Indeed is the world's largest job board with 90% of the world's GDP in job postings. Mobile represents about 60% of all job search traffic on Indeed, but actual usage on mobile is very poor. More than 80% of users would abandon after installation, and >2% would use the app to apply to a job.
Redesigning the mobile app to address these issues would have a tremendous effect on overall traffic. I was given 5 weeks to lead a complete redesign.
As the Senior Lead UX Designer, I was responsible for creating bold, new concepts for the future of job hunting and sourcing. After the success of previous projects, I was asked to solve Indeed's mobile experience problem with a redesign.
I led the redesign on-site at our San Francisco tech campus with the mobile native team, our user research team in Austin, and our global UX team. Together, we worked in weekly design sprints: assessing problems, pitching solutions, building prototypes, and testing our ideas.
A battle-tested process for rapid innovation
The sprint is a four-part process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with real users. Instead of waiting to launch a minimal product to understand if an idea is any good, we got clear data from a realistic prototype each week and iterated on that. This granted us a preview of our finished product and user reactions, before making any expensive commitments.
Each week started with a structured discussion addressing a single challenge and possible solutions from competitors, best practices, and previous research.
After refining our ideas, the team would decide which solutions were viable before building a high-fidelity prototype.
With our idea prototyped and ready for launch, I would hand it off to our user research team to present before real users for reactions and feedback.
The sprint comes to a close as we interview users and learn by watching them react to the prototypes. We keep what works, refine, and repeat.
Reducing abandonment by 60%
Nearly 80% of users would abandon the app after opening. User research and eNPS surveys indicated users lost interest when they felt the mobile app offered less functionality than the desktop site or because it was visually displeasing. This meant first impression was critical. The mobile app had to look good and prove unique value quickly.
After cleaning up site architecture, we tested four different design directions. The desktop site lacked consistent design and a style guide, leaving mobile up to interpretation, but I wanted to keep mobile close enough to feel like it belonged to the Indeed brand.
The winning design reduced abandonment from ~80% to nearly 20%. Users trusted the cleaner interface and spent more time exploring the app, allowing us to customize their experience and setup notifications to improve retention.
Successfully onboarding new users
While most users who downloaded the app already had an Indeed account and could benefit from their saved settings, new job seekers were presented with a blank, intimidating experience.
I designed and tested a few different ways to onboard new users to improve their first time experience. Our winning variation required minimal input from the user, scanning the text from their resume and autofilling the rest. At the end, users were presented with a job alert so they wouldn't miss an opportunity, while boosting reengagement.
Mobile constraints became our advantage
Decreasing abandonment was not enough, we also needed to improve retention by providing unique value to mobile users. I did this by simplifying functionality and focusing on the transient state of mobile:
How we validated ideas with real users
The key to the design sprint was testing our ideas often. We couldn't rely on static mocks to validate complex interactions, so I produced a framework for rapid prototyping that used live data.
Designs were responsive and loaded onto phones as mobile web apps using the web standard manifest. When running in full-screen, they felt like native apps complete with transitions and micro interactions.
Observing user behavior leads to a new path for mobile
After a few design sprints, a clear trend was emerging: usage on mobile was poor because job seekers used it for discovery, not applying to jobs. Most job seekers wanted to tune their resume, craft a cover letter, or research the company later on their desktop computer.
Development on the mobile app continued, but I wondered what would happen if we designed an app purely around discovery. With this new app, job seekers would subscribe to their industry and receive a tailored, customized, stream of jobs that matched them.
Recommendations would be presented as cards with requirements highlighted using natural language processing for rapid scanning. Swiping right would save for later review, swiping left would provide negative feedback to help refine our machine learning algorithm.