The Challenge : Public & Private
The public area POSTS are the same as the private Group DISCUSSIONS. Except that they employ much nicer publishing tools. Aaaaaand…. The POSTS are available to anyone on Linked In, whereas the GROUP DISCUSSIONS are generally available only to GROUP members.
I’m a UX Guy, so I often want to share my thoughts with my colleagues in the UX Practice.
Private: Group DISCUSSION
Editorial Tools : Post vs Discussion
POST = DISCUSSION These editorial tools for Public POSTS should also be available for Private (GROUP) DISCUSSIONS. Because they’re the same.
In fact; there are a whole slew of common-sense tools that should exist in order to make the sharing and collaboration process among professionals gracious and efficient. After all, that’s why we’re here, isn’t it?
I recently posted this as a question on the LinkedIn Help Forum:
Why different terms for POST and DISCUSSION?
They are functionally the same. They simply apply to different audiences :
- POST = public forum
- DISCUSSION = group (private) forum
These are generic terms which are often used interchangeably in conversation – even though they are different. (i.e. I can post a discussion. I can also post a comment….) It’s confusing. LinkedIn also presents two totally different editorial interfaces for each. Why?
Why different platforms for POST and DISCUSSION?
Response from LinkedIn:
Group discussion items and “Status Updates” are posted in completely different parts of the LinkedIn website, and different parts of the LinkedIn website are controlled by different programs with some of the programs being third-party software.
This response is tech-centric rather than user-centric – and misses the point. Most modern services are based on technology from multiple sources. The fact that there are inconsistencies “under the hood” is no excuse for a confusing customer-facing interface.
It’s one of the reasons why UX became not just a nice add-on, but a necessity.
Please fix the UI inconsistencies across our discussion tools.
Terminology: A Discussion is …. a discussion on a Topic, which may contain Comments
Terminology: You Post (i.e. publish) a discussion topic in a Public arena (for all to see) or in a Group arena (for a self-selected audience)
The editorial tools for creating a Topic (Discussion) should be consistent across LinkedIn, whether in Public arena or Private arena.
An Improvement. Sort of.
LinkedIn has revamped the editorial tools you use to create a Public POST. Here’s a quick thumbnail analysis:
- The UI is oriented towards novice users rather than HTML geeks.
- The focus is on presentation styling – not tagging. You can attach links, but you cannot manage them.
The toolbar offers fewer text styling atttributes. HTML labels remain, but should explain themselves better to novice users. For example: The mouseover on text style H1displays a tooltip saying “H1”. Duh. “Largest Text” probably makes more sense.
“Blockquote” is a confusing artifact of old HTML. In practical terms, it is rarely used for an actual quotation or citation – It’s just used presentationally to indent a body of text. The LI version indents the blockquoted text, but also imposes a big stylistic “quotemark image” on the block and italicizes all of the text in it. Sure, it’s notunattractive – but it’s also largely irrelevant to the actual usage of the attribute. And it’s branded on the toolbar with a “quotemark image”. This may be meaningful to us geeks who know HTML-blockquote, but it must be confusing to people who don’t. LI’s quotemark and italic styling are nonstandard to the HTML blockquote.
- This attribute really means indent. Label it as “indent”.
- Remove the quotemark from the text on the page. (If LI wants to add a special branded text styling attribute that is designed specifically for inserting a quote, then do it right.)
- Don’t impose the italic styling on the blockquote text (Isn’t that why we have the Italic text attribute on the toolbar?)
Most of the text attributes can be layered. Except “blockquote”. LI makes blockquoted text italic – but you can’t un-italicize it.
Status hiccup: The styling attribute of selected text is not always echoed in the toolbar (specifically: italic).
LI’s new Insert/edit link UI is a substantial improvement.
Add video works for me. In fact:
(This video was created in mid-2012, so the images are a little dated.)
- You can now “cut & paste” images from one of your posts to another. Useful.
- The editorial tools emulate HTML (sort of) and use HTML labeling, but… LI’s editorial environment does not import real live HTML.
- However, you can export LI’s POST content to HTML. The HTML code itself is messy and verbose and largely unusable, but it does it.
Published in LinkedIn on November 4, 2014
The Sidebar : Your Posts
Displaying one-click access to all of Your Posts is a great improvement, but…
The only way I can display this useful list when I am viewing my POST is by choosing to Edit the post. I can then choose another post from the list, though LinkedIn then tells me that I will “lose my edits” when I leave the current page (even when I haven’t actually edited it…)
Anyhow – The point is that there is still no one-click access to “my Posts” when I’m viewing an individual post. Solution: Simplify it: Put a “My Posts” link at the top of the sidebar … and maybe even in the Profile dropdown of the global menubar (where it belongs).
In fact, the My Posts link (which should be globally available from the Profile dropdown on the menubar), should display links to all of my public Posts and my group Discussions because they are the same. Why not include access to all of my Comments, as well? This is an important set of highly related actions – at least from my perspective:
- Authoring Public Posts
- Authoring Group Discussions
- Commenting on existing Posts and Discussions
List my Posts
It presents my Drafts first, by default. Then, after that, it lists my POSTS in reverse chronological order. Inconsistent and – to me – not particularly useful. Besides, I may want to scan that list several different ways:
most Recently Created/edited is my preference (I actually re-edit some of my POSTS over time, so this is useful to me). by Date Created, by Viewership (most Views), and by Comments (number of) are also useful. These could be offered from a dropdown off the “Your Posts” heading.
Micrographics might indicate some of these performance qualities in the sidebar items (freshness, viewership, #comments, virality). A separate “dashboard” page for Key Performance Indicators & metrics would be nice, but I like having some of them available immediately.
Nice if LI identified the Drafts by some styling, too. Perhaps a light grey background would gently indicate their unique status as “unpublished”.
Also: Helpful if LI echoes the total number of your Posts in this sidebar area. Context, context, context.
The “closure” buttons in the upper right work okay, though I have to wonder at why I need to click twice to first “Publish” and then “Confirm” – especially since LI gives me no feedback between those two actions… ?
The editorial UI does not accept using the [return] or [enter] to insert more vertical spacing between sections. You end up using a kluge – like typing a single “.” in order to make your forced spacing work. This is where the HTML <hr> tag would be helpful: It inserts a horizontal line and some spacing into the text body.
The editorial process is still a little “iffy”. The video that I embedded in this page didn’t “take” the first time around. I had to enter it twice. Keep working on your QA, guys.
Some of the Editorial Tool changes are obvious. Some aren’t.
Wouldn’t it be nice if LI had offered a little conscious, proactive contextual framing – i.e. introduction, guidance – for the changes that they implemented (imposed on us)? It’s just a thought. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
Delete a Post
Merged 01/21/2015: 213 Views, 11 Likes
This was one of the most popular “Bad UX” rants. Linked In has since updated their UI – and several of the problems described here have been corrected. Thanks, grumpy colleagues. – John
“It’s like pulling teeth”
LI’s “Help Center” lists the 6 (six!) necessary steps under the title “Deleting or Republishing a Deleted Long-Form Post“. uhhhhh …. yeah
First you have to get to your library of “My Posts“. Good luck with that. You can only Post from your Profile page.There’s nothing like a global direct link to “My Posts” (for example: under the “Profile” or “Interests” dropdown menus) – Even tho I will probably be inspired to post something while I’m browsing thru other areas of LinkedIn)
Once you get to your “My Posts” page, wouldn’t it make sense – and conform to standard best practices – to simply have a [ Delete ] button on each Post?
NOPE. Instead, you have to
- Edit a post
- Expose the righthand sidebar list of your posts
- Find the “See your posts and stats” link at the bottom of the sidebar (who knew?)
- Click on it
- Now you see your “My Posts” page with a [ Delete ] button on each Post
This exercise is sorta like those spam emails and invasive sites that make it as difficult as possible for you to opt out.
Merged 01/21/2015: 102 Views, 2 Likes
Not too long ago, LinkedIn presented a couple of buttons on every “Discussion” that allowed me – as a viewer – to identify a posting as being a “Job” or “Spam“.
The “old” UI allowed me to quickly and easily alert both LinkedIn AND the Discussion Moderator that the intent of the Group was being violated. It was pretty handy: One-click crowdsourcing of QA.
Sadly, some “contributors” are more opportunistic than ethical – or maybe they’re just sloppy. In any case, the LinkedIn UI used to be more efficient.
Perhaps we can move forward … by stepping back.
Some of these POSTS were re-published on UX Professional GROUPS. Why? A public POST on LI can be viewed by anyone – but it can also easily be lost amid the hundreds of POSTS that are published every day … most of which are self-marketing or self-help screeds. The UX-oriented GROUPS I selected (some of them are private) are a targeted audience of COLLEAGUES.
As hoped, they’ve provided professional feedback on the topic (lending support and identifying several additional UX problems).
The problem with multiple cross-pollinated GROUP threads is that they’re really laborious to maintain – because LI lacks the support tools. I was sort of (*ahem*) hoping that LinkedIn might engineer in some design solutions… or at the very least respond to the issue.
The Connection Challenge
As a Linked In Premium member, I’m interested in networking with people who’ve demonstrated – however shallowly – an interest in me. LI alerts me when that happens and I visit the “Who’s viewed your profile” page regularly in order to follow thru.
- Once there, I’m presented with the thumbnails of people who’ve taken a look at me.
- People who’ve chosen to connect with me already display a “Message” button.
- People who aren’t there yet display a “Connect” button.
- I click on “Connect”
- Linked in allows me to send them an invitation.
- BAD UX: Linked in *does not* return me to the “Who’s viewed your profile” page.
I’m obliged to click the Back button on the browser (a couple of times!) or go thru some other convoluted navigation in order to return to the “Who’s viewed your profile” page, so that I can continue to try to connect with people who’ve shown an interest in me.
The person who I just sent the invitation to still has a “Connect” button. In fact, anyone who hasn’t accepted my invitation appears with a “Connect” button. But if I click on the “Connect” button, Linked In now gives me a totally different interface – Which I can’t use because the person hasn’t yet responded to my invitation. Yoicks.
In the “profile views matter” section of the “Who’s viewed your profile” page, Linked In suggests people and groups for me to connect with. Unfortunately, the “Connect” button in this section does not provide ANY editorial control by me. In this case, the “Connect” button has a totally different (i.e. non-existant) interaction pattern.
Short term Solutions
- Automatically return me to the “Who’s viewed your profile” page after I’ve made an invitation to connect, so that I can continue making invitations.
- Linked In: If you still want me to go to the “People you may want to connect with” page, then offer that as an alternative path, but don’t interrupt the workflow.
- Identify the people with whom I already have outstanding invitations. Don’t make me guess. Don’t make me fail. Don’t waste my time.
- Make the workflow pattern of the “Connect” button in the “profile views matter” section of the “Who’s viewed your profile” page consistent with the other Connect functionality.
Wouldn’t it be nice?
- … if LinkedIn allowed us to create one POST (with all the nice design-y bells & whistles) and then publish it across multiple Groups. Basically, LinkedIn would handle the indexing task. This would ease the editorial process and also encourage collaboration across Group boundaries.
Merged 01/21/2015: 329 Views, 7 Likes
UX “by the Numbers”
Almost 5000 Groups now label themselves as “user experience“. Wow. I don’t know how many there were last week, but I believe that the number deserves some critical examination.
A disciplined approach
So I entered “user experience” + “information architecture” into my search criteria. It reduced that total number to 36 Groups. Take out the regional groups, and you’re down to about 25. I’m a member of 20 of those groups – and feel pretty confident that they represent a substantial number of the most credible UX-labeled groups, ranging in size from a few thousand to almost 100,000 members.
Context: This survey of UX-related groups was done back in Fall of 2014.
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