How Important is Design? Q&A with LinkedIn’s Amy Parnell

SocialTimes recently chatted with Amy Parnell, the director of user experience at LinkedIn, to learn more about what goes into a redesign (or a slight tweak).

One of the main questions a seasoned social media user asks after a few months is, “Why is this changing?” Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social platforms all go through design changes that can seem random and counter-intuitive.

But there is a process and a meaning behind design changes. SocialTimes recently chatted with Amy Parnell, the director of user experience at LinkedIn, to learn more about what goes into a redesign (or a slight tweak). Parnell spoke at the CapitalOne CapX Talk in San Francisco about the importance of solid design:

LinkedIn design principles focus on creating experiences that are approachable, streamlined, personalized and guided. We want to ensure the experience feels efficient and productive, helping our members to achieve their goals.

Later on, Parnell chatted with SocialTimes in an exclusive interview.

SocialTimes: LinkedIn has gone through a few design tweaks recently. How have the changes improved user experience? What kind of feedback have you been getting?

Amy Parnell: We are in a constant state of evolution with our site and app designs, and strive to push the experience and product value to new heights on an ongoing basis. We comb through feedback from a variety of sources to help inform how we evolve. Initially we test new designs internally, and gather feedback from our most vocal users – LinkedIn employees. After iterating and improving based on internal feedback, we launch publicly. At that point we look at site metrics, help center feedback, user research findings, and social media commentary to decide how to further refine or change the experience to meet our users’ needs and expectations.

CapX Talk Panel 2

ST: What kind of research goes into design changes on LinkedIn, especially as more advertising enters the mix?

AP: We gather data from a variety of sources – market research, user research including ethnographic studies and usability studies, site metrics/analytics, and help center feedback. We use research at the inception of a project – to help inform strategy and inspire new ideas – and then continually test prototypes throughout the design iteration to validate our hypotheses and concepts.

ST: Over the years, LinkedIn has moved from being simply a professional network to adding a content platform (thinking of Pulse). How has design evolved to make LinkedIn a place where thought leaders want to share and engage with content, and not just network?

AP: We spend a lot of time designing experiences that keep our members engaged on the site, gaining knowledge and insights through content. We have achieved this in a number of ways, such as enriching the homepage feed with content; featuring the author’s content on their Profile as a way to build their professional brand; and creating a standalone content-centric app (Pulse).

Readers: How do you feel about the current design of LinkedIn?

CapXTalk Amy Parnell 2 from Ashley Short on Vimeo.

Top image courtesy of Denys Prykhodov /