beINSPIRED — UXDI Project 4
by Annie Cusick
Aristotle believed that everything and every being possess a unique potential.
I know. Potential. (Groan). That word is so overused nowadays that it’s lost its power…literally. But in fact, the word “potential” comes from the Latin word potentia, which literally means “power.”
When Aristotle said that “knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom,” he made his urging clear:
Take time to discover your power.
Students need ways to explore careers in order to find solid matches to their personalities and interests — before selecting a college or degree.
Of students graduating college in 2016 (source : allianzlife.com)
75% were in debt
45% of which now declare that college wasn’t worth the cost
33% say that if they were given the chance to begin again they would make a change of profession their top choice
The two most common answers millennial college graduates gave when asked “What’s the most important thing a college student can do to ensure they’ll have a job after graduation?” were: (Pew Research Center)
Gaining more work experience (50%)
Picking the right major — (30%)
So much unhappiness and regret stems from uninformed decisions made at critical points in our lives. One of the first, best, and cheapest things we can do to turn the tide is help students make data-savvy choices about college and careers. We want them to be smarter consumers of their own futures so that they stay engaged in college and choose careers that fit their strengths and interests.
The good news is that in this age of information, this is totally possible.
Explore a problem or area of opportunity for an existing brand, and integrate a new product into that existing brand.
Proposed Project & Initial Problem Statement
After being assigned the above prompt for our fourth UXDI project at General Assembly, my team and I immediately began brainstorming potential problems and opportunities that we were interested in exploring further. We ultimately came to a unanimous consensus that we wanted to pursue the following problem:
Teens need an interactive, fun way to learn how their interests can best be matched by the wide range of jobs available today in a way that is personal and enjoyable in order to prepare them for their professional futures.
Our proposed solution was as follows:
A responsive website, designed for The Muse, that would function as a ‘choose your own adventure’ interactive story game for young adults to provide them with career guidance and advice.
Parent Company : The Muse
The Muse is an online, career-resource-center aimed at helping Millenials and older professionals find their perfect job.
According to their website, The Muse strives to be “the most beloved, trusted career destination in the world.”
The services they offer include:
- Job opportunities with hundreds of companies including Facebook, Dropbox, Zappos, Slack, Vanguard, Goldman Sachs, Marriott, The Gap, HBO, Conde Nast, Bloomberg…
- Useful career advice from prominent experts
- Unique, interesting articles on a wide array of career-related subjects
- Access to career coaches who offer personalized and private career help
We thought that a youthful company like The Muse would be the perfect parent company to our proposed new site, because of it’s positive reputation with Millienials and it’s national outreach. It feels clean, fresh and new when compared to dull, bureaucratic career sites, such as the D.O.E.
Tapping into the teen market to help younger generations discover different career paths early on would be a natural extension for a company like The Muse that is already so focused on finding people jobs that they love. It’s also a great opportunity to get teens familiar with the brand when they are still young, so that when they do grow-up & eventually graduate, The Muse will be the first place that they go to start their job hunt.
Meet The Users
To understand our user’s needs, behaviors & pain points, we interviewed:
16 subjects : 9 Female, 7 Male
Age range: 14–21
Key Questions Asked:
- What’s the most frustrating thing about deciding what to do for work after finishing school?
- Do you already know what you’d like to do for work after you finish school?
- If you have already thought about what your future career will be can you explain in a few steps how you figured it out?
- Do you use any websites to learn more about careers? If so, which have been helpful to you/which didn’t you like and why?
- Does your school guidance councilor help you in deciding what you’d like to do for a career?
- What are your favorite games and/or websites?
63% of users said the thing they are most concerned about where the jobs will be in the future and which ones will pay well.
The most frustrating thing is knowing where the money and jobs are going to be when I graduate.
69% of users said they are looking more to figure out what they are good at/enjoy FIRST, and THEN want to explore different career paths (they are NOT looking for one specific career).
“I thought about what I was good at and what I liked, and googled careers that might fit. I like thinking of my future in terms of a path as opposed to “you should be a doctor.” Instead I like when it says “You would probably enjoy something in the Science fields” and then lets you explore all the options for yourself.”
75% of users only “kind of” know what they want to do for a career.
According to a study done by analytics company, Gallup:
Only 30% of American workers are engaged, involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.
Which means a whopping 70% of American’s in today’s work force are not engaged in their jobs and have not reached their full potential or found their calling.
Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.
When students make uninformed decisions about what they want to do in life and pick colleges and degrees without a sound strategy, they become these employees that are uninspired by their work and burdened with debt.
They need to be a lot more thoughtful and deliberate as they choose their college or post-high school training.
Imagine planning a trip or buying a house just by crossing your fingers and hoping it works out. This is the approach many students currently take as they get closer to college and career. They choose a college and a degree on a whim with no inkling what they will do with it. They choose a career that doesn’t suit them, or they choose the right one too late and spend six years switching majors.
They frequently make big decisions about their future without consulting the data first, and enroll without looking at potential outcomes.
During out competitive analysis, we looked at 5 other major career guidance sites and discovered that NOT ONE of them has successfully tapped into the teen market.
While many of our competitors did offere assessments to help users narrow down their career choices, they were all long, wordy, and very quiz like. You can see in the example above from My Next Move, there are 60 questions that user has to get through to explore career options!!
Many of the sites we looked at were also incredibly wordy and text heavy. They made the career hunt seem like a chore or a homework assignment — not something that was fun or interesting.
- There is a TON of information out there and available to the public in terms of career advice and guidance.
- NOT ONE user we interviewed uses of had used any of these sites or resources for career help.
With all this information out there, there has to be a better way to present it so that teens can benefit from it and use it to make more informed decisions earlier on in life.
With a clear problem and goal in mind, our team began the ideation process in order to bring our concept to life : a choose your own adventure story that results in unique, individualized career options for teens.
First, we decided on a responsive website over an application because a responsive site allows for consistent user experience across all devices. Since this is essentially an educational tool, we thought a website would be better suited for our users so they could use it on a desktop in a school setting, or on their mobile device when they aren’t in school.
In terms of style, we decided to keep the same font that The Muse uses, but we changed up the colors to better serve our target demographic. We wanted colors that were bright, bold and engaging to teens.
Orange was the first color we chose because it’s often associated with innovation, creativity, thinking and ideas — all things we were hoping to invoke in our users.
Our secondary color was Deep Teal — The Muse uses a lot of blues and greens, so we thought it was a way to both tie in the parent site’s brand identity, and compliment the new orange color we had settled on.
We thought about the structure of the site, and how it would be laid out, and created a site-map to help us visualize everything from a high-level first.
And we also used user flows to help anticipate the needs of our users, and to visualize how they would go through the site.
Using all of the above tools, we were able to build our first set of low-fidelity wire frames and begin user testing.
User Testing & Iteration Round 1
For our first round of user testing, we asked two users (one male, one female) to imagine that they were uncertain about what they wanted to do as a career when they graduate from college. We asked them to use our website to move through the story/assessment and then to explore their individualized career results.
While both users found the concept of the website enjoyable, interesting and refreshing:
“This is a great idea! I wish they had something like this when I was in high school.”
“I love this idea!!! I’ve never seen anything like it, most career websites are so boring and feel like a test. This is great!”
…there were definitely a few bumps along the road that we needed to address.
One of the main problems both users had was distinguishing buttons from input fields. We addressed the issue by taking away the boarder, and changing the text color so that on input field’s it would be grey, and on buttons it would be black.
They also commented on how they would like the numbers at the top to stay highlighted when they completed a decision so we fixed that as well, and they didn’t love the images we used so we decided to try using one image throughout the story to make it look cleaner.
Users also told us they didn’t think they would want to save or like a career path so that feature was removed. They were both confused on the final page of what they were supposed to do next, or how they could explore more careers, so buttons were added to solve the confusion.
User Testing & Iteration Round 2
After we corrected all of the issues users commented on during the first round of testing, we updated our wire frames to high-fidelity, and tested three more users, giving them the same scenario as the first group.
Again, 100% of users commented about how they really liked the concept of this website and told us it was something they would use and find helpful & entertaining.
2/3 Users did comment that some of the wording in the story still made it feel like a quiz.
2/3 Users commented that they would like more interactive elements in the site such as videos.
During our second round of iterations, we changed the wording of the story and added videos instead of pictures on the specific career pages. We also turned the “technology” list into clickable link so users could further explore, watch tutorials and download software.
Presenting Our Design
With all the final changes put into place, our two weeks were up and it was time to present our design idea to two industry professionals whether we were ready to or not. While the overall presentation went very well, (they LOVED the problem we chose & agreed it was about time somebody got in there and did something creative to solve it), there were a few areas that they told us could be improved upon for re-submission.
- They thought the story could be shortened — A LOT! Since one of the main pain points users found in competitors sites was that there was too much text, they didn’t think it made sense for ours to be as text heavy as it was.
- The site was not visual enough. They believed it looked too clean and something that adults would like, but our target demographic probably wouldn’t. Specifically they told us “It looks like something adults who are trying to be cool would make for teenagers.”
- A writer would have to be hired to write the stories which would cost additional money.
- The psychology behind the test would have to be validated — a lawyer would probably have to be hired.
This was by-far my favorite style of presenting up to date. It was really useful to get feedback from industry professionals and to be able to confidently converse about design decisions and defend the decisions we made.
It was really interesting as well that a lot of the suggestions they made were actually in line with what we had originally wanted to create. We wanted something very visually engaging with very little text and somehow that got lost in the process.
I’m really looking forward to re-visiting this project with my teammates to implement these changes.