Improving the Job Application Process Experience

Autopply
Web Application Design

Overview

This project was about creating something for the job applicants which would make the job search process less frustrating by minimize the time and efforts they are required to put into it. This was a year long project and I tried to implement all of my skills, right from user research to front-end development, from information architecture to business model generation and from user centered design to branding.

Industry Human Resources/Recruitment
My Role UX Researcher, IA, UX/UI Designer & Front-end Developer
Year 2017-18
Duration 12 months
  • The Challenge
  • Applicants already use a variety of web applications like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Gmail, etc., so the major challenge was to come up with a solution which won’t be an added task for them, something which would complement the current tools they were using. Another huge challenge was identifying the type of information which needed to be stored in the system and the most optimal way to collect and provide this information.
  • The Outcome
  • The end result was a combination of a web application and a browser plugin which helps the users store and access the information without having to waste their time manually storing and organizing data. The plugin helps the applicants save time by automating the data storage & scraping process, while the web application organizes and presents the information in a easy to access manner, so that the users get the right data at the right time.
Purpose of the Project

Why did I do it?

Being in my final year of masters, I started looking for job opportunities and so did my fellow classmates. While going through the process, I found keeping track of the job applications to be a very complex, laborious and time consuming task. There were a lot of tools for the company end of the process, but very few softwares fulfilling the applicant’s needs. So I decided to create something keeping the applicant’s pain points & goals in mind, while also implementing everything I had learnt during my masters program at Thomas Jefferson University.

Project Objectives
What were the deliverables?

The goal of this project was to solve the selected social issue, unemployment in my case, by finding solutions to tackle it through the medium of a digital product conceived through user research and other user experience design techniques. While coming up with this solution, we also had to keep in mind the business aspects & marketability of the product and define branding guidelines for it. Lastly a working prototype for this digital product, web application coupled with a browser plugin in this case, was to be developed by us.

The end product was a responsive web application which would act as a hub for all the information that the user needs.

Skills Applied
User Research

Extensive research including online search, surveys, user interviews & contextual inquiry was done in this project.

UX Design

Used various techniques such as site mapping, bluesky brainstorming and rapid validation to create the wireframes.

Front-end Development

Created a responsive single-page web application using AngularJS and Bootstrap.

Tools Used
Axure

Used it for creating the wireframes & the interactive prototype, which was used for user testing.

Photoshop

Used it for creating the visual mockups and other graphic elements such as the brand logo.

Usertesting

Used the online user testing tool to get valuable feedback at various stages of the design process.

Discover
Online research, preliminary interviews, contextual inquiry & 5 whys

I started the project by doing an online search on the extent of unemployment in US and found out that that though statistically the overall unemployment rate is low, newly graduates are finding it difficult to get jobs in their field of interest. Then I conducted to some preliminary interviews in my university which further cemented my point that students are finding it hard to get jobs. I then conducted contextual inquiry & the 5 whys technique to find the root cause of issues faced by the students. This helped me get a list of problems faced by them while searching for jobs.

If only there was something which would make this process of searching, applying & tracking less complicated, so that I can apply to more jobs.
Taylor Manson
(Recent graduate)

Source: Gen Z Report Accenture 2017

With so many job boards, students find it difficult to keep a track of all their applied jobs resulting in them losing out on opportunity.
Ainsley Maloney
(Director Industry Relations, Career Services Center, Thomas Jefferson University)
Define
Surveys, user interviews, personas & process mapping

Having found the application process to be one of the major contributor, I sent out surveys to find people who would fit my target user group. Then I interviewed the 12 shortlisted people and asked them to walk me through their process, while I noted down any point point which I could notice. With this data I mapped out the job application process, which consisted of three stages.

I asked the interviewees to show how they currently track their job applications.

I asked interviewees to show how they currently track their job applications.

A persona for my application

A persona for my application

The three stages of the application process

Ideate
Competitive analysis, bluesky brainstorming & solutions

Majority of my interviewees used a desktop to apply for jobs, so I decided to go with a web application as my product. To get ideas for my application, I studied a few competitors, looking at their pros and cons. Then I got another list of ideas trying to brainstorm solutions for the issues faced by the people I had interviewed. This lead me to my product concept of having a web applications with four sub-modules and a browser plugin to complement it.

There were few competitors in the market

Build
Sitemap, paper sketches, wireframes & interactive prototype

Based on the sitemap & the initial sketches, I started creating wireframes in Balsamiq, iterating them according to the feedback I got from users as well as other designers. After which I created the visual mockups in Photoshop which exhibited the color coding implemented in the app.

Wireframes created in Axure

Wireframes created in Axure

Wireframes created in Axure

Wireframes created in Axure

Validation & Testing
Usertesting with the Axure prototype

Validation was performed by showing the interactive prototype to my target users and getting feedback from them. I got a lot of feedback, which helped me iterate on the concept.

Axure Plugin Prototype Axure Dashboard Prototype
Iterate
Revised wireframes & visual designs

After few rounds of iteration, I ended up on the final version of wireframes, based on which I created the visual mockups in Photoshop. Did another iteration of the visual designs which brought me to the end of the design process.

Visual mockups created in Photoshop

Visual mockups created in Photoshop

Visual mockups created in Photoshop

Visual mockups created in Photoshop

Business Requirements & Branding
Business model canvas, logo and branding

This project also required us to think of the business aspect of the product, which I think was a really important, since it prevented us from designing something impractical & monetarily unfeasible. I created the business model canvas and also came up with the logo for branding & marketing.

The Business Model Canvas

Logo concept and iterations

Moodboard

Style guide and UI Library

Development
Translating the PSDs into code

Looking at the nature of the system, I decided to make it a single-page application with dynamic content, for which I used AngularJS 1.6.7. I also wanted the web application to be usable on all devices, irrespective of the screen size, so I made it responsive by implementing the Bootstrap framework.

Conclusion

What did I learn from it?

This project was a really good learning experience for me as I got the opportunity to put my almost all my skills & knowledge to use. The time frame of a year enabled me to try out new methods & techniques, the ‘Double Diamond Process’ being one of it. Getting to work on the entire research, design & development process, I gained crucial insights into the work done in each of these positions.

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