LinkedIn Invites: How not to make your users feel like stalkers My experience withdrawing a LinkedIn…
Product & UX Design, Assistant Vice President @ Citibank Innovation Lab
I was browsing through LinkedIn on the mobile app and accidentally tapped “Connect” on someone’s profile. Oh no! I wanted to withdraw my invitation right away. The next thing I know, I’m spending the next hour trying to figure out how to do that and wondering if I was missing something. So I went back to take rough screenshots of everything so you can follow along.
Empathy is important to understanding users holistically.
— Shlomo Goltz, User Researcher at Hearsay Social
It feels like I’m making myself vulnerable. This is because maybe it should’ve just taken me a few seconds to accomplish this task. It’s not like I’m proud that I spent so much time on this and struggled with something that sounds like it would be easy. However, this is what you may find with your users who get frustrated. Here’s my experience and I hope there is something you can take away from it.
I needed to do this so teams out there can go through this struggle with me and see what it’s like when users get stuck. So please be nice if you thought the answer to this issue was obvious. Empathy, a key component of design thinking and user experience, involves identifying with what I am feeling and actually feeling those feelings yourself.
If you’ve stumbled upon this page looking for the answer to how to withdraw a LinkedIn invitation you sent on a mobile app, check out Managing Invitations on the LinkedIn Mobile App.
Usability answers the question, “Can the user accomplish their goal?”
— Joyce Lee, Human Factors Design at Apple
After struggling for a bit to figure out how to withdraw the invitation, I asked my friend if he knew how to do it. “It shouldn’t take long,” I assured him. “I’m sure there’s something simple I’m just missing!” He pulled out his phone to help by trying to figure it out as well. We removed each other on LinkedIn and tried to send invitations to reconnect. Here’s what happened:
Withdrawing a LinkedIn Invitation
Experience on the iOS
I watched my friend try to connect with me on LinkedIn, and then try to withdraw his invitation. Then I watched him tap “pending” several times and get frustrated after nothing happened.
When my friend got the last screen, he:
- Tapped “Pending” 3 times
- Tapped “Share via…”
- Tapped “back”
- Tapped “Pending” twice
- Tapped the home button on his iPhone twice
- Opened Safari
- Typed in “how to cancel linkedin invitation”
- Clicked “Withdrawing an Invitation | LinkedIn Help”
- Looked at the page
- Put down his phone
I watched my friend turn to Google for assistance and then arrive a Help page from LinkedIn. However, he got frustrated when he noticed that the screenshot on the Help page was not for mobile (even though the steps were very similar anyway).
Experience on Android
We were puzzled and thought it would be helpful to check this out on Android to see if it was easier. We recreated the first few steps of sending an invitation through looking at the options to cancel the invitation. This time, the original “Connect” button was replaced with a disabled “Pending” button. We clicked the “Options” icon to see if we can withdraw the invitation but didn’t see that option there.
We tried to do the same thing on Android. We sent an invitation to connect and then tried to withdraw the invitation.
Unfollowing People on LinkedIn
We played around with “unfollowing” people because we thought this behavior would be similar to “connecting.” It seemed pretty easy to unfollow on LinkedIn. The “unfollow” option appeared close to where you originally tap “follow.” However, we didn’t see “connect” working in the same manner.
It seems like you can follow and unfollow people pretty easily.
Requests that Require Approval
I wondered if LinkedIn treats invitations this way perhaps because the other member needs to approve them.
So I checked out Facebook and Instagram. Both are two other popular social media platforms that have similar usage rates and users, and an approval system. I wanted to do a quick-and-dirty comparison. On Facebook, all friend requests need to be approved. On Instagram, you approve requests only if you requested your Instagram to be private.
Facebook lets you cancel the request in the search results and on that member’s profile
The screens on Facebook to send a friend request and then cancel the request. You can do this on both the list of search results and on the person’s profile.
(I would prefer there to be more a visual difference between the first and second screen though to make it more obvious that a friend request was sent.)
Instagram lets you cancel the request on that member’s profile
The screens on Instagram to send a request to follow someone, and then cancel the request. You can do this on the person’s profile.
(I like the change in the button background color from blue to white.)
The Ah-ha Moment
Luckily, I was able to find Managing Invitations on the LinkedIn Mobile App after I Googled “withdraw linkedin invitation mobile.” I know, maybe that should’ve been the first thing I Googled. But hey, we all do things differently.
Turns out, the solution is similar to what appeared on the Withdrawing an Invitation | LinkedIn Help but it didn’t have a screenshot of LinkedIn on a desktop. So I went into the “My Network” Tab > “See all 9” > “Sent” Tab > “Withdraw” (see below screenshots) Then I realized that the blank screen meant that I must’ve withdrawn my invitation successfully and that I had no more left to withdraw. Cool.
I went into the “My Network” Tab > “See all 9” > “Sent” Tab > “Withdraw” to withdraw the invitation.
Like with any app, there is always room for improvement. Design is not a once-and-done thing. I am not going to do an unsolicited redesign here but I would like to make some notes based on my experience trying to withdraw a LinkedIn invitation. Granted, this is based on my own personal experience and I’d love to hear if anyone else has shared this experience.
1. Validate your hypothesis of where users expect to withdraw invitations
The user expects to see interface controls near what they want to control. Find out or validate your hypothesis of where this is. Maybe it’s in multiple locations, like in the case of Facebook. I wondered if the ability to withdraw invitations is located in “My Network” because LinkedIn felt that these pending requests are potentially part of my network? So that’s where I should go to manage them? I see pending invitations I need to approve so I can see why someone might expect to see pending invitations they sent out there. Is that the only location users might expect to see this ability to withdraw invitations?
Does the app’s conceptual model match the user’s mental model? If the conceptual model is designed to reflect just one mental model when there are multiple user groups, then the other users will find the app hard to learn and use.
As a designer, I try to keep the “undo” equivalent close to the original function in case a user makes a mistake or changes his mind. Then I test my hypothesis.
Asking users to adopt new behaviors or even modify their existing behaviors is very, very hard.
— Khoi Vin, VP of UX at Wildcard
2. Make the help page relevant to device the user is on viewing it
If I’m on mobile, I might expect to see a LinkedIn Help page with a screenshot relevant to my device. If they are going to show me that (not ideal), then can there at least be a screenshot or link on that page for what to do when I’m on mobile or the mobile app? Luckily, I found Managing Invitations on the LinkedIn Mobile App after I Googled more specifically: “withdraw linkedin invitation mobile.”
This is the Help page we came across from LinkedIn.
3. Make clearer which links are active vs. disabled
Can you tell before tapping that nothing will happen when you tap “Pending”?
On iOS, make the “Pending” link clickable if you’re going to make it look like all the rest of the links. Otherwise, make sure there’s enough of a difference to show the user that you can’t click that link. If you can’t click that link, include a note explaining the criteria for use so that we’re not stuck.
4. Make sure feedback on an action is clear
I saw a blank screen after I withdrew my one and only pending invitation. I realized that the blank screen meant that I got my desired result. But is there another way to show me that my invitation was successfully withdrawn other than it disappearing? Is there another way besides to inform me that I have no more invitations I can withdraw? Maybe a little note about how I have none?
Again: if you want to withdraw a LinkedIn invitation you sent on a mobile app, check out Managing Invitations on the LinkedIn Mobile App.
Luckily, I don’t need to withdraw invitations too often. However, I hope that next time, I can rely on recognition of the interface functions as opposed to trying to recall how to withdraw the invitation or Googling instructions. In the real world after the team comes up with ideas to a problem, they will put their ideas down in a tangible form to share with users. Then they can conduct testing and revise their designs accordingly.
Hopefully my struggle was entertaining to some of you. As I mentioned, I wanted share this with you in hopes that some of you can empathize with me or take something away from this. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and see if anyone has been in a similar situation!
At the end, my friend asked, “Wait, so can you accept my LinkedIn request?”