Improving usability for millions of job seekers
USAJOBS.gov is the U.S. federal government's official website for listing civil service job opportunities. The site receives anywhere from 13 to 17 million visits every month.
Our team was given the challenge of completing a total redesign of the site. We started by simplifying how to upload documents and resumes in order to complete a personal profile. The job seeker typically fills out this information after they've found a job they're interested in applying to.
- – Individual interviews, including extreme users
- – Affinity diagramming
- – Card sorting
- – Usability testing, including hallway testing
- – Cognitive model walk-through
- – User journey mapping
I joined the LAB @ OPM team as a Design Strategist at the end of the affinity diagraming phase. I helped translate researching findings into diagrams and presentations that could help OPM leadership understand why the site needed to change and how to do so through redesigning elements of the site. I also prototyped features and interactions on both low and high fidelity mockups. I facilitated usability tests with a variety of different groups, from current military personnel on base at Ft. Belvoir to local students at George Washington University.
In addition to the LAB @ OPM design team, we worked with the USAJOBS Product Management Office. Their team hired a local contractor, Excella, who provided support creating an agile development process by providing a scrum master and project manager.
- Job seekers are likely to abandon the job search process when they are unable to understand the process they must complete. To address this issue, we created an application tracking tool that allows job seers to understand where they are in the job application and what steps they need to complete.
- Users had difficulties attaching, viewing and deleting resumes and other documents needed to apply without abandoning the application process. To address this issue, our team created and tested a variety of interfaces and interactions to help job seekers better understand how to manage their documents within USAJOBS, including building, editing or deleting a resume. We also ensured that applicants could easily save their progress on a pending job application.
- Job seekers were unsure what their final job application included, so the new USAJOBS allows users to review their final application before submitting it.
Our team created a variety of early prototypes to quickly test our ideas on how to manage documents related to job applications. We first used paper prototyping, and moved to quickly test in Balsamiq. We used this tool because not everyone on the team was skilled at visual design tools like Adobe Creative Suite and Sketch, and we wanted to validate early ideas.
As we refined our features and interactions, our UI style guide, created by Kyhry Taylor, and later merged with the USA Web Design System standards, was applied.
We added a variety of features to the first roll out. Because it was early in the process, we added walk through elements to orient users to the new interface.
We wanted to help job seekers understand where they were in the process of submitting their application. Adding a list of steps prominently at the top of the page was one solution we incorporated to help improve abandonment rates that were uncovered during the research process.
We also added a simple overview of completed or in-progress resume. We eliminated the need to go through the entire resume to make a small change or tweak to a particular job while the job seeker is putting together a resume. There is another interface (not shown here) that allows to review the entire resume and contents of the job application package before it's sent for review.
As you can see from this more recent walk-through from the site below, some of our initial ideas didn't work as planned and were improved upon.
Having users navigate content on the right rail made it easy to overlook and more complicated for mobile users to navigate. A new iteration of the site has moved the navigation to the left side of site and completely removed the use of accordions and added icons.
Despite the changes, many elements of the initial resume builder, as seen in the early prototypes, remain in use.
I'm always delighted to revisit the USAjobs.gov to see the current improvements made to the site, now led by designer Matt Dingee.
Press + Impact
The initial changes to the site were well received and caught the attention of a variety of media outlets, including the Washington Post, Federal Times and ABC-7.
Program Manager for USAjobs, Michelle Earley, recorded a video for OPM about the initial changes made to the site.