We have been very fortunate to be able to meet each other as a result of LinkedIn and our group, PFMI. I personally thank LinkedIn for the wonderful job it has done with their website to date. I am writing this post as there is a chance things may “CHANGE”.
That is such a dirty word and nobody wants to hear of that!! CHANGE that hurts the group closeness is my only concern. With that being said, I am concerned that we may lose touch with our group members if what I am hearing is true. This is a plea to all of our PFMI members to please add your contact information to our PFMI beta Directory now. Why? Because if LinkedIn changes their entire system, we will all lose touch with each other! Simple, add your name so we can keep in touch should LinkedIn really change and push some of us away. Here is my reason for writing this and please comment if you have other information. Why?…….
Many LinkedIn Groups have had CHANGES made to their UI (User Interface) that have negatively impacted their connection to their group members and their discussions. The changes will just suddenly appear for PFMI one day and we will not know when it will happen! There is no warning. It can happen today or maybe not happen at all.
The CHANGES make the LinkedIn, we all know and love today, a different product all together. Discussions and News are now combined. The issue is that it combines the personal content from each of us with the RSS Feed articles and hyperlinks. To me it is like oil and water as far as what you see. The RSS Feeds are basically all of the News related to our industry flowing into what we all have perceived as powerful personal communication, or a safe harbor from that exact content. Our PFMI content is solid, personal, real words written by all of us. It is not hyperlinks to blogs and outside websites or media content site feeds. When the change happens we can test things and try to eliminate all News feeds if need be.
Yes, we do like to see News as well, but on our own terms. Right now it feels like we are being tricked a little bit by the RSS Feeds, which look like Discussion Posts. That is the total opposite of what LinkedIn really is. LinkedIn is a direct connect to each other. Clean and clear of clutter and sound bites. In fact, the most aggravating part of LinkedIn has always been the spam, ironically. It was like an angry crowd throwing tomatoes at you when you would try to clutter up discussions. Group managers went to painstaking lengths to fight off the clutter and sound bites or hyperlinks. Now it has literally been mixed in with our precious conversations and valuable knowledge sharing. Real-life people and content is mixed in with Business Week, Feedburner, et al.
It is akin to a bowl of mixed nuts. There are those nuts you just want a big bowl of, but you leave the peanuts behind as all you want are pistachios and cashews. Yes, there are times you will eat a peanut, but you just want a bowl of cashews! To me LinkedIn was a bowl of cashews and now it is trying to be a bowl of mixed nuts.
The other change is that when you go to enter a discussion, it gives you the same 2 box Discussion area, plus a hyperlink area and a “Twitter” share button which lets you simultaneously blast your title of your Discussion through Twitter. Some of us use Twitter, yes, but not all of us!! I have heard that LinkedIn and Twitter may be doing a joint venture on this or maybe the two companies are now owned by the same people now, hence the push for Twitter in more components of LinkedIn. That is a huge change for many of us, but one you do not mind.
I have the new UI in one of my other groups now. There is definitely a new feel and look that is not as easy on the eyes nor is it as enjoyable to visit. Also, since many of us are time strapped business people, we just do not have enough time to try to maneuver through the difference between our awesome content and the RSS feeds. Today there is currently a nice and tranquil calm to LinkedIn. It is slow and easy on the eyes and the list format of the discussion is easy to follow and does not have that frenetic feel. The new UI is like an MSN browser page but less user-friendly and the current LinkedIn is like the Google Search page, clean and easy to navigate.
The Search capability of the Discussions has changed or they have deleted our old content. For now, I am not sure what has happened with our old Discussions. For instance, if you are in the “air filter” business or the “LED lighting” business you currently can search those keywords to see the discussions that appeal to you, etc.
For instance, I know for a fact that Mack Barnhardt has been active in my RoofTop Gardening Group and I thought he had discussed roof vents, air filters and odors in the group. When I search that, I get nothing. All of Mack’s awesome discussions are gone. Now this is new to me, so I may be wrong.
The discussion lists are mainly the RSS feeds from our News Feed and not just Discussions as we were accustomed to. When you click on a Discussion it can take you out of LinkedIn. It can be slow at times, as it opens a new window which may be confusing for many people. Many people feel like they know they are inside LinkedIn, but now you may not know you are leaving LinkedIn when you click on a Discussion. That is a direct result of combining the News Feeds with the Discussions. I am hopeful that will be phased out.
I think the “human condition” appeal of the current LinkedIn is the high tech/high touch feel that you get by having personal written word communication with rock solid, credible content and less graphics and distractions. Your eye keeps you on the words. With the new LinkedIn UI it is a bit distracting as there are a series of boxes for every single Discussion and you change pages quite frequently. Again, that may also change as this is a beta test, we hope. With the current LinkedIn UI, you feel close to those you are communicating with and there is an intimacy and feeling that nothing is between you and those conversations or sources of content. They are honest and real.
Many of all of our discussions are meaty and have great content as they are like mini-blogs from people. Now the new feel is shorter bursts and boxes, like a Twitter/Facebook hybrid. I can see what they want to do, but it needs more work. It is just too much real estate for one single Discussion.
Because each Discussion takes up too much real estate (no pun intended) you get anxious and want to move on and out. There is just too much face to each Discussion, ie. tons of redundant pictures of everyone. The Discussion is broken up in 3 sections. Title, Shortened content, extract of shortened content, more pictures, Facebook/Twitter menu bar, large menu box with your face on it (not needed) and less white space overall, per each Discussion! The current LinkedIn does not show the pictures as much and surround each Discussion with pictures. The current pictures are off to the side and not in the middle of the content, which is distracting. Most people do not want to see their face that much!
As a group owner, the last thing you want to see is your picture a million times. You want to see content from the members! When you comment it should just be a button not another picture of your face reminding yourself how hard you work to keep your conversations going (smaller groups).
If they just go back to Start a Discussion and not bring up “Your Face” and a box, remove the carousel thing or make it optional, remove the News and Discussion combination concept, remove the 3rd “excerpt” box, remove all of the pictures of those who responded under each Discussion, remove the extra set of boxes under the Discussion comment list which again, shows “Your Face”, maybe that will be a new and improved LinkedIn.
I am writing this insanely long piece as a plea to all of you to add your contact information to our PFMI beta Directory. I am doing it here because once they switch our group over to the “New LinkedIn” I am afraid we may lose touch or connection with each other. If that is ok, with you, great, please do it now. I guess I feel so many of you are like friends now and I personally would like to keep in touch, even if LinkedIn changes.
If time permits, please list your information at PFMI beta Directory so we can regroup and follow each other after LinkedIn changes. I really want you to give me your honest feedback after LinkedIn changes so I know how you really feel about it. I am hoping I am wrong here and that you all love the new look and feel and will continue to keep in touch. We all really love the LinkedIn we are using now and I am hoping and praying that by my long post here and other feedback, that LinkedIn may give PFMI a reprieve and not upgrade our group yet. It may be possible for LinkedIn to give us an optional UI format per group. In other words, have a high tech group and a low tech group, for instance. So many of our users have been pressured into using LinkedIn in the first place, we do not want to scare them away. Many are other business generations that do not take kindly to portals like LinkedIn. If you throw this new UI at them, I am afraid they will tire of it quickly and do an “I told you so” and bail out. If that occurs LinkedIn may just be another website or portal that had its day in the sun, but has gone by way of the Netscapes of the world.