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What is UX and why is it vital for recruitment websites?

So much goes into the design of a recruitment website it is easy to forget its overarching purpose. Your website exists as a way to virtually connect with candidates and clients, boost your brand identity, provide valuable information, and act as a conduit for candidates to actively apply for jobs.

It is therefore essential that the user experience (UX) is positive or it will achieve none of those goals. Your website must be easy to use and visually appealing, compelling users to digest its content and move around its various pages, performing CTAs and eventually converting. Negative UX will result in lost opportunities and a potential tarnishing of your brand. UX should never be an afterthought but should be at the forefront of the minds of all involved in a website project, at every stage.

What is UX?

Firstly, let’s go back to the basics: what is UX? User experience (UX) is essentially how someone interacts with a product and the experience they have when using that product. In website design, it specifically refers to everything that affects how a user interacts with a website. As every human experience is personal and subjective, we can design for UX, to create conditions that will render the user experience a positive one, but we cannot design UX. Peter Morville’s User Experience Honeycomb, created in 2004, remains an essential UX teaching tool and checklist for designers. He breaks down the 7 factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to create a positive UX. We take a look at each one and consider how they relate to recruitment websites specifically.

  • Useful – Your website needs to fulfil a need. All users should be able to quickly find the information they are searching for. Candidates will need to be able to search for jobs, apply and register their CVs. Both candidates and clients will want to know how to contact you, find out general information about your business and read valuable content.
  • Usable – Your website must be easy to use, with user-friendly interfaces. It needs to be intuitive, making it simple for users at every step of their journey.  
  • Desirable – This centres on emotional design. A website must be easy to use but it must also elicit emotion and we can do that through branding, boosting a positive image of the company and furthering brand identity. As a key part of a recruitment website – and the recruitment process in general – desirability is a huge factor to be considered in your job ads too. Why would a candidate want to apply for this job? How can you compel them to do so? 
  • Findable – The importance of SEO is undeniable. Your website must rank highly in relevant searches so that users find your content. Once on your website, it must be easily navigable so that users can find what they’re looking for.
  • Accessible – Your website should be accessible to all, no matter what device they are using or what disability they may have. Not only is this the right thing to do, ensuring you don’t exclude any candidates simply makes business sense.
  • Credible – Internet scams have become a common occurrence so how do you ensure that users trust and believe what you tell them? A well-known brand identity is what you want to aim for so branding elements are key. Testimonials also build trust, as does the design of your website (it needs to look professional) and quality of the content. Ensuring a consistently positive UX each time a user visits your website also builds credibility.
  • Valuable – Your website must deliver value to its users. The other 6 factors will contribute to its value but it must also provide value outside of them. Ultimately, this means thinking about what your website is for and why users may be coming to it. Your website will provide value to employers by offering them the first steps to finding talent for their organisation. Candidates will find value through the jobs that you advertise and the ability to register to find out about other jobs. Value can also come in the form of a helpful blog.     

Each factor contributes to the impact your website will have on user experience so it’s vital to get each right in order to ensure that experience is positive. 

Candidate UX

If a candidate has a negative UX, you could be missing out on talent and where will they go instead? Your competitors. Key to UX is taking the time to understand what your users –  in this case your candidates – want, need and value. Creating candidate personas can be helpful in understanding who they are and what motivates them. Similar to a buyer persona, this will allow you to identify and target the candidates you are trying to reach. What are your candidates’ career goals? Where do they search for jobs? What information will they be looking for? What would persuade them to entrust their careers to you? One thing to keep in mind is that candidate personas need to be flexible. They should not be a rigid description of your ‘ideal’ candidate. Do that and the UX design might be too narrow in its scope.  

Client UX

The client user journey will be different to the candidate journey. However, when it comes to designing the UX, the same questions need to be asked and, again, a user persona is a good way to start. What are potential clients looking for when they land on your website? What do they need to see to want to find out more, to initiate a chat, to trust you to find them the talent they need? Start from there and you’ll find the UX design comes far more naturally. Design with your users in mind and you’ll always be on the right track. 

Test, test, test

The best way to determine whether the UX created is a positive one for both candidates and clients is to test it out on candidates and clients. At the very least, put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you are a candidate searching for a job and have come across your website for the first time. Is it easy to navigate, apply for a job, register a CV? Is it simple to understand where you’re supposed to go as a candidate? Is the candidate journey clear from every page? UX also involves practical issues such as whether the buttons are easy to click (or tap if on a mobile device), if the information is structured in an easy to view way,  if the CTAs are clear, and so on. If you feel frustrated at any point, so will your users but they will just leave your website and will be unlikely to return. The RecWebs team test all websites for both desktop and mobile (vital considering Google now indexes mobile versions of websites first) and they are separately tested by a designer, a developer, an SEO analyst and the client themselves.    

UX design cannot happen without having a deep understanding of the website’s users – your candidates and your clients – which is essential to the success of your business in any circumstance. As a people business, recruiters are best-placed to do just this. Understanding client and candidate motivations will allow you to guide the design of a website that fulfils their needs and therefore furthers the goals of your website. 

For examples of great recruitment website UX design, check out some our work.  

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