What is up with LinkedIn’s user interface?

Today, I spent an hour of my day cleaning up the mess that LinkedIn’s auto-invitation program has made. I honestly think that this program has really tarnished my name by making me look like a complete idiot. Here is my account of what happened.

After receiving an invitation from a friend that I worked with in college (I am still in college, but she has moved on now), I decided to join LinkedIn so that I could further complete my ultimate goal to unleash my professional identity online. Phase I was the restructuring of this website to begin branding it as the central hub of my online identity (still not done!); Phase II was to make the connections I had in real life with those in the digital world to further solidify my online identity. What better way than to use the LinkedIn platform to make those connections?

Moreover, what faster to make those connections than to allow LinkedIn access to my online address book? In theory, I thought that LinkedIn would send those people who already had LinkedIn profiles, but had no connection to me, invitations in an email. I did not realize that LinkedIn would hijack my address book and send invitations to all 792 of my contacts, regardless of whether or not they had a LinkedIn account. Ridiculous.

What is worse is the fact that in all 792 of my contacts, for those that did not accept my invitation, LinkedIn would conveniently send a reminder email every week on the dot to them to remind them to accept or reject my invite:


This is a reminder that on May 27, Klein Lieu sent you an invitation to become part of his or her professional network at LinkedIn.

Follow this link to accept Klein Lieu’s invitation.


Signing up is free and takes less than a minute.

What a sham, and seriously, what a cunning way to perpetuate the usage of LinkedIn to the mass market. Get an unsuspecting novice user to send an invitation to every contact in his address book, and I mean every contact: mailing lists, people you have done business with on Craigslist, robot email addresses, and my favorite — schools that I rejected or that rejected me. Very smart on LinkedIn’s part to perpetuate its brand and grasp on the world, I guess, but I do not know if it was intentional or not, so I do not know if I should be giving full credit to them development team.

So where do I go on from here? Well, I have learned two things from this one-hour “ordeal” that I feel like the LinkedIn development team could take into consideration:

  1. When creating user interfaces, give the user complete control over EVERYTHING. We should let the user to be in control of what they want to do with their information. In UNIX, “rm -rf <directory>” more or less gets rid of everything in a directory, why couldn’t LinkedIn have made that option available? It only takes a few lines of code I am sure: a getter into the database, a loop, and maybe an undo function and we are done. The problem with LinkedIn’s user interface was that it did not allow the user full control over his/her information in an efficient way. What is missing in LinkedIn’s UI? Mass moderation of invitations, “Show 50 | 100 | 200 on each page” options (Who uses pages anymore? Seriously, you should just autoload everything when the user gets to the bottom of the page. Yes I am aware that there are problems with that too, but that is for another post), and how about proper page redirection for starters?
  2. Seriously, there is a huge disconnect with the thinking of LinkedIn’s development team and how a number of my friends store email addresses in address books – they don’t. My friends and I would rather search Gmail or whatever client for a previously sent email, or would look up your email address on Facebook to get your email address…or just text you! Not look up your name in an address book. The only reason why I still have an address book is for the sole purpose of syncing my contacts’ phone numbers from/to my Droid with the cloud. Anyways, my point is why not allow users to import contacts using other means, such as by Facebook lists (Yes, I categorize almost everyone in a list on Facebook)?

These are my two cents on LinkedIn, but more importantly, they are my views on the trends that the web is adopting right now. In any case, I have to update my LinkedIn profile now. Great, another extension of my identity I have to GO TO and update. Things on the internet should come to me, not the other way around, but that is a post for later.