LinkedIn Classmates

A Six-day Design Challenge for LinkedIn

 

I completed this design challenge in spring 2015 for a summer internship application.

The Prompt

LinkedIn is a place where people can connect to people they know, in order to share professional experience and opportunities. Professional networking can begin at any point, even in school. Increasingly, students are relying on their mobile address book, and not their email address book, to manage their contacts. 

Design an experience that helps college students discover and connect to their classmates, without relying on email.


Research

I first reached out to college students of different ages, majors, and universities with an online survey. With around 30 responses, I was able to get a better understanding of their experience using LinkedIn and how they connect with their classmates. Here are the results.

Interviews

I had more in-depth conversations with college students about my questions after the survey. Here are a few insights I heard:

I think my classmates will be useful connections in the future because there are so many smart people at my school who will do great things.
— Stanford University Sophomore
LinkedIn is the most useful to me when I am looking for a specific job. Otherwise, it seems mostly geared towards professionals.
— Carnegie Mellon University Sophomore
I usually find connections by looking under the ‘People You May Know’ section because it’s easy. There isn’t a strong incentive to actively look for people.
— Tufts University Junior

USER PERSONA

Alex is a college sophomore. He has a LinkedIn account but only logs on occassionally because he believes LinkedIn is for professionals. Many of his connections are his classmates because they are his immediate community. He predicts these connections will be valuable in the future, but they probably won’t get him a job now. He sees no clear incentive to seek them out, instead, he passively waits for them to connect with him, or for LinkedIn to recommend connections.

 

Concept Development

I decided on a mobile experience because 1) College students are rarely without their phones, 2) They can connect with each other through their mobile address book, 3) They need an incentive to use LinkedIn on mobile, 4) The mobile application lacks a focus on education.

The Result

LinkedIn Classmates is a feature that allows LinkedIn users from the same universities and graduating classes (as indicated on their profiles) to gather in one place. It is specifically geared towards current students.