This week LinkedIn launched a complete redesign of its website. Though probably several years overdue, the redesign is the first bold step the platform has taken since its acquisition by Microsoft.
Overall, the changes fixed some major problems with LinkedIn. Gone is the massive clutter that plagued LinkedIn for years and made it very user-unfriendly, replaced by a much cleaner interface that emphasizes “messaging, jobs, notifications, your profile, your network, and search.”
This means that LinkedIn’s email-like messaging services is also gone, replaced by a modern-looking chat interface that looks a lot like Facebook Messenger.
This focus accomplishes two key things for LinkedIn. One, it places the focus back on the social networking component that made the platform successful. The original core transaction of connecting with other users is now much less confusing. And the chat is also now real time.
The second thing the redesign accomplishes is that it clears the way for LinkedIn to become the content platform it’s been trying to become for the last few years.
The new design makes it much easier to find content on LinkedIn’s feed. The old feed was cluttered with ads and notifications that made it impossible to follow. Now the focus is on content, with a sidebar for trending content much like Facebook’s News Feed.
Further changes are likely to come as the platform begins to integrate more with Microsoft’s own services, but this move was necessary for LinkedIn to continue to grow.
It’s the only major social network or messaging app that doesn’t have a true, daily use case. Making messaging easy likely clears the way for LinkedIn to become more of a workplace collaboration tool, an area in which Microsoft has already shown interest. And the renewed focus on content gives LinkedIn a chance to finally give users a reason to come back regularly.
However, it may be too late for LinkedIn to change its status as very niche social network that sees only occasional use – mostly by recruiters and other power users that spam people for leads. It still has a long way to go to bring users back again and again.
Still, this was the first major redesign for LinkedIn since it launched. That the company is starting to change is a good sign for its future. Some progress is better than none at all.