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LinkedIn

Making Networking More Engaging

 

Overview

LinkedIn has been at the forefront of online professional networking. Despite rolling out features such as a home feed where people can share and comment on articles, the ability to join groups, or to create a blog space, LinkedIn is still facing a problem.

Problem

Currently, a lot of networking happens outside of the app, and LinkedIn wants the mobile app to be a one-stop destination for contact management and networking.

Solution

New features integrated into the LinkedIn mobile app allows users to engage more with their LinkedIn connections. This creates a more natural and professional relationship.

My Team: Niva LaRue, Crystal Zeng, Christian Cleveland

My Role: Researcher, Interaction Designer, Content Strategist

Duration: 2 Weeks

Target Device: iOS

Tools: Sketch, InVision


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DISCOVERY & LEARNING

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Pain Points

Networking is not an everyday type of interaction leading it to feeling awkward and forced

Seems like a one-way transaction rather than a give and take

PAUSE

At this point of our project, our team ran into the "I Have So Many Solutions" challenge.

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We realized we didn't define the problem. We just knew networking was awkward, people didn't like doing it because it didn't feel natural. We further probed:

What would make a professional networking site less awkward to use?

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EVEN MORE USER RESEARCH!

What would make a professional networking site less awkward to use?

How did people keep in touch with their past coworkers in general and what kept the connection from fading away?

Key Takeaway - Shared experiences create a relationship. When a relationship is created, the interaction becomes more natural and less one-sided.

 
 

Journey Map

This journey map represents Christina's process in trying to use the LinkedIn app to network but realizing she has only a few options. 

 

Competitive Analysis

Based on research we examined other platforms' key features that were commonly used for people to gain face to face interaction

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User Flows

With the new implemented features, Christina has two opportunities to network with her LinkedIn connections, shown below.

 

IDEATE & ITERATE

Whiteboarding!

Based on the user flow above, we were able to create the initial layout. Once our team agreed on the design layout we transferred this into a paper prototype to test out.

Paper Prototyping!

We performed several usability tests with paper prototypes to see if users could find the new functions and complete the the following tasks:

  1. View a connection's profile and describe aloud how they felt
  2. Requesting a meetup with said connection
  3. Finding an event to go to and invite said connection to come with them

No one could find the event page! Why? We used an unlabeled map icon and no one understood it.

I changed the icon to a calendar because other established services such as Facebook and Meetup uses a calendar to indicate events. We also labeled it because: 

  1. It is best practice per Nielson Norman Group research.
  2. LinkedIn's other features had labeled icons.
 
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Mid-Fidelity Wireframes!

After fixing the previous problem, we upped the fidelity and did a second round of usability tests. 

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  • Users did not understand the meaning of the relationship label of “moderate” in their shared timeline with their connection.
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  • Users were not sure if the requests for a meetup or event invitation would get lost in their direct messages.

KEY SCREENS

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Homescreen

The events icon is placed prominently on the landing page without replacing any of the established navigation choices.

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Events Map

Christina can see professional events happening nearby based on current location. She can filter events based on interest and date.

 
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Events Page

The event page will show Christina event details, how many people are going and WHICH of her connections are going,

This reveals a chance for Christina to catch up with her connection.

Otherwise, she can RSVP to the event as well as invite someone.

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Invite Page

For Christina, inviting someone is an opportunity for networking by being able to share an event.

This decreases the feeling of a one-way relationship.

 
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Profile Page - Shared Timeline

A shared timeline shows a history of Christina and her connection’s professional relationship.

It displays the last time she and John interacted, and suggestions on how to reconnect with him.

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Meet Up Page

There is another way Christina can engage with her connection.

She can request a meetup easily by choosing the place, date, time, and what type of meetup.

This offers a chance for Christina to get in touch with her connection on a more personal level.

 
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My Network Page

With event invitations and meetup requests, it’s important Christina to keep track of these requests in one place: My Network.

Plus, “People You Should Reconnect With” is a new section in "My Network." 

It is curated on a daily basis to remind Christina to keep in touch with her connections.

More than just small talk

For someone like Christina, sending a direct message or liking an article was not a meaningful way to network.

It was imperative not to create something intrusive. Instead, create a more encouraging space and give options to Christina.

Should LinkedIn integrate these options, they would increase mobile app usage by at least ten percent with their target users.

Next Steps

  • Allow users to search for events that are not happening locally
  • Develop further how LinkedIn will upload its events

WHAT I LEARNED

Saying VS Doing

During this project it was not surprising when people said they did not like to network. What was surprising was when we discovered people networked all the time without realizing they were doing it. 

Volunteering together. Going to a concert together. Discussing movie theory conspiracies together.

Networking is more well received when it is perceived as forming a relationship rather than trying to get something out of someone. One of the most exciting parts of design is discovering what people do contrasts to what they say they do. It's like finding hidden treasure that brings you one step closer to what the problem really is.

 
 

Onto to the next case study!