I like LinkedIn. Of all the social and portfolio aimed networks I have tried, I believe LinkedIn to be one of the leading in allowing me to expose myself, professionally speaking of course.
While I don’t watch LinkedIn updates as closely as a user experience professional might be curious enough to do, I do notice the improvements while using the service. I like where they’ve gone with look and feel as well as some of the sidebar features like metrics and how you’re connected.
LinkedIn has always had a hierarchical labeling for connection depth, but they’ve taken it visual, and I believe it to be a great addition. Now, in additional to the “1st”, “2nd”, and so on, degrees of connection, I can see in a simple graphic who fills the gap between a potential connection and myself.
Another great feature is the commonalities graph. This allows me to see what I have in common with a potential connection. Take my peer Jeremy Hixon for example. He and I have worked together for going on several years. I honestly already know what we have in common. But, say we weren’t yet connected and I was visiting his profile to determine if we should connect, if we know each other, etc. I’d see this graphic that shows a strong commonality in the area of Skills & Expertise. Similarly, LinkedIn shows that we share a few groups, and we share a company and location as well. The size of the bubble is in direct relation to how much commonality there is.
It’s a very simple thing, this graphical representation of commonality. But, like with several of the other LinkedIn UI updates, this graphic makes reading through profiles even more interesting. While it’s not fun to the extent of a bouncy house at a carnival, it is a fun and attractive element that gives good information to a LinkedIn user.
I’m sure there are skeptics, but I appreciate the effort LinkedIn has given in improving my experience as a regular (an paying) member of their network.