More on LinkedIn Groups and Their New Design

By: Viveka Thursday August 29, 2013 comments Tags: LinkedIn Groups, New LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Group Owner, changes to groups, Viveka von Rosen, Steve Spenser, new Group UI

I recently posted an article on the new LinkedIn Group format (http://linkedintobusiness.com/viveka/LinkedIns-New-Group-Look-and-What-It-Means-to-You--i-272.asp).   I personally like the new look, and being comfortable with the platform, didn’t think too much beyond that.  I played around in it for awhile and then posted what I liked and was concerned about.

 And then I posted it in one of my groups.  Well – I was blown away by Steve Spenser’s response! ( www.linkedin.com/in/stevenspenser ).  Steve is a  "Web-site usability expert” and principal of Praxis Communication.  I asked if he would let me share them with you and he said yes.  While “The following opinions are not necessarily my own” I think Steven’s reply was so considerate you should see read it too.

What I like is that Steven is looking at this both as a LinkedIn user and a website usability expert.  So he knows!

 Here's Steve’s analysis of the design changes:

 PART ONE:

 (1) Instead of being in the right margin, the "Manager's Choice" discussions are now rotating in a carousel at the top of the Discussions page.

 (2) The old "More" tab is gone, with its links to Your Settings, Group Profile and Group Statistics. You can find them now by clicking the italic "i" link at the top right of any page in your group.

 (3) What concerns me the most is that our Group Rules are now completely hidden, instead of being available formerly as a link in the top right corner. To find your rules, you need to click on the italic "i" in the upper right corner, then search for the blue “Group Rules” link (located—aarrggh!—on a black background, against all conventions of optimal Web design) under the white "About" column.

 (4) What probably will concern members most is that the redesign has eliminated the (attached) link field that was formerly part of starting a new Discussion. For now you’ll have to enter your links manually in the “More Details” field.

 (5) Posts appearing on your group’s Discussions page used to have a “More” link under them for opening the individual discussion page within the group. That link is gone, and the only Discussions you can open within your group now are the ones with heavy, black, bold-face titles. Click on those, and you’ll be taken to the individual discussion page.

 As before, you can still comment on any discussion by filling in the “Add a Comment” box immediately below the appearance of the discussion on your Discussions page. But now, any discussions that are nothing but drive-by postings of links—opening only at the linked blog or article page—cannot be opened in your group as an individual discussion. You will be able to identify them because their discussion titles will be in link blue instead of the heavy, black, bold-face titles of actual discussions, and clicking on the blue discussion title will take you out of your group to the linked content. This is an easy way to identify drive-by blogvertisers.

 (6) If you want to flag a discussion as "Inappropriate" or as a Promotion or Job (moving them to those two tabs), those flags no longer appear under each individual discussion. You'll find them now in the drop-down menu of the Down Arrow (grey triangle) found at the top right of each discussion on the Discussions page, and also at the top right of each discussion title on the individual discussion’s page. When you open an individual discussion, be aware that if it has a lengthy bold-faced title, it may extend into the margin and appear superimposed over the Down Arrow, hiding it, so you sometimes have to look carefully for the arrow to find it.

As always, the “Reply Privately” link is still grouped with the flag links, found in the same drop-down menu of the Arrow.

(7) You will find that LI has included the "Share to LI" widget (the same one found on many external Web pages for posting articles to LI) in that same Down Arrow. You now can share any discussion appearing on your Discussions page that includes external links, as an Update to all of LI (or to just your connections), to other groups, and/or to individuals. Note that you can edit the original discussion's link title and its description fields, add your own (different) title to the shared post, and provide additional details/comments.

(8) As before, we still have the option of choosing to view discussions on the Discussions page by “Most Popular” or “Most Recent”, but the horizontally scrolling carousel displaying the former Most Popular category has gone. You can click either “Popular” or “Recent” just below the New Discussion Box (and immediately above the list of all discussions) on your Discussions page to reorder it according to your preference.

(9) The old "Members" tab is gone, but you can browse through your group's membership list by clicking on the numerical Members link at the top of any group page.

(10) The “New Members” feature, formerly in the right margin, has been dropped, but you can find the names, titles and location of new members from the last seven days by clicking on the numerical Members link at the top. The new members will appear on the left margin of the resulting page.

(11) The most curious addition, to me, is the right-curving arrow at the far top right of every page in the group. This is a link to the Sharing widget, but it appears to share only your group itself, and nothing more.

(12) We can no longer start new Promotions or new Job Discussions within those tabs, and the Start a Discussion link is gone from the Discussions page. Those functions have been included in the redesigned “Start a discussion” box on the Discussions page, which now features radio buttons for selecting whether your new post will be a “General,” “Promotion” or “Job” discussion.

(13) Mousing over the name of a group on its Discussions page will indicate whether it is an open or closed group.

(14) Members’ profile photos appear much larger now on the pages of their individual discussions.

(15) Has the profile photo’s thumbnail data expanded? It seems to include more than before.

 (16) The ability to start a new LI Poll within a group apparently has been removed—even if the group is configured to allow members to initiate a Poll.

(17) The only way to find Subgroups now within a group is to click on the italic “i” icon and follow the link for the number of subgroups. (Not the word “Subgroups” itself—the number next to it.)

(18) The “Top Influencers” section in the right margin is larger and more prominent.

(19) The biggest problem with how Discussions now look under the redesign is that, on an individual discussion’s page, the originator’s profile headline appears directly above the opening text of the discussion. The two different blocks of text use the same font and font size, and aren’t separated by any visual cue such as italics, horizontal lines, boxes, links, etc. This means members may get confused reading the originator’s profile headline and thinking it is the beginning of the discussion text.

FOR GROUP OWNERS & MANAGERS:

(20) Due to bugs, group owners and managers have lost the ability to permanently remove individual discussions from the list of Manager’s Choices, and cannot re-order the sequence of their appearance as before. Group administrators who attempt to re-order the sequence will find, after every new click on “Save,” that their list of Manager’s Choice discussions expands with new additions out of thin air and/or shrinks with removed discussions. Unselecting a discussion as Manager’s Choice does not necessarily remove it from the Manager’s Choice carousel.

(21) If a Manager or Owner has selected her own discussions or Group Announcements as Manager’s Choice[s], her face will appear in a huge rendition of her profile image next to each Manager’s Choice discussion rotating through the carousel. This can seem vain if the Owner or Manager has not made anyone else’s discussion a Manager’s Choice.

(22) The new “Share Group” widget in the right-curving arrow at the far top right of any group page comes with a huge risk: 

Anyone who uses this Share Group widget can replace the group’s profile description with whatever malicious or pranking text she wishes. Since you can Share the group as a post to other LI groups, group members (and, presumably, non-members in Open groups) can wreak havoc with your group’s reputation by using your group’s rewritten profile description to spam other groups, all of LI (as an Update), or individuals. If a Group includes its Rules within the text of its Group Profile, those Rules also can be re-written by people abusing the Share Group widget. 

The actual link accompanying the Share Group post will direct people to your proper Group Profile, but the damage will still have been done. More importantly, posts made to Open Groups show up in Web indexes and searches, making the impact far greater and more public.

(23) The old "See this member's activity" page, which I typically reached via the Submissions Queue, had links to "View Profile" and "Send Message," as well as gray buttons for Remove, Block, and Block and Delete. Those links are now hidden, although still present. On the new Activity page, to View [a] Profile or Send [a] Message you must click on the gray down arrow (or triangle) to the right of "Follow [name of member]". 

Also, the Management functions of Remove, Block and Block/Delete are gone. The "Change Permissions" button's menu now only contains "Default," "Approved to Post" and "Requires Moderation." However, you still can block and delete directly from the Submissions page.

See what I mean?  Very thoughtful investigation of LinkedIn’s new Group UI.  I think LinkedIn might fix some of the glitches, and some changes are here to stay.  It feels to me that this new platform might have been created to support new features – or it might simply be that LinkedIn wanted Group, University and Company pages to look the same.  Only time (or someone better connected to me) will tell!

What are your thoughts on the new LinkedIn Group page?  Let us know below!

Viveka

About the Author: Viveka

Viveka is author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and is known internationally as the “LinkedIn Expert”.
CEO of Linked Into Business, she also hosts the biggest LinkedIn chat on Twitter.  Forbes has listed her as a top social media influencer for three years running, and she has been cited in Ragan, CNN, Forbes, Mashable, Simple Living, Bloomberg, LinkedIn's Small Business Site and "The Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to LinkedIn, The Miami Herald, Social Media Today and The Social Media Examiner!

Find on Google+