How to design a UI that's ignored by everyone

AKA: I blame Google

I've been using LinkedIn recently. LinkedIn is like Myspace for career networking, but it's got so many design problems that their various UI components battle each other gladiator-style for the honor of pissing me off.

I was using it the other night, looking in vain for the the list of contacts that is displayed with most profiles. I knew it was there because I had seen it before. I was simply missing it. Finally, after perhaps 10 minutes of searching on the page and looking for options that might hide/show them, I saw it:

LinkedIn example
Sitting right next to the long list of text ads by Google was the long list of Contacts. Click here to see a screen capture of it.
My mind had completely tuned both columns out. I just thought that the column of contacts was just another Google ad, I guess.

I remember the good old days, where online ads flickered brightly and the goal was often to punch a monkey in the face with a wireless spy camera. It was easy to tell the difference between the ads and the content. But Google Ads changed all that. They've made ads just as boring and plain as the content itself. Google actually makes it easy to customize an ad to look just like your website. Damn them!

But of course, LinkedIn is totally in control of the look and feel of their website, including the color and placement of their ads. So at the end of the day I don't really blame Google. And for the record I don't blame LinkedIn's UI designer either. The UI designer is only a small part of the development equasion and I have zero insight into the inner workings of the LinkedIn offices.

The moral of the story is that formatting data in a similar way to Google ads is a good way to have users ignore it. And placing that data right next to a real Google ad doesn't help.

EDIT: Thanks To Jason Untulis for letting me use his LinkedIn profile in my examples.

Feedback - 6 responses

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Harry wrote:   
Hanford - I couldn't agree more. On, the ads are very, very easy to tell apart from the content. So you choose to look at them only if you want to. Designers should maintain this as a goal on their own sites when using adwords. By disguising the ads as content, you risk users not identifying the content as content, or not identifying the ads as ads. Either way they are going to be frustrated and think less of your site.
Brandon wrote:   
Here is another annoying 'google ads' website for you:

The Ads are actually more prominent then the content. I guess the more google ads you have the higher your google search ranking. The only thing this site has to offer is other links to other sites with google ads that link to other sites with google ads and so on.....
Hanford wrote:   
me fixed broken linkedin link.
Jason Geiger wrote:   
You linkedin link is broken.
Arjun wrote:   
Thanks for the insight. Linkedin is out !!! nothing is IN ??? What's next ???
Arjun Shiroor wrote:   
I need desperately to do some effective network marketing. I am networking for a company " GOLDQUEST " . Tell me ; How am I going to recrute people ( NETWORKERS ) into my networking team. Where am I supposed to Join in " Linkedin " which FORM ??? and what type of information do you need. I WANT THE WORKS !!!

reply please !!!

Arjun Shiroor

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