LinkedIn overhauls its desktop website

The changes improve chat, search and several other features on the desktop

LinkedIn’s desktop interface is getting a fresh coat of paint. The professional social network unveiled Thursday the largest overhaul to the desktop version of its website since the service launched.

The redesign is all about bringing changes from the company’s mobile app to its desktop experience, according to Chris Pruett, LinkedIn’s senior director of engineering. Users will see a redesigned feed, tweaked profiles, new messaging capabilities and a revamped search box.

The company wants to unify the experience of using its desktop and mobile products, something that Pruett said LinkedIn’s most engaged users have been clamoring for. What’s more, the changes should make the product more useful and less cluttered.

Case in point: those incessant notifications that users saw in their desktop news feeds, encouraging them to congratulate a connection on a new job or wish someone a happy birthday have now been relegated to the redesigned notifications page. That page will give users the ability to see richer information at a glance, like who has been looking at their profile and job opportunities they might be interested in.

msg overlay LinkedIn

A screenshot shows LinkedIn's new messaging overlay.

One of the biggest improvements with the redesign is an update to the desktop messaging system. The Messaging Overlay, as LinkedIn calls it, floats on top of the social networking site, giving users easy access to IM conversations that they’re carrying out through the service.

Messaging on LinkedIn used to be a lot more like sending formal email messages, but the company has been moving away from that model and towards a more Facebook-esque instant messenger setup that focuses on letting users quickly connect with short missives.

It’s also capable of offering users contextual chat suggestions. For example, the chat overlay could suggest that users message their connections at a particular company when looking at that company’s job listings.

Users will also be able to use a new unified search box that gives them the opportunity to search almost all of LinkedIn in one place. Right now, users can find profiles, jobs, companies, groups and schools. In the future, the company will also add the ability to search posts.

To make all of this work, the new desktop experience is built on some of the same APIs that power the LinkedIn mobile app, so that it will be easier for the company to quickly roll out new features in the future.

The moves are aimed at boosting user engagement with LinkedIn on the desktop. Currently about 60 percent of the social network’s traffic comes from mobile, and 40 percent comes from the desktop web.

Thursday’s news comes just a few weeks after Microsoft closed its acquisition of the enterprise social networking company. Furthermore, it comes as Facebook tries to push further into the world of enterprise productivity with its Workplace product, which was made publicly available last year.

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