I have a free LinkedIn account, like a lot of people. I had an experience this morning that essentially says to me that LinkedIn thinks I’m dumb. Aside from the fact that I find that insulting, it points to a larger problem that I see repeatedly with online products and services. Here’s the scenario.

I read an interesting post this morning by Cara Quinlan of HFES; the screen looks like this:


I like what Cara is sharing, so I click on Cara’s name to see her profile, and I get this:


Notice the “sell” to upgrade my account: Upgrade for full name.

Are you kidding me? I just SAW her last name on the previous screen. And if you look closely, you will see her last name again in the “Current” field. So, uh…I want to upgrade because…what was the question again?

What’s problematic about this isn’t the obvious fact that no one is doing much thinking over at LinkedIn. The real problem is that an experience like this is essentially sending me, the user, this message:

Upgrading is an empty ploy to get your money, a desperate attempt to monetize the genie after it’s out of the box. It’s pointless and offers no value beyond what you already get for free.

Does that strike you as a strategically sound message to send to your potential customers? Would anyone consciously decide to send such a message?

Of course not. And I’m pretty sure LinkedIn isn’t aware of the mixed message they’re sending, or how they’re cutting their own knees out from under themselves. But when organizations don’t pay enough attention to UX and CX – when they pay more attention to features and functions and technology than to principles of sound interaction design – this is the result.

Every. Interaction. Counts. Every word. Every action. Every option. Every use scenario. Every single element on every screen is communicating something, intentionally or otherwise.

You send messages to the people who use your products via every single element on every screen; make sure they’re messages you actually want to send.