LinkedIn has been working on the user interface to make it consistent, clean and very image lead for some time, with previous updates to profiles complete it was now the turn of messaging.
They have been rolling it out for some months, seemingly starting with the lightweight users and accounts first. We are now seeing it becoming more and more prevalent – if you haven’t got it yet you will. We recently spent a good chunk of time having a play and here’s our views.
LinkedIn themselves said they “took a look at some existing features to see how they are being used by our members to provide a new and improved messaging experience” but interestingly user experience we have heard in courses has been marginally more negative than positive, possibly down to familiarity changes but here’s our views.
The new threaded view
Messages are now tied to a user picture on the right, which is great if you only message a person a couple of times but if you correspond a lot, such as to one of your team or an assistant it makes the interface really muddled so a balance of good and bad depending on your use. Image courtesy of LinkedIn help …
When you look at a discussion in the threaded view the blue boxes aligned right are messages you have sent and the grey messages aligned to the left are the ones you have received – why they didn’t put a heading on the top of the page we have no idea but we did suggest it in the feedback we sent in.
You can forward messages to people, but the interface is not intuitive, you need to select the person, then the thread and then select forward from the small top right menu and then pick off the message you want to send – phew! Many more steps than the older version.
Inbox / Message management
The folder based approach of old has gone, now taking a more all in one unified type approach unlike the traditional email clients (such as Outlook and more) and much more like Facebook.
This is an unfamiliar view which will take some time to adjust to we think but you do have filters to see unread, messages from connections, InMail and blocked as a filter to reduce the clutter.
The search remains so that you can hunt through all messages new and old (but not deleted) to locate that message you missed or want again in future.
The bad news is that you cannot delete individual messages but have to delete the conversation, so no more cleaning up the historic threads, you have to keep them all or none.
We found that by using the unread flag, clicking on the small dot on the right, it enabled us to keep some semblance of order.
Instead of the familiar sent item folder view we are all used to in tools like Outlook LinkedIn has adopted a reverse timeline archive – a combined inbox, sent, unread etcetera in one big chronological list.
It is very busy and has already started to push James away from the inbox as a natural aggregator back to email instead, mainly due to the (in his words) “messy” view.
When you look at a thread sent messages are flagged up more prominently with a blue background but it doesn’t really help.
Again we suspect this will come down to how many messages you get impacting your experience.
The really useful option to archive the messages into a folder that you can review has been killed off, so now it is a case of remembering who or some aspect of the message to search for within the messaging client to find those messages (and remembering to not delete them!)
Emojis / Stickers
I cannot repeat what James said when he saw these – surely on the professional platform that LinkedIn is (perhaps we are wrong?) there is no need for mini clips (or Stickers as LinkedIn calls them) such as the ones below? Now we have nothing against a cute penguin in the zoo, but on LinkedIn with a hat and bag?
It is worth noting that all stickers / emojis feature cult figures in the US and a few from the wider world so be cautious about using one without thought to ensure the spelling or humour works in your location, country or with your connections.
Of course there are cute animals, animated clips and even coffee ones but somehow it just doesn’t feel right to use them to us, it feels more Facebook than LinkedIn.
Finally we get some new options, some good such as attachments, better forward control but some less good such as stickers / emojis and the dreaded enter to send.
Enter to send
This has to be the most painful piece for us! If you are not careful a press of the enter key sends the message or pops up the dialogue box to ask if you want to send – um no I want to enter and move down (grr).
Even when you deselect this, next time around it is selected by default, come on LinkedIn this is a pain – more feedback sent to LinkedIn.
Has now moved into the People you may know section – but that’s for another day.
Interestingly the feature we have missed the most is the ability to reply directly from the top menu as this has now been removed. To reply or interact with any message you have to select the messaging / inbox and then you can action it from inside – an extra step we never had before.
We love the new visual interface but are not so keen on some of the other changes that have made. It is less efficient but let’s see how we all get along.
What do you think of it? We’d be interested in your comments.
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