When the Employment and Training Administration’s CareerOneStop team set out to redesign portions of the site (namely, career, training, and job resources), they didn’t immediately begin rewriting code. Instead, they embraced a user-centered approach that focused on the user experience (UX). In a general sense, focusing on UX means taking a step back to learn about users’ core needs and preferences before making changes to a product or service. Before the CareerOneStop team completed their site redesign, they asked users the following questions:
“Who’s using CareerOneStop resources?”
This was the first question the team asked the people they interviewed. The answer? Just about everybody. CareerOneStop users include job seekers, businesses, students, current workers, laid-off workers, veterans, workers with disabilities, workers with criminal records, career counselors and other workforce professionals, and just about every other member of the public. Researchers were pleased to learn that such diverse audiences use CareerOneStop, and they talked to a varied group of users to answer the next questions.
“Can users find what they need at CareerOneStop?”
CareerOneStop offers such a large volume of information that some users weren’t able to quickly find the best resources for their unique needs. The research team talked to users and watched them use the system to find out what each type of user needs most (and most quickly), where they expect to find it, and what language is most meaningful to them. The researchers’ goal was to identify the clearest labels and determine the best way to organize the site’s information to help users connect with the most relevant information. CareerOneStop now offers streamlined access to targeted resources for each audience.
“Are CareerOneStop’s tools easy to use?”
CareerOneStop’s resources can’t only be easy to find—they also need to be easy-to-use and effective at helping users meet their career, training, and employment goals. The CareerOneStop team conducted usability testing on key tools and websites, during which they watched users interact with the site and learned how to improve functionality, organization, and language in order to better meet users’ needs.
“How are users accessing CareerOneStop resources?”
While some people are smartphone-wired 24/7 (one recent survey found that 83 percent of people use smartphones or tablets to job search), others may lack dependable Internet service on a daily basis. CareerOneStop’s goal is to make its resources valuable for all users. That’s why both the redesigned CareerOneStop.org site and the newly launched Credentials Center are mobile-friendly—that is, they automatically adjust to a user’s smartphone, tablet, or desktop screen, providing on-the-go employment, training, and job search help. Six key CareerOneStop tools—including Job Search, Training Finder, and Salary Finder—are also available as mobile web apps.
While making its resources accessible to mobile-equipped users, CareerOneStop didn’t want to leave behind those with limited Internet access or low computer literacy skills. For those who may access the Web at a public library or American Job Center, CareerOneStop provides printable guides, along with the ability to easily download and print key information and tool results. And for those who are less comfortable with technology, printed and video help materials provide step-by-step guidance through many tools.
What’s next for CareerOneStop?
The recently redesigned CareerOneStop and the new Credentials Center offer a wealth of assistance to anyone with career, training, or employment needs. Read more about key features in the press release or watch What can CareerOneStop do for you? But user-centered development doesn’t end with the launch of new products. The CareerOneStop team will continue collecting and learning from user feedback to continually improve its resources. Send us your feedback at info@CareerOneStop.org.
This is the first draft of this Department of Labor blog post