Situation

In March 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, universities and colleges across the world had to comply with government regulations and shut down operations to uphold the safety of the students as well as teachers and curb the spread of the virus. During this time, “On-Campus Placements” became paralyzed.

On-Campus Placement is a recruitment drive conducted within universities or other educational institutions where the “placement cell” helps provide jobs to students nearing completion of their studies.

Action

As a final year student myself, I was experiencing firsthand the challenges of a “virtual campus” on a regular basis. To understand more,  I started with a contextual inquiry to understand the problems and similar experiences of people. Based on my research, I was able to conclude that although the online campus drives have been introduced successfully, the process of execution of recruitment still remains inefficient.

Solution

PlacEasy is an app that makes the entire process of on-campus recruitment virtually easy, simple and efficient.

Duration
3 months

Role
UI/UX Designer and
Researcher

Team
Independent Project

Challenges

Some of the core issues were :
  • Using social media platforms such as Email and Whatsapp for communicating job openings and further updates till completion of recruitment. Hence, a better platform was required to conduct and maintain such a vast system.
  • Overlapping of test dates, interview dates coerce students to choose between companies and miss on some good opportunities. Hence, the overlapping had to be avoided.
  • A huge communication gap between students, Placement cells, and companies, which needed to be resolved.
  • Feedbacks from the hiring company after every recruitment which is not a common practice on on-campus drives, yet a crucial one, was to be introduced.

Design Process

Who are my users ?

Research methods

Secondary Research
Based on reliable websites like Indiatimes, timestoday, etc., here are some insights that I gained.
  • Despite the pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown, the universities are not experiencing any decline in the number of recruiters or packages.
  • A number of blog posts surveyed how students or graduates look at the virtual campus placement process and suggests the factors on which the recruiters and placement cells could focus on improving the process of recruitment.
  • Making the virtual placement more effective and efficient can reduce manual efforts as well as budgets in the recruitment process.
Primary Research

User Surveys
In order to kickstart my project, I started with a quick and relatively simpler way of gathering data about the users i.e. is the user screener survey. I received a total of 32 responses out of which 19 agreed to an interview.

User Interviews
I conducted the interviews with users who accurately represented the target demographic and potential users of my design. I interviewed 6 students, 3 placement officers, and 3 hiring managers who were the 3 personas I empathized with.

Research Synthesis

Making sense of this plethora of information
Affinity Maps
The first thing I did was organize all the notes I made during the interviews into points and insights. There was no particular way I adopted in doing this. I randomly jotted down all the stories, pain points, goals and expectations of the users onto sticky notes and stuck them on my wall. The different affinity groups formed were :
Empathy Maps
To gain a deeper insight into the users, I developed empathy maps for all 3 personas; Students, Placement cell officers and the Hiring companies. I focused on answering questions like what each of these personas are feeling and thinking ? What kind of environment are they usually in ? What are the things they say and do?, etc. Finally listing down their pains and gains gave more clarity to me in understanding what are the core problems I’ll be working on.

Personas
As designers, we use many different techniques to come up with concrete ideas and solutions. Personas, hands down, have to be one the most important steps while building any project. Having a persona in mind while developing a product can add much more value to the fruits of my labor.
At this stage, I decided who are going to be my primary personas, (the ones I'm going to design for) and secondary personas (ones that support my primary personas).

“ How Might We ?“ questions
  • “How might we eliminate the need for multiple platforms for placement activity ?”
  • “How might we make sure the students are aware of the criteria used by the companies for shortlisting candidates?”
  • “How might we avoid the overlapping of test dates and interviews ?”
  • “How might we facilitate a better platform to conduct exams ?”
  • “How might we facilitate constructive feedback from companies to students through the placement cells ?”
  • “How might we make sure the placement cell is available to solve student queries in a timely manner?”
  • “How might we eliminate the communication gap between students, placement departments, and Companies i.e Email and WhatsApp mishaps?”

Ideate

User Flows
My solution began by solving problems for the placement cell. If the placement cell’s burden is alleviated, naturally the students and the companies will function smoothly because placement officers play the connecting bridge between these two parties. I included the placement cell interface as well as a student interface on to the app.
Click here to view complete user flow
User Stories
They are written from the perspective of an end user. In my user stories, list of use cases are written horizontally. and each use case has it’s features listed vertically below them. I focused on 2 routes: The student and the Placement cell. I created some user stories that helped me prioritize my use cases.
Click here to view user stories in detail
Sitemaps
It is a list of all the screens within the application. The sitemaps in the link below focuses on mainly the student side and the placement side of the app.

Click here to view sitemap in detail
Sketches
Sketching is a crucial aspect of design. It is a very efficient way of communicating ideas in a quick and concise way. I sketched a set of screens for both, the placement side as well as the student side of the app. These sketches are final sketches after trying out a multitude of ideas and iterations before settling on this one.
Guerilla Testing
This is the simplest form of testing and can help eliminate usability issues even before wireframes are developed which saves time and resources. Using the Marvel POP website, I tested my sketches. Using clear pictures of my sketches, I created a user test. I set some testing goals and recruited participants who took part in the testing process.
Findings
  • Not clear what the open and closed icons represent.
  • Scheduling group interviews was confusing.
  • Unable to find and all the groups interviews.
  • All Consultations were missing.
  • Confusion in understanding the job status.
  • Certain warning messages were not clear.
Recommendations

Wireframes

I kept the above mentioned recommendations in mind and designed the mid - fidelity wireframes. This schematic blueprint enabled me to have a visual understanding of each screen of the app before diving into creative Hi - fidelity prototypes.

Style Guide

This style guide contains the necessary UI design elements related to my application’s user interface. This style guide helps define elements like typography, color palettes, etc. which was used in my hi fidelity screens. This  guide saved time while making decisions about the product’s design and prevented inconsistent design decisions.

Test and Validate

Usability Testing
The goals of this usability test were:
  • How well does a user grasp the core functionalities of the app
  • Identify User Interface / accessibility issues
  • Establishing a baseline for user performance
I conducted 2 usability tests. The moderated usability test and the unmoderated usability test.
Moderated Usability Testing

In this test, I sent an interactive prototype link of my application to my users and asked them to perform various tasks while I made notes. This recording was used later on to analyze the performance and check for usability issues and recommend modifications.

Findings

Issue #1
Participants were slightly struggling to find various lists on the app.

Recommendations
- Make a separate icon for the other options that existed with all the lists.
- Add the list icon on the Jobs page as well since these lists are more relevant to jobs.


Issue #2
Most participants took longer than expected to find the group interviews icon and make groups as well as schedule them.

Recommendations
- Label the group interview Icon as “Group Interviews” to make it easily accessible to the users
- Make the disabled save button non- interactive. (It was a mistake made while prototyping)

Issue #3
Participants were confused as to what the “Select Category” options while drafting a new discussion meant.

Recommendations
- Make the categories in the list more self explanatory and descriptive.
- Increase the number of categories by 2-3 numbers to make better distinction between each category.


Issue #4
Placement officers will have to make multiple scrolls to choose students from group interviews.

Recommendations
- Space can be better utilized by reducing the number of scrolls while choosing students for group interviews.
- Use student info boxes itself to reflect the selection instead of check boxes.

Unmoderated Usability Testing

In this test, I sent a link of the usability test that I created on maze.com after the usability issues from the moderated usability test were solved based on the recommendations and solutions and implemented in the prototypes. In this test, most usability issues faced by previous users were addressed.

Task analysis screenshots from maze.com after testing

Key Takeaways

  • When a student joins an institute, their primary goal is to bag a good placement with it’s help. But, due to the pandemic campus placements were made virtual. There are still many problems to be solved.
  • Until a product is tested with real end users, the application is neither successful nor a failure. If there is something about the application that I love but users don’t get it, or hate it, then it's a failure, and vice versa.
  • During the process, I strived for perfection. No matter how sharp and perfect I want my designs to be, I realized that design is a continuous process. I also understood that design is not just what it looks like but also how it works.
  • As a new and evolving designer, I constantly battled with a tendency to get creative and make my application unique and impressive. Overtime, I learned to accept the business standards and user perceptions for the success of my app.
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