LinkedIn Design Challenge
LinkedIn Design Challenge
LinkedIn is a place where people can connect to people they know, in order to share professional experience and opportunities. Professional networking can begin at any point, even in school. Increasingly, students are relying on their mobile address book, and not their email address book, to manage their contacts.
Fall 2017 — 1 week
Skills: User Research, UX Design, Visual Design
Task: Design an experience that helps college students discover and connect to their classmates, without relying on email.
Research and Insights
Understanding the Problem Space
Questions: After reading the prompt, I began by having questions I wanted to address through research. Here's some of the main questions I asked:
- What do students think of when they hear "connect" or "connecting with classmates"?
- How do students go about discovering and connecting with their classmates? What do they rely on and why?
- What is important to students when discovering and connecting with classmates on LinkedIn? What do they look for and what is interesting to them?
- Can they describe a recent time they connected to their classmate on LinkedIn? What is most annoying/most memorable and why?
Research Goal: Going into research, my goal was to understand a college student's process, behavior, and attitude when discovering and connecting with classmates in general and specifically on LinkedIn .
To address my initial questions, I interviewed 6 college students across various undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as from different schools. I found that all use LinkedIn and had the app downloaded. Here's what they said:
Following the interviews, I created an Affinity Diagram to organize key insights, embody the voice of the user, and visualize problems and opportunities. Here are the main takeaways:
- Students equally valued both their social and professional life but LinkedIn is not on their radar as much as social media platforms
- Students are willing and even inspired to reach out when they see people doing something they want to do
- Students are skeptical of random people connecting but are more trusting to connect when they see credibility through the same alma mater or interests
There are two types of users who have different motivations and actions:
- Those who are actively interested in the profiles and activity of strangers (classmates such as alumni they have not met yet)
- Those who only reach out to classmates they have met in person
There are more opportunities to improve connections through addressing what users consider to be important and valuable when discovering classmates since discovery can lead to connecting. I identified three possible entry points:
- Improve how LinkedIn profiles can be suggested or introduced to students
- Improve how students can discover strangers through mutual interests and how they can reach out to them for professional advice
- Improve ways to search for classmates
User Persona + Possible Scenario
Meet Kira, a sophomore college student seeking professional advice from classmates she hasn't met yet
- Main Problem - It's difficult to discover and approach classmates she hasn't met
- Design Opportunity - She wants to learn and connect with classmates who are strangers but have the same interests and alma mater
- Potential Entry Point - She is beginning to use LinkedIn more frequently in height of internships and figuring out her career path
When analyzing the current flow, I found that searching for schools was hidden under the content category and not intuitive. Even after finding schools, my own university did not appear in the first few and ended up not appearing on the whole page. I ended up searching for it specifically.
A possible user flow I sketched out could include a "My School" tab from the very beginning to optimize discoverability and allow for a college specific network.
I began with wireframing to develop a high-fidelity Invision prototype. I sketched out some of the following concepts keeping in mind the user persona:
- Search — improving the discoverability of the school
- Seek for advice — allow students to post questions / ask help to college network
- My School tab — college specific network and feed
- Onboard — helping new users learn and approach features
After receiving feedback from users, the My School tab resonated with most people because people felt it was more convenient, allowed more focusing compared with Facebook, and people are curious about what's trending at school/alumnis with similar interests.
Interaction Flow and Visual Design
Hi-Fidelity Invision Prototype
It was interesting researching about the different ways that people search and connect with people since I learned that people will still rely on their school directory! I was able to get this prototype tested on usertesting.com with college students. Most users instantly recognized that this was for LinkedIn but were pleasantly surprised to see a school specific network. People's responses were mostly that they would want to use this app because they trust networking with people who go to the same school. However, users that have transferred schools provided feedback that they would want more features seeking help and understanding their new school's culture and students.
If I were to do this differently, I would take into consideration the feedback from usertesting.com and:
- Explore a persona who is more in transition such a transfer or masters student's experience moving to a new university and growing a new network of friends and professionals.
- Prototype and user test how people choose their schools looking into when students would start using LinkedIn (as early as high school?), how to change schools, and what would the history of different schools look like?
- Validate and update if this design allows for students to feel comfortable and safe messaging people they haven't necessarily met in person.