The importance of balancing design with functionality and usability

The recent launch of Waitrose’s new shopping site has resulted in uproar amongst middle England shoppers. The new website, reported to have cost circa £10 million, has received an unprecedented number of complaints and has resulted in some of Waitrose’s loyal customers voting with their mouse and defecting to Tesco.

Waitrose and their parent company John Lewis Partnership rarely make mistakes with their typical middle England customer base; so what went wrong? Complaints such as ‘a confusing shopping basket’, ‘endless scrolling’ and ‘navigation which is difficult to navigate’ are some of the comments being made.

On first impression the new Waitrose website looks nicely designed, the navigation seems clear, but as you start to use the website the frustration grows. For example the browse search doesn’t have the ability to add a keyword, so the user has to scroll through 268 different packets of cheese for under £5!

As websites become ever increasingly powerful, the user experience becomes even more important. Understanding what information a user will require and what actions they will want to carry out becomes crucial and where this information is displayed critical. 

The design of a career website requires the same degree of consideration, with an enhanced user experience high on the list of objectives. Personalising the visitor experience on a career website is one example of how an organisation can improve both the attraction and conversion of relevant visitors.

Making a Career Website Personal

Without personalisation a career website becomes a static environment, with every visitor presented with the same content, selecting what information to view based on navigation and search results. As a result, without personalisation the experience is predominantly a ‘pull’ relationship created by the visitor. Personalisation changes this relationship into an environment where the career website assists the user in their journey, by pushing content to the forefront in a manner that is specific to their ‘journey’ or interest.

Personalisation is not a new term. It has been effectively used by websites such as Amazon, the BBC and most of the high street shopping portals. A personalised career website will still have a navigation structure for visitor to be able to move around the website; and will still have a search facility for visitors to ‘pull’ content, but the big difference is that the experience can be changed for each visitor based on a number of factors. It can be argued that a personalised website is ‘push’ oriented – as content is far more controlled and can be specifically targeted at a visitor rather than relying on them finding it.

Personalisation in a Career Website:

An example of personalise visitor journey can be described in the following. A visitor navigates to a marketing vacancy, using either a search function or arriving directly from a search engine. Whilst reading the vacancy detail, additional relevant content is pushed to them, which complements it and further engages with the visitor. This could include:

Personalising the experience in this way requires a modern approach to both the technology used to architect a career website and the design. To achieve this level of personalisation vacancies are transferred from the ATS system to the website via an automated feed. Content is ‘tagged’ by job family through the content management system and matched with vacancies. The use of these ‘Tags’ allows the website to automatically personalise the visitor experience based on the content being viewed.
The latest generation and most successful career websites are designed by using both creativity and science. Designers spend time researching and understanding the target audience and the information that needs to be displayed. Designs are then tested to ensure that a visitor naturally finds the important content, using a mix of heat maps and observed user tests.
Personalisation can provide a website with the compelling experience that makes the difference between a career website that is ‘just another job application site’ and a career website that engages with a visitor and converts them into a relevant applicant, whilst making them a brand advocate. Ultimately this is the purpose of every career website.
A personalised career website design will help maximise the visitor experience whilst on your site and ensure they re-visit in a way that is simply not possible with a ‘non personalised website’.
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