Business network LinkedIn starts improving its search interface

LinkedIn, a professional networking site, is starting to roll out a greatly revamped set of search features. Most significantly, the company is simplifying its interface so you can enter one search term and find the most relevant people from any network in LinkedIn. In the old version, you have to switch tabs in order to search for people in different networks.

The company has also refined its search algorithm so that search results are made more relevant based on the professional connections you and your contacts have made on the site.

As with many other features on the site, I still find LinkedIn’s search options more complex than necessary. For example, you still have to comb through a drop-down menu of tabs for searching any given feature of the site, such as “People” or “Jobs” or “Answers.” Why can’t I just see different kinds of search results through entering a keyword into a single box?

Still, the site’s redesign is getting better in a lot of ways. The new search results page provides a window of options for further refining your search query, a way to see how you’re connected to them through mutual contacts, and a way to take actions like messaging them directly from the page. Other improvements to search include a way to save search results for later reference, a way to see expanded info about people within search results, a results spell-checker, and an auto-fill recommendation list that shows you relevant names as you enter a keyword into the search box.

The new design has rolled out to a few users, but is letting more opt-in.

LinkedIn has become the most popular professional-focused, web-based, third-party application at companies in the U.S., according to a recent report by workplace security company FaceTime. Mountain View, Calif.-based LinkedIn recently raised $22.7 million at its previous valuation of around $1 billion — it plans to do an initial public offering at some point when the public markets improve.

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