The Maturation of Web Usability – Making the Job Application Great

online application usabilityThe user experience has been the rallying cry for software success stories over the last few years. After a long time of clunky interfaces that work hard but are also difficult to use, focus on usability has been a welcome change.

Usable design involves a focus on reducing the amount of work a user has to do to use an application – reducing the number of clicks, keeping it simple, and considering the user needs above all.

However, focus on just making it easy isn’t enough – a more mature design methodology has emerged that marries functionality and a usable interface with the mission of the application.

Human Factors International has been championing this more advanced design methodology with PET design, which involves integrating persuasive engineering into software design. “We recognize that usability is no longer enough. We need to go beyond making it so that people can complete a task; we have to make sure that they will do the task, that they will convert,” says Dr. Eric Schaffer, CEO, Human Factors International.

For e-commerce sites, this may mean creating software that takes longer to use, but actually results in higher purchases. Stores put milk in the back of the store for the same reason – making the milk harder to find actually increases store sales – thus meeting their end goal.

This approach needs to be applied in the HR world to the online job application. Because the online application has been largely ignored and difficult to use for applicants, software providers are rushing to make the online application super usable in an apology to applicants.  However, the ultimate online application meshes usability with functionality, while accomplishing the end goal of the application. In this case, the need the application meets is matching the right applicant with the right job. A long, clunky process doesn’t meet that need any more than a short process that doesn’t collect necessary information. A well-designed, usable application that gives applicants the opportunity to present themselves in the best light, even if it takes a few more clicks, is a win for all. Recruiters want to maximize their resources in finding the best candidates, applicants want to showcase their skills.  A marriage between the two is the goal.

HFI quote from the white paper: “PET User Interface Structure: Much more than just another pretty interface.” Human Factors International.

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