LinkedIn's engineering team has been conducting to improve the accuracy of their data graph, which could provide the platform with significant opportunity, particularly when combined with LinkedIn Learning.
By improving their data set, LinkedIn can better identify the most in-demand skills, then recommend their own courses to help candidates get ahead.
Interesting too that LinkedIn has highlighted search here, as the platform has recently removed some of their search functions - much to the dismay of power users.
As noted by TechCrunch, in December last year, LinkedIn quietly cut a number of search functions which had been available to Premium subscribers, including advanced filters like 'years of experience', 'function', 'seniority level', as well as the ability to search in Groups. You can still use these parameters, but you'll need to sign up to the more expensive Sales Navigator to do it.
Many have suggested that this is Microsoft's influence, that this will be the future of LinkedIn under Microsoft, driven by revenue above all, with functionality to increasingly be moved into paid elements. But the change to search was likely in place long before the Microsoft deal was confirmed, and both Microsoft and LinkedIn have repeatedly stated that LinkedIn will remain a separate identity for the foreseeable future, so hard to draw any definitive conclusions as yet.
Along the same lines, LinkedIn has just this week signed a new deal with Datasift to provide more data insight, and improved opportunities for marketers. And while that, again, is not necessarily a sign of increased revenue focus - working with third parties to improve on-platform opportunities makes perfect sense - it does underline that LinkedIn is actively seeking to improve the value of their data and network insights.
The new LinkedIn desktop version will be "rolling out to all members globally over the coming weeks".