Chris Baus

Linkedin's user experience

Last week I became duly annoyed with Linkedin. I couldn’t put my finger on the source of my angst at the time, but after reading a comment by Paul Graham regarding the user experience of question and answer site Quora, I realized I had the same issues with Linkedin.

Here’s what PG had to say:

I think Adam’s (CEO of Quora) mistake here is to go too much by the numbers. He presumably has numbers that show that Quora ends up net ahead if they force people to create accounts to read answers. He grew Facebook very effectively by following the numbers. But he may not realize how different this case is from Facebook’s. It may well be that for a site like Quora, at this stage in its life, users are not all equal. It may be a mistake to alienate the sort of people Quora has been alienating by doing this, even if they end up numerically ahead in the short term.

I’m one of them. Quora has now spent several years training me to be bummed out every time I click on a link to their site. Every time it happens, I dislike them more, and become more resistant to creating an account. I now think of it as a site for other people, who are willing to put up with the stuff they do. I’m pleased to find there are others like me.

I like Adam, but I wish he’d stop doing this.

Linkedin is more focused on getting users to do what they want them to do (provide data on themselves to the service), then the experience users are having on the site. When I login to Linkedin, I’m not provided with content I care about, instead I am given a call to action to update my profile, “grow my professional network”, or provide endorsements for contacts I barely know. I’m sure their conversion numbers show how great this works, but over the longer term they risk alienating the users they need to create the content that is ultimately value of the entire site.