LinkedIn Groups got a makeover this week, along with and its first-ever iOS mobile app. Some of the changes are extensions and modernizations of existing features, but other improvements could help Groups members keep the ideas and conversation flowing.
The professional social network recently made some policy changes to Groups, and it is now following up with an iOS app and new look and feel for the desktop experience. Some longtime Groups users see the redesign as a welcome change, while others are unimpressed.
People with common interests have connected on LinkedIn Groups for more than a decade. After it launched in 2004, the feature quickly became one of the platform's most popular, fastest-growing and widely adopted offerings.
[Related Opinion: 4 things we love about LinkedIn Groups]
LinkedIn Groups' new features and a fresh, bright look
LinkedIn Groups members can now add images to their posts and mention other users. The company says it cut back on clutter, spam and promotional content within Groups. The navigation panel is also simpler, and LinkedIn significantly increased the amount of open space on the pages.
The design changes are among the most notable tweaks to LinkedIn Groups. "The clean layout made it easier to find the Groups I'm regularly participating in each day," says Lisa Rangel, managing director at ChameleonResumes.com and moderator of a job seeker Group with more than 450,000 members.
The posting process on desktop remains mostly the same, but the iOS app experience improved, according to Rangel. "Information is more accessible and interacting with Group members seems easier," she says, adding that a 50-Group-per-user limit also appears to have been removed.
Pratibha Vuppuluri, founder of data analytics firm KeyInsite, says the redesigned interface is "fresh and welcoming," but he'd still like to see a more efficient process for Group members to cultivate work opportunities. Discussions are already embedded into LinkedIn Groups, but Vuppuluri says they could be more actionable and meaningful.
"A lot of these changes are in many ways simply a next generation of functionality that already existed in some form or another, though made more intuitive for new users to help increase adoption and usage frequency," says Erik Mason, senior manager of public relations at Zerto, an enterprise disaster recovery firm.
LinkedIn Groups' underwhelming update
Despite LinkedIn's lofty claims of major improvements and a commitment to cutting down on the amounts of spam users see in their Groups, some members still aren't impressed.
"These changes really don't offer anything major in terms of improvements beyond sharing of images," Mason says. "The promise of less spam? I can't say I've seen anything of the sort."
[Related Opinion: 3 things we hate about LinkedIn Groups]
"So far, the changes are neither good nor bad," says Charles Krugel, a labor and employment lawyer who started a LinkedIn Group in 2009 that now has nearly 3,000 members. "I don't think that LinkedIn has addressed all of the changes that need to be made, but this new version of Groups seems to be on the right track."
LinkedIn's Group management functions continue to have a number of incongruences, according to Krugel. Mason concurs, adding that Group moderation needs to be completely retooled to adequately support the most active and helpful Group moderators.
"I'd love to see something that's almost a voting system where moderators are nominated or chosen based on Group majority, since that would reward those who truly do give substantive value to other members," says Mason.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.