Mike Isaac

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LinkedIn’s Profile Refresh Is All About the Visuals — Just Like Other Social Giants

Asa Mathat / AllThingsD.com LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Chairman Reid Hoffman

Pictures still beat words.

LinkedIn unveiled a new profile page on Tuesday morning, tweaking many of the product’s key areas to emphasize data visualization, graphics and photos.

It’s not reinventing the wheel. Most of the changes are small tweaks in existing products — profile pictures are larger, network connections are visualized in slick circular graphs. The page is divvied up neatly, with a drop-down menu bar at the top, your personal information on the right-hand side and the left part of the page devoted to the stream.

The app, too, is more photo-centric, with large pictures anchoring the screen at the top, followed by a list of the most recent entries occurring in your network. Predictably, the iPad app looks more like a magazine to fit the form factor.

Much of this is incremental, and you’ve seen it over the past few months in slight tweaks to each section.

But step back and look at the bigger picture — LinkedIn’s refresh is yet another in a series of visual refreshes across social companies of late. Facebook led the charge about a year ago with its introduction of Timeline, essentially a yearbook-like way of viewing your profile. Last month, Twitter debuted its revamped profile pages, complete with large-format profile photos and easier in-stream picture viewing. Even Foursquare is trying to look better these days, making photos a larger focus inside the mobile app.

So what is it about the visual experience that is making all these social giants re-think their profiles? Are we just more inclined to come back to pretty things than we are words?

Well, yeah. Take a look at a recent ComScore report, which states that Instagram users return to the app more consistently and often on a daily basis than they do Twitter, despite the fact that Twitter has a higher amount of users signed up for the service.

Obviously LinkedIn can’t be all about photos; it’s not like you’re uploading pictures of your family vacation to your online resume. So LinkedIn focuses on making the data you’ve provided — like your job history, college days and the like — a whole lot prettier.

Will users spend more time using the new LinkedIn? Perhaps with the inclusion of promoted followers, more engagement-building tools like “endorsements,” and other small additions to product designed to keep you inside the LinkedIn network.

But like everyone else, LinkedIn knows that if the company wants their users to spend a lot of time using the product, at the bare minimum it has to look pretty.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo