Case Study: Lookout
A New Way to Job Search
Because of COVID-19 the US has a very high unemployment rate, and job seekers are looking for any job to fit their needs, but most job seekers would not consider a gig-economy job. I hoped to find a way to bring gig-economy jobs to the forefront of job seekers’ attention.
For my research, I sent out a survey on LinkedIn to my network and various networking groups for unemployed individuals. My survey focused on asking questions about how current people search and apply for open jobs, and what they look for in a job. I was shocked that 47% of the individuals who took the survey said that they would not be interested in a gig-economy position, even though of all the attributes of a position that people look for the most flexible schedule and autonomy ranked as the top 2. There were also about 3% of people who took the survey who said they weren’t even aware of what a gig-economy position was.
To conduct further research, I interviewed 4 people who were all either unemployed or seeking additional employment. During my interviews, all 4 of my participants mentioned they had no clue what a gig-economy position was, and then after they were told, they were not opposed to the idea. The main setback for the participants was that they were unaware of how to apply for those roles as they do not appear on your traditional job search sites, and there isn’t much transparency in those roles about how pay works. Another interesting fact that was mentioned by all 4 of my participants was their frustrations with popular job searching apps when it comes to understanding what happens to their application after being submitted. One of my participants said that it felt like you “throw your application into the void and hope you hear something back.”
After doing this research both my problem, and persona became very apparent. The reason that more people don’t consider gig economy roles is because either a) people don’t have a full understanding of what a gig-economy role is and its benefits of it or b) because they don’t normally appear on traditional job-seeking websites. It also became apparent that as a job seeker, it is hard to find and apply for jobs that align with what your top needs as an employee are and to know what happens after you submit an application on current job searching platforms. Using this data from both my survey and my interviews, I was able to create a strongly identifiable persona for my solution.
Job searching websites and apps are a dime a dozen nowadays, so it was really important to make sure my solution provided a different value to the user than what current offerings have. I also decided to solely focus on the job seekers in my designs vs focusing on both the job seekers and the companies posting jobs. I used the data that I collected from both my survey results and the interviews to brainstorm ideas.
To construct what made this site different, I built out a user story map with the goals I created from my persona. The solution was to create an assessment, with questions similar to what a headhunter or recruiter would ask you, to find positions that met your needs as a job seeker vs just searching by job title or location.
The design for the app is mainly centered around the assessment. Luckily for me, my background before going into UX was as a corporate recruiter and headhunter, so I used skills from my previous career to help me build out the assessment. The goal was to build an assessment that would narrow down a candidate’s top needs and then rank open jobs against those top needs. So as a candidate, the first jobs you would see would be the jobs aligned most closely with what is important to you as an employee. I decided to go with a grading system similar to what most individuals are used to in a school setting, to help determine how closely a job would align with the user’s top needs, A+ to A- for a perfect match, B+ to C+ for a good match, and C to F for unaligned matches. I also wanted to add a section where users could check on the status of their submitted applications in their profile to understand what step of the process they are in. For most of the other visual elements, I was able to pull inspiration from already existing job application sites. I put pen to paper and did some sketching using the 10X10 method, and then began to build out low-fidelity wireframes.
Once I had designed the majority of my screens as low-fidelity wireframes I used Invision to prototype and test my screens. My testing was done in a more formal environment, having the users test 6 user flows:
- Sign up and apply for a job
- Log out and log back in as an existing user
- Save a job, then find all saved jobs and apply for one
- Find your assessment results
- View your application status
- Find where you would upload your resume
The testing turned out to be really insightful on how to better improve user flows. There also was a lot of confusion for my testers about what made this app different than any other job-hunting site. As much as I thought I had put an emphasis on the assessment and the reasoning for it and what it would do, it didn’t seem to stick with the user. This caused me to change the initial sign up flow to allow for an explanation of the assessment before the user is prompted to take it.
High Fidelity to Final Design
After doing a few more tests with my low-fidelity screens, I moved on to creating my high-fidelity prototypes. For my design style guide, I wanted to keep it minimal and professional. Most of the job search sites I researched have a 3 color scheme, with white and near black being the main colors with an accent of a bright primary or secondary color. I decided to stick with a similar color scheme and chose green as my main accent color, along with white and near black. My goal as to keep the design really clean, fresh, and professional.
The creation of high-fidelity screens is where I spent the bulk of my time. I made the majority of screens including feedback screens, which took about a week to complete. I got feedback on my designs from my peer group as well as professors and was able to make some changes to spacing to allow for more white space, and functionality, like adding a search bar on the main screen so that users could still search for a certain job title or company if they want to. The outside perspective was really helpful and allowed me to take a step back and really understand what I thought the minimal viable product was, and what it actually needed to be.
After completing the high fidelity screens I did another round of testing, this time it was much more informal, but was able to test on users very close to my persona. I received really great feedback, and it confirmed that a lot of the changes I had made to the user flows were good choices.
This project was my first ever real dive into the world of UX and going from a problem to creating and building out a solution. I really learned a lot about how important your research is in a project and how the research you do really can shape the solution you come up with. If I am being candid, I felt like the research that I did, didn’t necessarily support the problem I was given: how can we help underemployed/unemployed individuals find, compare and manage various gig-economy jobs. The research I did lead more to help unemployed/underemployed individuals find any position, not necessarily focusing on gig economy positions. I also underestimated the number of screens I needed to make so that I could successfully prototype and test my product.
Overall I am extremely happy and proud of the work I did on Lookout, and with my previous career as a recruiter, it was a project that I was passionate about. If I wanted to take a deeper dive into this project, I could also approach it from the employer’s side and how they would post jobs and be able to find candidates similarly that align with their company’s culture and values.
To view, the Lookout Prototype click here.