Mobile App | UX/UI Design, UX Research
Ace is a digital tool designed for job seekers who are looking to ace their next interview. It allows users to perform practice interviews in a stress-free manner from the comfort of their couch, and consolidates their upcoming interviews and tasks into one place.
This design challenge is where I applied my understanding of the UX design process and created a digital experience for a given problem.
Job interviews can create anxiety and stress for many applicants, causing them to not go as originally planned.
The catalyst to getting a job is to first interview with the company to show that you're qualified for the position and a good candidate.
Job interviews can be very mentally taxing, however, and many people experience job interview anxiety. This anxiety stems from nerves, stress, lack of self-confidence, and a lack of preparation, and can sometimes cause the interview to not go as planned.
Creating a digital solution for job seekers looking to build their interview confidence was important to me as it is something I struggle with as well in my design career.
Being able to empathize with this problem space and folks who encounter interview anxiety guided this project and its final form.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
"High levels of anxiety may result in a low job interview score, despite the applicants possible superior on-the-job performance if hired."
GOT A PLAN?
Prior to continuing on with this design challenge, I mapped out exactly how I would create this digital solution, taking inspiration from the double diamond framework.
I first began to find additional secondary research to back up my initial impressions.
I found a number of studies and resources to validate this problem:
Job interviews can create a 'perfect storm' for anxiety to spike because they usually involve the following triggers: public speaking, feeling inadequate, identity issues and economic need.
While women may experience more stress than men when it comes to dealing with job interviews, women have better coping skills when it comes to dealing with the stress.
In a concept known as the sex-linked anxiety coping theory, anxiety levels of females may be less detrimental to how they perform in interviews due to their tendency to use coping strategies.
93% of job applicants experiences interview-related stress.
A recent survey conducted by JDP of over 2000 people, an overwhelming 93% of job applicants experienced anxiety related to their interview.
PROBLEM SPACE REFINEMENT
What is the problem being solved? Why is it an issue?
Job seekers’ performance during interviews can be negatively impacted due to their nervousness and anxiety prior to their interviews. This is an issue as it deteriorates their confidence and creates a track record of missed opportunities that could have potential if not for their nerves, stress, and lack of confidence.
What is the ultimate impact that is being achieved?
The ultimate impact would be an increase of confident and prepared job seekers who are able to achieve the job success they deserve without any unnerving constraints getting in the way. My project goal is to create a digital service that consolidates all the tasks within job preparation and houses tools to help applicants in their interviews.
Who does this issue affect? Who is most affected?
This issue affects over 90% of job seekers. The most affected group of people are job applicants between the ages of 18-64, with an emphasis placed on men.
I believe my users have a need to feel more prepared prior to job interviews, sans any stress and anxiety.
These needs can be solved by/with a platform that helps build users confidence with job interviews and acing them.
The #1 value a user will get from this is an increase in self-confidence and (hopefully) a job!
My biggest risk is users lack of interest in this product or preference to non-digital methods.
I will solve this through incentives within the digital platform.
Interviewing users about their job interview anxiety produced new insights & themes.
To learn a bit more about the pain points and behaviours of my users, I talked to a few millenials ages 20-40, primarily men, who need assistance with job interview preparation.
I prepared a series of interview questions ranging from general job questions, to questions asking how they prepare for job interviews and what they like or dislike about existing methods. Here are the key themes that were formed from the interview insights:
People are looking for interactions that can simulate a real interview environment, as practice interview with close ones or self-practice interviews currently do not provide the typical interview experience.
Many users have a variety of tools for application organization and scheduling, but none are dedicated to assisting with job interview question prep - there is a need to consolidate interview tools in one place.
Knowing where users are going wrong or excelling with their answers in an interview environment can help them improve in future opportunities. People are looking for assistance with this aspect.
"It is good to keep organized, so if all the resources I need to prepare for my interviews were in one place, it would keep me focused."
"A feature that would be really cool would be video interviews, where you had questions asked to help you think on your feet."
"...once I landed an interview, a lot were one-sided self tapes, which I was not prepared for."
"I went into it confident with what I could contribute to the company... but I didn't have a great ability to express how I was going to do that. I wish I got helpful feedback from them."
"I will tape myself on my phone and watch back how I answered certain questions or what my mannerisms were like."
"...it would need to be integrated into my Google Calendar because I wouldn't want to check multiple places for my interview schedule."
"It would help me to have someone less close to me to run through a practice interview with."
KEY RESEARCH INSIGHTS
After conducting user interviews and reviewing my secondary research findings, I was able to determine some relevant findings that would help guide this project further:
I believe that if job seekers can simulate the experience of a job interview at home and obtain assistance via app features and industry-specific practice interviews, they will be better prepared and reduce their stress prior to the interview.
I will know this is true when I see an increase in the number of confident job seekers and reduced stress amongst applicants when it comes to preparing for job interviews.
I'D LIKE YOU TO MEET BEN
Based on my research findings and key insights, I created a representation of my target audience and end user who will become the primary user of this digital solution.
The persona of Benjamin, or Ben, was developed based upon my research findings.
Ben is a 27-year old accountant who is currently looking for management roles. He is an avid user of LinkedIn, but finds that it doesn't really go further than job searching and networking. He hopes to find a new job soon to support himself and his girlfriend.
Goals & Motivations
Curious | Empathetic | Independent | Analytical | Organized
HOW IS BEN CURRENTLY FEELING?
To understand exactly how users feel with their current job interview preparation experience, I created an experience map to guide my design and identify opportunities of intervention.
I noticed an opportunity for intervention in Ben's experience after his not-so-great practice interviews and when he was prepping the day before the interview and was getting anxious.
With these discoveries in mind, I defined my project question:
How might we support job seekers throughout their application process in order to better prepare them and reduce stress prior to their interviews?
Authoring user stories, sorting them into epics, and finding task flows for the app.
USER STORIES & CORE EPIC
Using this HMW statement and keeping Ben's needs in mind, I crafted 30-40 different user stories that were organized into 4 epics - talking to industry professionals, interview simulation, past job interview reviewing, and organizing before interviews.
I honed in on the epic of Interview Simulation as it best represented the needs of Ben and users like him, and what would be helpful and needed for the minimum viable product solution.
From these user stories, I selected ones that best represented Ben's goals and needs as a job seeker, and specified tasks that went along with them.
I chose a core task and a secondary task for Ben to perform when using this app.
TASK FLOW DIAGRAMS
Once I narrowed down the primary and secondary task for Ben, I developed 2 task flows that depict how a user like Ben would interact with this product solution.
The task flow includes the onboarding process as it is Ben's first time using this app.
Task 1: Conduct and simulate a practice interview at home
Task 2: Gather feedback on my mock-interviews
Task Flow Legend
SKETCHING & WIREFRAMES
Once I determined my tasks flows for Ben, I sketched out what the possible solution might look like. First, I sought out inspiration for the UI elements on the various app screens, and used pen and paper to roughly draw them out. You can find my UI inspiration board here.
My UI inspiration board guided me on what current apps are doing for the various elements I needed to implement on my app screens.
I sketched out a few versions of each of the screens I needed, and highlighted exactly what elements I wanted to go forward with.
Once I had my sketches figured out, I translated them into med-fi wireframes using Figma. Below is a quick overview of what this med-fi prototype looked like.
1, 2, 3... is this a real working prototype?
After setting everything up in Figma, I set off with testing my med-fi prototype. This usability testing went for 2 rounds with 5 new participants in each round. After getting feedback from my first 5 testers, I would take their informational remarks and revise my prototype and present the revised one to the next 5 participants.
USER TESTING OVERVIEW
User testing is conducted to gather critical feedback on the med-fi prototypes, as this feedback will inform any design changes that happen for the next two revisions.
I first determined what criteria my testers should follow:
I seeked out folks who have experienced job interview related anxiety or stress, alongside those who fell into the millenial (ages 20-40) demographic.
Additionally, I hoped to test with folks who identifed as male, as per my secondary research findings about sex-linked coping anxiety.
The tasks the testers were asked to complete over the two rounds include, with the core tasks being Task 4 and Task 5:
USER TESTING: ROUND 1 INSIGHTS
Testing with users provided an immense amount of insights into my initial prototype - I saw that 5/5 testers failed at least two tasks that they were asked to do. I tracked these errors on a table to see exactly which tasks needed to be revised based on their remarks, and then used a design prioritization matrix to determine which changes were highest priority:
WHAT DID I IMPLEMENT IN V2?
Some of the key things I changed and added to my second prototype version was:
USER TESTING: ROUND 2 INSIGHTS
After testing with 5 new users on my revised prototype, I saw much better results the second time around. Most of the tasks were completed successfully by all 5 testers, however, there was still some areas for improvement. I tracked these new user testing findings on a table and sorted them in a design prioritization map once again:
WHAT DID I IMPLEMENT IN V3?
Some of the key things I changed and added to my final prototype was:
"Design is the silent ambassador of your brand." - Paul Rand
Developing a brand identity for the app to enhance the overall experience.
MOODBOARDS & KEYWORDS
After finalizing my prototype, it was time to inject some life into it through user interface design. I first started with invisioning what my app would look and feel like through sourcing images that I felt my app resonated with as a whole, alongside some keywords that my app's brand embodied.
After reviewing my moodboard, I selected a few images to extra colours from for my app's colour palette. I tweaked these colours slightly, and also brought in neutral colours and semantic colours that are displayed in the app as well.
ACCESSIBILITY & wcAG COMPLIANCE
As this app involves a bit more reading than other apps, I wanted to make sure it was visually accessible to users. I made sure that the text colours complied with WCAG triple A standards when they were placed upon background colours other than pure white or black.
TYPOGRAPHY & LOGO DESIGN
I knew for readability, I wanted the core part of my app to be in a sans serif typeface, however, I wanted to bring in a fun serif for use in my branding font (who said fonts like Times New Roman had to be boring, right?)
For my logo, I initially had a modern looking A with a checkmark through it. However, I decided to do a complete redesign and incoporated an "ace" of spades as a play on towards of my app name, and snuck in a checkmark to exemplify accomplishment.
ICONOGRAPHY & ATOMIC DESIGN
An important part of any app is its icons and other elements. I made sure the icons were all lined when possible,and I followed Brad Frost'sAtomic Design
methodology when crafting my UI library.
I started with things like buttons (atoms), then navigations (molecules), and larger elements like dropdown menus (organisms) were created. I made sure to create templates to ease the job of building multiple screens individually, and redlined everything when possible.
If you'd like to check out my full breakdown of the UI of this app,
please check out my presentation here.
Ace is a mobile application designed for job seekers who are looking to ace their next interview
Quick & easy onboarding.
Ace allows users to sign up through LinkedIn - by doing so, users are able to input their work history and experience seamlessly.
New users are greeted with helpful onboarding screens that explain what the app entails and how the practice interviews work.
Users can also sync their calendar, and Ace is able to grab upcoming interview meetings and any interview-related tasks and keep them in a tidy dashboard.
Customize your own interview.
After checking out their filled in profile page, users are prompted to start a practice interview!
They can choose and learn about the practice interview types to see which one best fits their needs.
Ace is able to gather industry-standard interview questions based on the users upcoming interviews as it looks at the job title as well as the company it is for.
Before starting, users are able to review their choices and learn how to succeed within the practice interview.
Helpful wizards, like Gandalf!
Before starting the actual practice interview, users are greeted with wizard notifications that explain in detail what to expect, as well as what all of the elements on screen mean.
They're reassured that they can pause and take breaks during this practice interview to remain stress-free and to allow for some time to think about answers.
Practice, practice, practice!
After allowing Ace to access the camera and microphone, users can start their practice interview.
These interviews are with pre-recorded interviewers, so users can get the experience of talking to someone new without the stress of real-life interactions.
Questions appear at the bottom of the screen, and Ace analyzes both the body language and verbal answers of the user and compares them to exemplary industry answers. Users can see their results once loaded.
Excel with Ace's tips & feedback.
Ace will present users with a rating on their body language and their verbal responses.
Users can open up their responses and see where exactly they need to improve or what they excelled at, as well as Ace's recommendations for next time.
After reviewing their results, users have the option of saving the interview for later review and adding Ace's interview tips to their dashboard for easy access.
Sharing Ace with the world, one platform at a time.
In order to obtain more app users, I thought about how to best market Ace to my target audience. I wanted to express its unique functionality while also highlighting its features.
I developed some sketches, then created content flow diagrams to illustrate how this marketing website would be translated from desktop to mobile. I created gray and then hi-fi prototypes - click the buttons below to explore then, and view their interactions!
I explored what the video interview portion of the Ace app would look like if it were on an iPad. For the most part, all the elements are pretty buildable from mobile to tablet, and the user is able to get a larger image of their interviewer. Tablets generally come with a stand or a case that would allow the user even more ease when setting up the video interview part.
Design Impact & Key Learnings
Utilising the 'Tarot Cards of Tech' by the Artefact Group allowed me to think about what the future of Ace might look like in different scenarios. I chose 'The Catalyst' to focus on as it talks about equity and access, which are important to me as a designer.
Cultural habits can vary season to season, year by year, and during this pandemic, I think Ace would come in handy as many of us have been stuck inside with minimal communication with others. Our habits would help boost the use of Ace, as people might not have other familial resources to practice interviews with.
I hope Ace changes habits for the better - an ideal situation would be users not needing this app any longer as they have built up their interview confidence and can perform them like a breeze. While this may be a bad business model, Hinge (the dating app) has a similar slogan and their product solution seems to be working great.
Getting the opportunity to create something innovative was both a challenge and very rewarding. I wanted to solve a problem that many folks struggle with, but I was also struggling with determining how to do so, as there are not many things I can benchmark.
I am grateful I was able to pick the brain of my prototype testers, as they truly provided me insight into what elements Ace should contain - without them, this app would look totally different!
Some of my other key learnings include:
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to reach out below if you want to discuss Ace further!
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As a creative, I'm looking to work in an environment where I can flourish and grow as a designer while also making a positive impact with my skill set.
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