Re-imaging the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS) Global Website for the Digital Age.

The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey is one of the most trusted surveys of employment activity in the world. Every quarter, we ask more than 59,00 employers across 44 countries and territories about their hiring plans for the next three months. ManpowerGroup has been providing this valuable insight to greater business community for more than 55 years.

As impressive as the MEOS program is, the global MEOS website just has not kept up with todays digital demands. The data and insights that the program provides to the market are packaged in a legacy mindset that does not put the user first and ignores social networking and lead generation.

The site does not support multiple languages, does not provide a way to get to local country MEOS sites, keeps all the valuable content trapped in PDFs and unavailable for SEO.

Besides the functional issues, the content is too United States focussed, which puts off potential viewers in other countries. And to top it off, the only thing worth sharing on the site is the data explorer with it extremely dated look & feel.

Lead the MEOS network global and country managers through a robust User Centered Design workflow to more accurately identify users and what they want from a new global MEOS site. A site with a modern UI, multi-language support, with inline content for better SEO and most importantly, lets the user get to country results as quick as possible.

User Research

The global nature of MEOS provided some unique challenges. Because the end users are spread across the world, I directly engaged with internal network of country program managers that are responsible for driving MEOS efforts and collecting user feedback in the 44 countries and territories. I asked to complete a short user feedback survey. Out of the 44 country managers, 28 responded from 27 different countries. The global program manager also completed the survey to compare local vs global feedback.

100% of the responses indicated that MEOS is either very important or somewhat important to their marketing efforts.

Client are the most important user group for countries but Journalists are the most important for global.

28.6% of respondents rated the Data explorer as very important in a closed end multiple choice question but 39.3% identified it as a strength that needed to be elevated in comments.

Country need local level content more important than global content.

From the pool of survey participants, I conducted phone interviews with 7 country managers representing the Belgium, Australia, Singapore, Argentina, Spain, Finland and France. These markets represent a conscious effort to include both large and small operations with different levels of local resources. I also made sure that we represented countries that had a local MEOS site and countries that did not have a dedicated local site. These conversations helped to deepen user insights and identify common pain points and expectations.

Pain points:

  • Lack of language translation is a huge barrier for clients and journalists in non-english speaking.
  • All valuable content, except for the Data Explorer, is in PDF format and not SEO friendly.
  • There is currently no way to navigate to local country sites from the global site.

Strength:

  • Everyone stated that the Data Explorer was a very important tool.
  • There is easy access to other every country’s reports, infographics and past materials.

Requested Features:

  • Support for multiple languages was a request request as well.
  • Everyone is asking for more dynamic content like videos and motion graphics.

As a result of the interviews, we learned that in some Spanish speaking countries “MEOS” has a very negative connotation in local slang. We are currently limiting the use of the MEOS acronym in copy and have directed affected countries to refer to the report as “ManpowerGroup’s EOS Report” or “EOS” when a shortened name is required.

Competitive Analysis

With the help of the MEOS Global program manager, we compared similar offerings to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook website from three different competitors. I focused on the most relevant heuristics principles from Neilsen Norman Group’s 10 Heuristic Principles:

  1. Match between system and the real world
    The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
  2. User control and freedom
    Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
  3. Aesthetic and minimalist design
    Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.

The site has a very modern and clean feel. The use of white space and color blocking make the site easy to look even though there is a lot of content to sift through. Headers, CTA’s and body copy are all very brief and written in common language without jargon. The user can easily navigate between sections, reports and return to the top of page with very little risk of making mistakes.

Match between system and the real world - scored 4 out of 5

User control and freedom -scored 4 out of 5

Aesthetic and minimalist design - scored 4 out of 5

This site also has a very modern feel uses animated charts that trigger on scroll as a user delighter. However, the site feels over crowded, complicated and not very intuitive.

The hero banner and copy provide does a great job confirming users are in the right place and helps set the tone for the rest of the visit. Body copy is very wordy and could use more white space to help break up the wall of content.

The front page is an extremely long scroll that is broken up into different “job sector” sections. There is a drop down nav that jumps between sections but it’s too far away from the body and not in a intuitive location.

I feel this page would work a lot better if broken up into separate industry sector pages, drawing more attention to the site navigation, and add a return to top button on long scrolls.

Match between system and the real world - scored 4 out of 5

User control and freedom - scored 2 out of 5

Aesthetic and minimalist design - scored 2 out of 5

Although the website has an easy to navigate minimalistic design, it lacks in aesthetics and white space that are needed to make a great user experience.

There is no context except for the title to let the user know they are in the right place. A hero banner with some intro copy, a CTA to download current report and a drop down menu to jump to specific reports would improve user confidence.

Adding white space between section, paragraphs and list items would help bust up the wall of words, reinforce site hierarchy and just make the site easier to use.

Shorter titles would be more user friendly. adding a return to top button would drastically cut down on user mistakes and aid user recovery.

Match between system and the real world - scored 2 out of 5

User control and freedom - scored 4 out of 5

Aesthetic and minimalist design - scored 2 out of 5

Creating Empathy Maps and User Personas

Using insights gained from the survey and interviews, the empathy mapping process revealed that there was large overlap in user pain points and needs. As a result, I was able to consolidate down from the existing 7 user groups to 3 user groups.

User Stories and the Minimum Viable Product

It was a hard sell, to move to a Lean UX approach. Committing to focussing on few critical features testing and iterating was a hard concept to grasp for an organization that is stuck in the “We have one shot to get it perfect before we launch” waterfall mentality. In the end, the aspect of minimizing risk and wasted resources was the final selling point.

Armed with organizational buy-in, and focusing on the user pain points and goals, I identified the set of features for the “Minimum Viable Product” or MVP. The users have clearly stated that they want multi-language support, in-line content not in a pdf, the ability to get to the coutry level or data explorer as quick as possible and the ability to share directly to social channels. These are the features that were used to develop the following user stories.

Information Architecture

For the card sort exercise, I recruited five individuals and asked them to sort 28 user tasks. Each participant was briefed on how complete the exercise from the primary user persona’s perspective. The participants made there way through the stack with little difficulty and almost no additional probing.

After combining and standardizing the category names, provided by the participants, tasks were easily sorted with only a few items that didn’t have a clear cluster. Those hard to group items were then reconciled by using insights from the user interviews and survey responses.

Site Map and User Flows

After spending so much time in discovery activities, I was eager to start thinking about the structure of the new site. Using the categories from the card sort analysis, I began sketching rough versions of a site map. After several quick paper version, I moved into Adobe Illustrator to create the following version.

Once I was comfortable with the site map, I went through the same iterative process, paper sketch then to Illustrator, to create user flows. I created a user flow for each persona.

Sketches and Wireframes

My sketching can be broken down into 3 basic parts.

  • Review — I thoroughly review all the user research/documentation and project requirements to make sure I have the right perspective before I start sketching possible solutions.
  • Rapid ideation — I set a clear goal of how many screens, options per screen and a clear time limit for how long I’m going to spend creating sketches. The time limit is very important because it keeps me from going into too much detail and from judging my questionable drawing skills.
  • Refinement — I look at all the options for a screen and then make one more version incorporating everything I learned from the initial rapid sketches. I take as much time as needed and I pay much more attention to proportions and lines.

The current site data shows that users are almost exculisively viewing the site via desktop. Therefore, sketches and wireframes will only reflect desktop layout.

The first draft sketches represent the rapid ideation part of my process. I set my goal at creating 2 or more options for the home, current results, explore data, country/global results screens in 30 minutes total time.

After reviewing my first draft versions, I felt very confident that I was moving in the right direction. I knew the parts I wanted to keep and saw opportunities for improvement.

The second round drafts reflects the refinement part of my process.

As a member of a creative team that works in Adobe Creative Cloud, I chose to construct my wireframes in Adobe’s XD application. Although the program does have some limitations, the ability to go from design right to prototype in an environment that my team members are familiar with, is a huge time saver. And what XD lacks it more than makes up for moving from low to high fidelity with it’s deep integration with illustrator and photoshop.

After reviewing my sketches with my advisor, I was able to quickly implement feedback and construct wireframes. Laying out the different components in a 12 column grid let me focus on proportions and screen composition. I feel very confident taking these wireframes into a prototype exercise.

Prototype

One of Adobe XD’s greatest selling points is that you can go from wireframe straight to prototype with ease. After implementing feedback from a team review, I was able to quickly pin artboards/screens together. The only difficulty in working with XD prototypes is in the limitations of XD itself. Currently XD does not have the ability to simulate anchor links or modal pop-ups. However, these shortcomings are easily overcome by creating copies of artboards with creative cropping.

User Testing

I recruited 3 participants for user testing that fit the Carla Client persona with the promise of a free lunch. Testing was conducted on site in a brightly lit conference room and was recorded for later evaluation if needed.

The testing sessions went very smoothly. I did have a “power user” that I did have to reign in and focus her attention. Another user got hung up on lack of color and I had to explain the purpose of wireframes and that the full visual design comes later in the process. In the future I would like to have a minimum of 5 users per round of testing so I can have a better sense of “is this a common issue or just this one user.”

Task #1

  • Background: You are a journalist for a major US financial publication. You have just received a press release over the wire announcing the latest release of the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS) and have navigated the the Global MEOS website from a link in the release.
  • Question: Where would you go on the site to find the latest Report for the US?
  • User Feedback: All the users easily navigated to US Results page and found the correct place to download the report. There were some hesitation on the current results page with the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions at the top of the page not being very meaningful. Users felt that if the countries couldn’t be re-ordered into a more intuitive grouping that using the world map with pins that highlighted the entire region on hover or touch.
  • Solution: After discussing with stakeholders, we decided to go with the interactive map pins option discussed with the users because the regions are fixed. In the global report and country reports, countries are referred to belonging to specific regions in the copy.

Task #2

  • Background: You are a HR manager for large Bank with branches throughout the region. You’ve been flooded with CV’s/Resumes lately and want to know what the hiring outlook is for financial services in your market before you go through the effort of screening potential candidates.
  • Question: Where would you go on the site to find the specific data you need to help you make this decision?
  • User Feedback: All users completed this task with very little difficulty. When prompted to download or share their data visuals, they felt that the options and flow were useful and intuitive.

Task #3

  • Background: You are the COO of a manufacturing company with facilities across the country. Your operation is growing and it’s getting harder to find the staff you need to keep up. MEOS has helped you understand your local market and have decided you need help.
  • Question: Where would you go on the site to contact ManpowerGroup and request help with hiring?
  • User Feedback: All users found the contact us CTA on the bottom of each page very easily. One user suggested adding a contact us link to the header because the CTA isn’t immediately visible on the longer pages that require scrolling, especially for the mobile experience.
  • Solution: After discussing with stakeholders. We decided to add a “Contact Us” option in the header navigation.

Users appreciate the simple clean layout with clear navigation. All users were able to clearly identify who the page is from, what the page is about and what they could expect to do on the page. Other than the minor changes discussed in the tasks, users did have some additional items for refinement:

  • User Feedback: Quarters (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4) are too ambiguous as some businesses report on a fiscal year as opposed to ManpowerGroup reporting by calendar year. Users suggested replacing the quarters with the actual months (Q1 for January-March) or at least adding the months after the Quarter label.
    Solution: After discussing this issue with stakeholders, we decided to add “for the three months ending June 2018” to the descriptive copy on the home page, current results page and country pages.
  • User Feedback: Call out data whenever in copy in bold or color.
    Solution: After discussing with stakeholders, we decided to bold the data points in body copy.

Style Guide

This project style guide has been created to fit within ManpowerGroup’s brand guidelines.

Project Summary

Leading the MEOS team and my organization through a new User Centered workflow provided many benefits but also some challenges. By having a well defined and documented process, I was able to move the project forward even with changing stakeholders and research participants around the world. As each new organizational wrinkle appeared, I was able to refer back to the research plan or research data to back up project decisions. As a result of this project, I have already been engaged for more User Experience work.

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