Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference last week in Aspen, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman was slow to agree with the notion that his site’s design was ‘unresponsive and confusing’ — but eventually conceded that it indeed needed work.
Hoffman responded to a question from Jourdan Urbach — CTO of social video platform Ocho — about LinkedIn’s design. Urbach asked whether there was a tactical decision to make LinkedIn’s interface difficult to use.
Hoffman disagreed with Urbach’s idea at the start, but rallied round and said:
Look, we work on it, we may work on it slower than we should. I think some people find it very confusing. That’s absolutely the case and there’s definitely more work we can do. There’s also people who work on it every day and actually, in fact, know how to do it. And we have a lot of complicated functionalities. So it’s not just uploading a picture hitting a “like.”
While it’s good to hear that the social network for business will someday get some design love, it’s bewildering to learn that Hoffman thinks other sites are easier to use merely because they have simpler functions.
What’s so complex about the core features of LinkedIn anyway? It only needs to let you publish your profile and posts, review connection requests and message your contacts.
Here’s just one example: Whenever I’ve tried to accept several connection requests from the top navigation bar, there’s no way to clear out those that you’ve acted on to make room for more while staying on the page. Instead, you’ll have to click See All, and visit a page that’s filled with more ‘people you may know’ than actual invitations.
Good design isn’t easy, but it’s important for decision-makers to understand its importance and have the right attitude about improving their products.