San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) is a public-private nonprofit organization. Their My Next Move (MNM) initiative provides resources for job seekers who face unique challenges in finding their next job or forever career.
Their team knew they had compelling career materials. The problem was their visitors couldn’t find them.
SDWP also wanted to integrate the Japanese philosophy of ikigai more effectively into their MNM steps. Ikigai and MNM were, in fact, already woven into the fabric of SWDP’s career-finding approach.
Unfortunately, ikigai and MNM were confined to isolated pages, so the user hit dead ends instead of leveraging their helpful foundations. Same with the other MNM resources.
To boot, the organization identified several San Diegan populations with specific job search needs. The team asked for our help creating dedicated landing pages for each demographic.
So, what’s a Creative Services Department to do?
The site’s information architecture started as a daunting challenge for job seekers. The homepage was barren, and the visually simple main navigation did little to support the user journey or tell a compelling story for the organization.
The seemingly most useful navigation item, “Job seekers,” led to a series of interactive cards that, while engaging, disconnected essential career planning resources and two vital narrative elements: MNM and ikigai.
The team had a great deal of helpful content. The problem was that it was confined to its own categories when it needed to be organized into a broader framework.
Given that we had to work with the current navigation and the interactive card layout, we focused our energy on tying together MNM and ikigai into an existing MNM landing page. We also implemented a familiar mental model to guide job seekers with clear steps to finding a fulfilling career, relevant training, or immediate job.
We started by addressing specific audiences, then recommended to SDWP that we also engage other populations as well. We integrated the MNM ethos, ikigai philosophy, and RIASEC approach as signposts throughout the experience.
Our efforts culminated in a radically new site unified around guiding frameworks of ikigai, RIASEC, and MNM, specifically addressing diverse career searchers’ needs.
We gathered collateral from SDWP’s existing branding and goals for the organization and site. Our team analyzed this information to strategize a new design that reflected their ideals. From this, we brainstormed personas that the new site should address.
Our analysis showed that SDWP targeted three priority populations: job seekers, career changers, and career counselors. This distinction guided much of the information architecture to come.
We conducted a thorough competitive analysis around existing tools for users’ career searches. The team also collected feedback on the existing website.
Then, we concluded that users had trouble finding content and needed a more guided experience.
Before focusing on color and beauty, we worked through the pages’ visual structure. We laid out each one to address the demographics we identified through discovery and research and prioritize the content on the page.
We created schematic black-and-white mockup structural work, then tested the wireframes to ensure our layouts were clear, and users could quickly locate their career path information.
We wanted to make sure the design enhanced the wireframes’ efficacy. So, we ensured it supported the informational hierarchy, guided users to the right places, and conveyed effective content to accomplish these goals.
As we moved on from UX, we ensured the UI design enhanced SDWP’s brand palette to help users learn and recognize sitewide concepts, including ikigai and the RIASEC.
The work was well received, along with our recommendations to engage specific audiences. So, SDWP asked us to address those demographics that we identified as another priority for them.
We did generative, qualitative research and found that users’ needs clustered around vets, justice-involved individuals, new Americans, teachers, teens and young adults.
Our research began with interviews of the SDWP staff, who worked with these newly-identified core populations and could speak to their job-search pain points.
We identified a series of audiences from these interviews and batched them into an immediate priority group. Then we put more users into a second priority group to address in the following work phase.
“MNM...is enabling us to have the tools to make a big splash, which I’m very confident is coming.
Sarah Burns, SDWP Director of Learning
These specific demographics had particular needs and situations, which various SDWP content could address. We drafted in-depth outlines that mapped the appropriate SWDP content to these populations, fueled and supported by the ikigai, RIASEC, and MNM frameworks.
We then used these outlines to go through the same wireframing exercise as the general audience to visually lay out the page content.
From there, we designed the special populations’ pages, with curated resources structured around each user group’s pain points.
We also included a call-out box on each page so that users could access the ikigai/MNM framework.
The new website utilizes lively colors, clear visual cues, and a thoughtful strategy so users can easily navigate according to their career search needs. While the content caters to job seekers, career changers, and career counselors, specific populations within these categories can access their demographic-specific pages from the homepage.
After visiting the homepage, those same specific population users may directly access their relevant pages. They can now obtain neatly-bucketed resources that we arranged according to each population-specific pain point. Or, thanks to the ikigai call-out box, they have the option to explore the site through the MNM framework.
The homepage introduces the ikigai and MNM frameworks. Visitors are welcomed with a logical sequence and visual markers to consistently remind them of where they are in their journey.
We aligned each step with job seekers’ various needs. Visitors can begin wherever they want to find relevant, organized materials that relate to wherever they are in their career search.
We created these pages with curated resources to address each population’s specific pain points. Through these efforts, we devised a network of crosslinks throughout the MNM site.
On the MNM homepage, we designed icons for visitors to easily identify their demographic and quickly move to the relevant page.
“The new site will make life easier for our educators and customers, especially those with barriers, who need to connect to the services they want.Sarah Burns, SDWP Director of Learning
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