Why I hate LinkedIn and how Microsoft could fix it (but probably won't)

Big news came this week in the form of Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn for the cool sum of $26.2 billion. That’s a little over sixty bucks for each of the social network’s 430 million members.

Ordinarily this would be a hugely exciting development, perhaps the most definitive software brand of all time scooping up the world’s online CV database.

It could be an enormous, instantaneous step forward for the way businesses connect, communicate and thrive together, were it not for one niggling detail…

…LinkedIn is arse.

It’s bad. It’s poopoo. It barely functions.

If I wasn’t managing pages on behalf of clients, I’d delete my profile tomorrow and enjoy a richer, fuller life. I can scarcely summon the wit to fully articulate my disdain, nay, my open and unblemished hatred for this ugly, over-designed slapdash wreck of a social network.

With no meaningful competition to push it to improve, LinkedIn has cast its wretched shadow over our working lives since 2003. But now, maybe, we can hold some sliver of hope for improvement.

Microsoft, we know you read the Sookio blog, so this is our open letter, our wishlist of things we’d dearly love you to take care of.

1: Work out what the site is for

Is LinkedIn a social network? Is it a CV database? Is it a professional resource library? It performs all of these tasks and more, all to an abysmal standard.

By putting a thin, ‘professional’ veneer over basic social media functions, all the site has done is give me one more timeline to gawk at, full of people I care even less about than my Facebook friends list.

Take a look at what features people are actually using, adapt the service to how they’re using them and ditch everything else.

2: Rebuild the site from scratch

Like any malignant cancerous growth, LinkedIn has developed ‘organically,’ with features being slowly added over the years. In many cases, these features barely integrate with one another on any level.

Just one example: LinkedIn bought/absorbed Slideshare in 2012. Who uses Slideshare? Companies! Can you add a slide deck to your company’s page on LinkedIn? The hell you can!

Once you’ve taken our first point on board, burn the site to the ground and salt the earth so that something better can be built where the crumbling edifice once stood.

3: Sex it up

LinkedIn is an ugly, ugly place. Maybe this was an intentional choice? I mean, we all hate our jobs, right? So perhaps a network catering to the business community should evoke the same soul-crushing despair you feel every Monday when you sit down at your desk?

I suspect this is not the case. I suspect the site’s designers were just really lazy and tried to half-arse the job with a bad Facebook rip-off.

Please, on behalf of everyone like me who has to use this site, at least give us something vaguely appealing to look at.

4: Sort out the notifications

LinkedIn, mate, I realise you haven’t even needed to be able to spell UX thus far, but this one could be my biggest bugbear. Why do I get a dozen notifications from some spammy group chat, but nothing about updates from my own company?

Disabling email notifications is also a pain in the body part of your choice. Just give me the option in the email to unsubscribe from everything without hunting through your labyrinthine settings menus.

5: Make endorsements mean something

In my time on LinkedIn I have, on separate occasions, been endorsed for ‘beer’ and for ‘being sexy af.’

The person who endorsed me for beer, I have never had so much as a half with. How do they know? Does my reputation precede me? As for the other endorsement… well, what can I say?

I beg you; put some kind of limitations on who can endorse who for what. Make it easier to connect with relevant people and only let people endorse those with whom they’ve actually worked.

Otherwise it’s just middle management drones collecting endorsements for ‘entrepreneurship’ like Pokémon cards.

6: Be fair with the data

We know your game, LinkedIn. The lion’s share of your revenue (this lion happens to be Scar) comes from flogging as much of our data as you can. We’re really excited about helping you boil all of humanity down to a set of algorithms.

At least be fair about it. Get rid of LinkedIn Premium features and put no barriers in the way of feeding you all the details of our behaviour you can eat.

While you’re at it, let us get our hands on some of it. LinkedIn analytics are pathetic right now. More functionality to unlock more meaningful analytics for your actual users might send the tentative message that you maybe give half a hoot about us.

Those are just the top six of our many, many LinkedIn gripes. If the Microsoft buyout fixes even three or four of those, I’ll consider this a blog well written.

Alternatively, it could just go the way of Nokia.

What do you want to see from LinkedIn under Microsoft? Or are you totally happy with the platform and don’t even know what we’re bellyaching about? Either way, drop us a comment or get in touch.