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posted: 4/16/2017 1:00 AM

Tempest over LinkedIn changes easing

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Change rarely is easy. Ask the 130 million or so LinkedIn members in the U.S.

Yet while the initial reactions to LI's new UI (user interface or, for the less techie, page layout and route to support) seemed uniformly negative, the LinkedIn world apparently is settling a bit -- although users have some adapting to do. That's especially true for occasional users who may have looked at the new UI, blanched and quickly clicked to some other site.

"A lot of people have been confused about the UI," says Buffalo Grove LinkedIn specialist Michael Yublosky. "You need some different skill sets."

One of those skill sets apparently involves websites.

Yublosky lists "three major changes" LinkedIn made that have most bothered LI users:

• The new UI is intended to facilitate mobile usage, a smart move. Mobiles -- tablets and especially phones -- tend to be today's connection to the digital world.

• LI is trying to simplify site navigation, partly to make it easier for members to get to the LI help forum.

• LI also "took some things away," Yublosky says, noting that the advanced search and "many of the good filters" are gone from the free membership. New owner Microsoft spent more than $26 billion to purchase LinkedIn last summer and, Yublosky says, "is looking to make LinkedIn a profit center."

Yublosky lists a fourth issue, too: Only the first two lines of a member's summary statement now shows on the user profile -- your explanation to the LI world of who you are and what you do. That small section of text typically will need to be rewritten in a way that encourages profile readers to read more.

"We've had to get used to change before," Yublosky notes, recalling that the transition from DOS to Windows was stressful. (DOS, if you're too young to remember, is the acronym for the disk operating system that supported most personal computers until Microsoft's Windows system appeared in the mid-1990s.)

LinkedIn's new user interface isn't that dramatic a change. Besides, Yublosky's view of the small business world extends to branding issues.

LinkedIn was born as a jobs-and-people connector, but Yublosky believes the site can be used effectively for small business marketing. Although his primary role these days is to help members adapt to the new LI, Yublosky voices concern about Clutch.co's 2017 Small Business Survey on Web Design. (Clutch.co is a Washington, D.C. research firm that seeks to match software and professional services firms with businesses.)

Surprisingly, and to Yublosky somewhat worryingly, the 2017 data say that 29 percent of small businesses do not have a website; in the survey's 13-state Midwest region, 42 percent don't have a website.

Websites are important because people -- particularly prospective customers -- visit them to check out a business' capabilities. Not only does the website need to exist, but, Yublosky says, the website and your newly rewritten LI profile should correlate. That's basic branding.

• © 2017 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Jim@kendallcom.com. Listen to Jim's Business Owners' Pod Talk at www.kendallcom.com/podcast.