Professional social network LinkedIn is finally redesigning the desktop computer version of its homepage.
The long-awaited facelift comes about nine months after the company completed a similar redesign of its mobile apps, a first step in its attempt to lure users into spending more time on its service. The new designs include a new look for the main feed, new messaging features, and a chat bot that can chime in to help with chores like scheduling meetings—all very clear attempts to bring its service into the modern era of consumer apps.
“At LinkedIn, it always starts with our mission […] to make the world more productive and successful,” LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said at a press event at the company’s San Francisco office on Thursday.
One of the most noticeable upcoming changes is a simpler design for Linkedn’s main feed, where users get the latest updates from their connections, access their own profiles, and check messages. The new design is more akin to its mobile app, with buttons for the various sections at the top left corner of the homepage.
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As part of its campaign to get users to log into LinkedIn and spend more time on it, the company is also hoping to make itself into a destination to get the day’s news. Users will now start seeing more news about topics LinkedIn thinks will interest them, something it did before, but to a lesser extent. And users will be able to dig deeper into topics based on related articles that the service suggests that they read.
In short: LinkedIn (lnkd) wants you to come to its site to read the news. You may already rely on Twitter and Facebook for that, but LinkedIn hopes it can tell you about the news that matters for your job.
LinkedIn’s messaging feature, in particular, now reminiscent of Facebook and Gmail’s chat functions. Now, LinkedIn users will see a small box in the lower right corner that displays some of their contacts. Just like on Facebook and Gmail, when users tap on a contact, another small box opens for sending messages that looks and feels like a casual chat box. That’s a big change from LinkedIn’s old and clunky InMail design, which was just as exciting as email (meaning: not much).
LinkedIn, which cleaned up the messaging design to make it feel more like chat a year ago, says that it’s seen a 240% year-over-year bump in the number of messages sent. It’s taking the effort a step further with the chat box.
In addition, LinkedIn is introducing a chat bot, a feature increasingly adopted by social media companies like Facebook. For example, the bot can come in handy when two users are trading messages and decide they want to meet up. The LinkedIn bot will find mutually available times in their Google calendars to make scheduling meetings easier. LinkedIn won’t be opening it bot up to outside developers just yet, and is instead cautiously wading into the new feature by focusing on only a few uses. Eventually, Microsoft, which acquired LinkedIn earlier this summer for $26.2 billion, will be a valuable partner in building bots, said Weiner.
LinkedIn’s desire to appeal to millennials is undeniable as it jumps on the chat bot bandwagon by appeal to younger users by adding the kind of features they use elsewhere in their favorite messaging apps.
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The company also revealed a new recommendation engine for Lynda.com, the online education company LinkedIn acquired last year for $1.5 billion. The goal with LinkedIn Learning, the new portal created from the Lynda acquisition is to use the data about jobs and professions the company gathers to recommend courses to users. As we increasingly grow comfortable with the notion that robots will take over our jobs, “the useful shelf life of skills has shrunk to less than five years,” according to a quote LinkedIn showed during the presentation on Thursday.
As for any meaningful collaborations between LinkedIn and Microsoft, we’ll have to wait a little longer. The new LinkedIn features announced on Thursday have been the works long before LinkedIn held acquisitions talks with Microsoft (msft), according to Weiner, and the two companies are still working on closing up all the legal paperwork for the acquisition.