Dear LinkedIn: UI help desperately needed

Don’t ever get behind on your LinkedIn connection requests — erh, invitations — because the interface will rudely shove you away, screaming. (You’ll be screaming. Not your computer.)

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And it would take only a teeny tiny change to reduce a significant portion of the friction.

The scenario

You’ve received an invitation to connect from someone who seems only vaguely familiar.

When you mouseover the person’s name on the pending invitations page, LinkedIn generates a pop-up that shows you the second-degree connections. In this example, there are 19.

LinkedIn Invitation
Figure 1. LinkedIn Invitation To Connect; 19 connections


This visual reminder may be enough to trigger your memory. So you click “Connect”  and prepare to move on to the next invitation.

But LinkedIn will not connect you.

It wanted you to select “Accept” from a drop down  menu,  a drop down that is not only relatively useless, it is invisible because this invitation was the first on the list. The popup covers the “Accept” option.

You’re presented with this:

LinkedIn Invitation
Figure 2: LinkedIn treats your request as unsolicited.


This isn’t the only time that LI surprises.

Sometimes there is only one connection shown or maybe there are none. If you select “View Profile” in that circumstance, you are again in for a rude surprise if you decide to then accept the invitation.

LinkedIn Invitation
Figure 3. LinkedIn Invitation with no connections visible.


Even though there are no shared connections, you can tell from the job title or description that you might have met this person. So you click “View Profile.” At this point, LinkedIn replaces your InBox page of invitations with that person’s profile.

LinkedIn Profile
Figure 4: The top of a LinkedIn profile


Ah, you think. I do know this person! I met him at <blank> conference.

So you now click “Connect” — after all, you’re responding to his invitation. LinkedIn knows this; it just sent you to his profile page from his invitation to connect. 

But LinkedIn’s website is stupid.

It doesn’t acknowledge that your click originated from an invitation, so it assumes you are the initiator.

LinkedIn Invitation
Figure 5: LinkedIn treats your request as unsolicited.

The solution

This is an easy-to-solve UI/UX problem.

For scenario 1:simply make the choices on the popup reflect the state: change the “Connect” button to “Accept.”

Edited LinkedIn Invitation
Figure 6: Change the “Connect” button to an “Accept” button, which accurately reflects the state: responding to an invitation to connect.


For scenario 2: when the referrer to a profile comes from an invitation to connect, pass that information to the webpage and change the response options on the profile page. Again, change the “Connect” button to “Accept.”

Revised LinkedIn Profile
Figure 7: Change the “Connect” button to an “Accept” button, which accurately reflects the relationship between the two profiles.



To summarize, the LinkedIn website needs to do a better job of tracking the relationship between someone who has sent an invitation to connect and someone who has received said invitation.

Specifically, change the popup associated with the pending invitations: remove any reference to “connect” and replace it with “accept”.

This should be relatively straight forward to code: LinkedIn knows the relationship. However, it will not be enough to code this so that any request originating on the pending invitations page reflects this change. That’s because LinkedIn also includes recommendations (People you may know…) on the page.

This is an experiment in “just write it now, it will be good enough” UI critiques. Along with other UX/UI posts from WiredPen, it should be also be published at (but I’m woefully behind). Time start-to-finish: 61 minutes.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

3 replies on “Dear LinkedIn: UI help desperately needed”

Kathy, I’m not sure where it is exactly, but when LinkedIn suggests I connect with someone and I click there to send an invite, it fires off that generic invite without giving the option to personalize. I. HATE. THAT! I’ve had it happen enough that I never invite directly from suggestions now. If it suggests someone that I do want to connect with, I’ll start from a fresh search and invite them from their profile. Something makes me think the whole suggested invite thing has been modified recently, but I don’t trust it enough to test it. Bottom line, I expect the same invite behavior regardless of how the invite is initiated but it doesn’t work that way.

Another frustration that pops up frequently is easily modifying individual group settings. There is a page where you can pop down the list but I can never find it when I want it. Clicking into each group and modifying from there is such a hassle when doing account cleanup. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s not intuitive at all.

I’ve never noticed this particular behavior but there are other things LinkedIn does to make me crazy. Perhaps I’ve never seen this because I usually handle invites (and all LI communication) in my email vs. on the actual site?

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