Some behind-the-scenes thinking of a re-imagined $26B social network
Finding my market fit
With over two years of experience at LinkedIn, focusing on Home and Sharing. I’m excited to share my journey and showcase some of my work. LinkedIn, known for its corporate vibe, presented unique challenges and opportunities to humanize its UI, content, and interaction design, which I was eager to contribute to.
The core of LinkedIn
During my tenure at Google, I developed a passion for designing scalable and sustainable product UI, contributing to the growth of products through systemic and standardized design. Around 2019, LinkedIn sought to modernize a similar space to broaden its audience reach.
Ultimately, I became part of the consumer product team within the Content Experience Org, working across the Home and Sharing pillars. I collaborated closely with teams such as Conversations, Infra, Live, Video, and Stories, collectively focusing on content creation and enhancing engagement and trust across LinkedIn. The following outlines the broad scope of the work I engaged in during that period.
Lowering the barrier to sharing through research, collaboration & systems design
Often confronting the challenge of professionals navigating content sharing while upholding a professional image — a concern not mirrored on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. This encapsulates the central problem statement for LinkedIn users.
Members are afraid of putting their reputation at risk. How can clarity and confidence ease these fears?
Listening to users & scaling up — while creating a more flexible framework over time
I was fortunate to straddle the line between Home and Sharing, acting as the sole designer on the sharing pillar for 2+ years — including desktop, iOS, and Android, partnering with product and engineering to co-lead a scrum team focused on improving how members and companies post content on LinkedIn. Example pain points we took sight of include:
The existing member experience is characterized by a strict, cold, and corporate environment, compounded by legacy design patterns that erode focus and trust. The absence of clear guidance contributes to an overall lack of confidence, further exacerbated by poor ADA compliance. On the business side, challenges include addressing technical debt and engineering maintenance issues, establishing standardization across design systems, fostering growth in content creation and creators, and navigating updates in sponsored revenue. Addressing these aspects is crucial for enhancing both the member experience and the business’s overall effectiveness.
Working across Content Experience
I concentrated on the core of LinkedIn engagement — the Home feed, where users share diverse content. This involved audience settings, sharing photos, videos, and job postings. My collaboration extended to the Conversations team for communication elements like comments and reactions, while also engaging with the “Infra” team to align architectural design principles and goals with design systems and user engagement teams.
Often using the Double Diamond method to discover, define, and deliver at various stages of design thinking. This helped keep stakeholders and partner teams aware, on board, and involved each step of the way.
Home feed redesign
During my tenure with the Home team, my primary focus was revamping the mobile feed experience, specifically leading the redesign efforts. This involved addressing member pain points in the existing Home UX and applying our new design principles to establish a solid foundation, serving as a reference for other LinkedIn products. Leading with mobile-first, enabling efficient testing, validation, and scalable implementation. The Feed MVP team, comprising leads, engineers, and researchers, worked collaboratively to validate a new design language, offering both under-the-hood scaffolding and a visually refreshing redesign, starting with iOS.
This included taking a newly vetted design system (Mercado) and stress testing it against a series of qual and quantitative experiments. This meant exploring and defining principles based on member pain points, research, and ramp milestones.
How it started v. how it’s going
Using research, competitive analysis, and extensive prototyping, we introduced a new card and canvas feed design.
Driven by principles and research, our approach prioritized warmth, inclusivity, and simplicity. We revamped color palettes and content design for a more engaging experience, streamlined UI for accessibility, and simplified design systems. Focused on common feed pain points, we standardized UI, enhanced accessibility, and improved navigation. Using sponsored updates as a benchmark, we scaled these improvements across Android and Web platforms.
We developed Figma component libraries to streamline our iterative process.
Validation through Mixed Methods Research
Our focus on usability involved rigorous testing of labels, screen readers, and member engagement, ensuring adherence to enhanced accessibility standards. We used tools like Principle, Figma, and production code to prototype and reinforce the brand, striving for a warmer look and feel through revised colors while maintaining content elevation.
Users felt the new feed was warmer and easier to engage with across cases
Working with researchers, we developed and executed virtual interviews to test multiple variants for usability, accessibility, and ease of use. Resulting in a starter kit for other pillars to learn and execute from.
Paving the way for a modernized Share experience
My time on Sharing was the most tenured and impactful. It allowed me to shoot for a vision that I knew was attainable but would likely face a few snags along the way. This meant working closely with design systems, infra, and partner teams like conversations, pages, media core, and events.
Informed by competitive research, we focused on boosting member confidence through refined guidance and improved copywriting in various Sharing scenarios. Our strategy included a holistic assessment of data points’ impact on broader projects and pillars, aligning with overarching business and member goals.
Transitioning away from custom components, we embraced a design system to address pain points and guide future work, prioritizing mobile to influence desktop experiences. Our commitment to accessibility involved adhering to standardized criteria for landscape and portrait functionality in sharing across diverse orientations.
Resulting in a cross-platform and scalable framework for new partners and content
A stable and well-supported end-to-end sharing flow was key to bringing it all together, and allowing for future products to co-exist, such as Polls, Stories, and Events.
A clearer and more accessible UX was the way to go
Implementing clearer descriptions and consistent navigation patterns significantly improved product understanding and overall user confidence, serving as a guiding principle throughout our workflows, with successful testing in pop-up and lab studies. However, within LinkedIn’s extensive structure, marked by checks and balances, maintaining velocity became a challenge.
The dynamic landscape of accessibility, standardization, and diverse use cases made it challenging to find dedicated time for in-depth experimentation. Engaging in the LinkedIn mentorship program allowed me to strike a balance between daily responsibilities and educational efforts, providing guidance not only to junior designers but also to those seeking to expand their skillsets. Topics covered included process and product thinking, effective communication, stakeholder management, and file organization.
We grew content creation via modernization & new tools
We revitalized corporate engagement through a share box overhaul, leading to significant growth in a challenging metric. Initiated the development of comprehensive Figma Kits/libraries at the pillar level, widely adopted within the design organization. Actively mentored fellow designers in collaboration, infra/systems design, and product planning, providing both formal and informal guidance. Demonstrated an inclusive approach by catering to individuals with diverse working styles, disabilities, and interests.
To close this out, I want to thank my colleagues, friends, and leads for helping me grow as a designer and at the same time helping me gain a few friends along the way. Shout out to the Infra and design systems teams for their collaboration on feed, and props to my core design team who I love and adore working with. Even bigger props to my immediate Sharing team — Howie, Hemant, and Doug for powering through for as long as we did.
I was fortunate to contribute to a diverse range of projects, and the enhancement of several key features and components within LinkedIn. Notable projects included the Sharebox Guider, Visibility Redesign, Main Feed Page Sharing, Web and Mobile Sharebox Redesign, Feed & Feed Sharebox Redesign, Polls, Comment Controls, Sticky Visibility, and the implementation of WGAC AA support, each playing a crucial role in refining and optimizing the user experience on both web and mobile platforms.