Empowering career-minded individuals to gain control of their professional lives with guided support, self-monitoring, and tools.
Navigating your work-life can be a source of great stress. As your own pocket-sized mentor, Career Buddy helps you build awareness and self-discipline with feedback and tools to guide you through your journey.
Throughout your professional life you will likely face many obstacles, setbacks, and challenges. Whether it’s looking for a job, finding the right path, or maintaining a healthy work-life balance, obtaining the right support can help you overcome these rough patches.
UX Research & Design
Aug 2019 – Nov 2020
“Today’s single biggest career challenge is figuring out what you really want to do. There are more choices than ever before, and there is more information to process. People have difficulty looking inside themselves for the answer to what they want to do.”
– Younes Lattenist, McKinsey and Company
The complex user interface coupled with a lack of actionable insights outweighed the benefits of consistent self-reporting required from users.
Usability tests and surveys performed revealed users were spending more time processing information to complete tasks than gaining useful information toward their goals. There was a need to re-evaluate features implemented and planned for development as the current ones proved too time-consuming and unproductive to integrate into an average user’s daily routine.
EARLY UI DESIGNS
CAREER BUDDY NEEDS A CHECKUP
I started by uncovering the most prominent issues through usability tests with five participants within the target audience. During several walkthroughs and series of tasks completed, I discovered the main problem areas in the following:
High Effort Progress Tracking
The core functions served as more of an accountable checklist than a personal development tool which made it impractical for users to consistently track their progress long term
Lack of User Feedback
The amount of feedback provided to the user was not sufficient in comparison to the amount of information required. Users rated insights, tips, and guidance as more beneficial to their career growth
Incoherent User Journey
Each guided pathway involved a different interface with a different set of features which made navigating and remembering where features were located mentally straining
At the onset of joining the project, the MVP had launched with some basic functionalities proposed. These were based on assumptions of the target audience’s needs and frustrations. Without pre-existing research to validate the project roadmap, I set out to conduct research and studies to restructure and refine the user experience.
ROLE & TEAM
As an independent User Experience Consultant on the project, I worked closely with the project owner to provide recommendations on the onboarding user flow and feature development.
USERS & AUDIENCE
The target audience of Career Buddy is people aged 15 and over who are conscious about developing their career or improving their work-life.
To devise an appropriate research strategy, I had to take into consideration the stage of development and resources available to me at the time.
EXPLORING USER HABITS
Career Development Surveys
With some of the major problems identified, I set out to investigate more about users and their challenges during their career journey. I devised a quantitative and qualitative survey to better understand the relationship between the types of users and their frustrations. Qualitative data was collected to explore impressions, attitudes, as well as understand our target audience’s behaviours, routines, work ethic, and thought processes.
ANALYZING THE DATA
With the data collected from the surveys, I performed a thematic analysis to uncover patterns, recurring topics and ideas. With the data generated by Google Forms, I was able to gather insights about their educational background, career status, and associate it with various feelings and attitudes. After evaluating the outcome of the survey, it highlighted opportunities to improve future research in terms of more specific feature-related questions and specific groups within the target audience.
“I would like to structure my goals so that I’m not taking on
more than I ‘need’ to, to get toward my direction. I often
take on many things hoping it will get me further but then
realize; I might not ‘need’ to do things this way.”
– Anonymous on improving habits/efforts
SYNTHESIZING THE DATA
CONNECTING THE DOTS WITH NEW CATEGORIES
Three overarching themes emerged from the written survey responses which I categorized using a mind map. The mind map allowed me to see and structure the relationships within the topics of career direction, career self-care, and career growth. This information was helpful in uncovering pain points and opportunities in various career stages.
NEEDS AND WANTS START TO TAKE SHAPE
To understand what feedback is most valuable to users throughout various aspects of their career journey, I created empathy maps of three main personas. These personas provided insight as to what features and feedback may help benefit them as it relates to challenges along their career journey.
IMAGINING A CAREER THROUGH CYCLES
Considering the range of user needs at different stages or points in their career, designing a one-size-fits all solution was not conducive to helping users reach their goals. To avoid developing features that are only relevant at certain points in a user’s career journey, I created a career life cycle to demonstrate how a user may interact with certain features on an on-going basis. These features were classified as either ‘guided’ or ‘exploratory’, for periods where users may need more direction and flexibility to discover their interests or other needs, and periods where users may need more of a structured process to help them reach their goals.
“When thinking about a change, I often find motivation in thinking about all benefits from doing the change versus what life looks like if I change nothing. Almost always, this spurs action for me to take steps towards change.”
– Anonymous on accountability, motivation, and change
SELF MONITORING AND FEEDBACK
Enabling users to self-monitor their mood and activities by periodically reporting their sentiments and actions can increase emotional self-awareness. This allows users to identify trends and patterns associated with activities and evaluate opportunities for growth or change.
“Sometimes I need some support to feel more confident and venture to do something new.”
– Anonymous thoughts on career, jobs, and work-life
SELF SERVE WITH A SIDE OF PERSONAL ASSISTANE
Users should be free to explore tools at their discretion while having access to human contact through the mentor finder feature. These options give users a greater sense of control and support as it provides tailored guidance that is readily available as well as a comfortable and easy means for users to seek mentorship when needed.
CUSTOMIZATION AND PERSONALIZATION
Designing a meaningful onboarding experience is critical to retaining users and maintaining a positive first impression. The onboarding process should be quick, painless, and intentional. Collecting user data and segmenting interests and goals focuses on users’ individual journey which leads to higher engagement and a taps into users motivations with a personalized plan for success.
HIGH USER ENGAGEMENT
The quality of feedback and insights revealed to users is largely dependent on the users’ self-reporting habits. Users should feel rewarded for completing tasks and be intrinsically motivatied to engage with the app to maintain consistent monitoring. This can be achieved through usage reminders, daily tips or motivation that provide unique insight, gamified interactions, and achievements.
You don’t have to have a large or highly specialized UX team in order to design with users in mind. While every organization has challenges in performing user research and testing, the cost of good design outweighs the cost of developing the wrong product.
Throughout this project I’ve learned how important it is to constantly validate and test your assumptions with the right questions and users. While there is still the perception of research and testing being a costly and time-consuming endeavour, with the right leadership and plan of action, it can be effectively integrated into a team’s workflow.