Bhutan labour ministry’s Job Portal 2.0: Keeping users at the centre of design
Why user centered design?
All products and services are made for humans, but not all humans are your users. In other words, simply designing for people isn’t enough. You must design for the right people. As social beings, every person looks for connections, engaging platforms, meaningful engagement and needs to feel valued. User-centered design is all about ensuring tailored experience for users.
In practice, this means that designers must get close and personal with users to truly understand the pain points and mental models of the users. It is also not just about discovering the problem but also the context.
At one of the sensemaking workshops with the job seekers, one of them said: “What I need is a job, not a job seeker ID.” This highlighted the importance of understanding users first in developing a user-centered design. The image below illustrates user-centered design approach that we adopted for the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources’ Job Portal 2.0.
Applying design thinking framework to design a user-centered job portal
The beauty of user-centered design is that its principles can be customized as per the need of the initiative. Yes! It’s not unidirectional. The main idea is that we seek to understand, ideate, translate into a low fidelity (or low risk) prototype, and then put the solution to vigorous testing. This helped us to see if the design process can be adapted and implemented with agility and low cost, keeping the needs of the users at the center of the design.
- User research and need: Developing a deep understanding
Over a hundred job seekers and 20 plus employers from Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang and Thimphu were consulted to understand the challenges users faced while using the job portal. The crucial line of inquiry we considered here were — who are we designing the system for? What problem do these users have? What is the context of their problem? Against these inquiries and institutional experience, we created relevant user personas.
Further, to recognize different pain points, the key questions we explored are: When do they have the problem? What are the consequences? How is the experience at that point in time? The user journey exercise was carried out to capture these and set the direction for initial design decisions. An important tip to bear in mind at this stage is to narrow down the context of usage.
2. Prerequisites: Gathering and aligning information
Once we got a clear idea of who we are designing for and what their challenges are, we framed what we could do to solve these issues. This is when we began to consider what components we can influence and how, both in design and technical terms. Aside from these two terms, institutional requirement (data for decision making) comes into play as well. Finding a common ground among these requirements is of utmost importance to serve the purpose of service providers and receivers alike.
3. Ideate solution: From paper prototype to hi-fidelity
This is the moment when we started to see and feel our job-portal 2.0 coming alive. At the workshops, after considering all the requirements thus far, job seekers paper prototyped the job portal in groups and validated (with rest of the groups and the core team-working on the job portal 2.0) all design aspects in every step. Based on the feedback and suggestions from the users, a tangible hi-fidelity (or high-risk) prototype was designed.
4. Testing solution
The testing was done through various modalities, such as sending feedback forms and the job portal 2.0 link through SMS and email to the job seekers and employers. We conducted joint testing with the job seekers and employers through walk-in facilitated navigation at service centers in Thimphu and MoLHR regional offices, and through focus group experience sharing with job seekers and employers. The focus at this stage was double-pronged, considering both the ‘requirement testing’ and ‘usability testing’ on mobile phones as well as the laptops.
The main idea is that we carry out rigorous testing to determine whether the job portal does what it was intended to do when it was conceived. Does it solve the problem? How much effort do users need to put in the experience? Can the users complete tasks without errors? What’s the conversion rate on each button? Does it function as designed? Testing with the job seekers and employers, followed by Intelligence Workshop with all the jobseekers was key to the iterative process.
5. Keep improving
The approach must be iterative. The entire initiative follows the cycle of ideation, implementation, and testing. Accepting that mistakes happen, and designs require continuous improvement is an integral part of user-centric designs. Each part of the design will need iteration to better the service. Testing these details with real users can be time intensive, but they will save us a lot of trouble in the future.
While the current MoLHR job portal would serve the needs of the job seekers and employers now, we also need to acknowledge the fact that with changing needs of the users, the MoLHR job portal will have to be improved and remain more agile, connected and more human centered.
There are certain key extensions of the job portal that enable user experience which we have not been able to incorporate directly in the design of the job portal. Some of the features we are considering are a demo video on “How to navigate the job portal”, awareness creation, putting up job vacancies where most of the job seekers are, and short links via social media posts to direct them to the job portals. We are also looking at gathering feedback from users every six months over a period of two years (2022 -2023) and incorporating google analytics to gather data that are critical for future improvements.
UNDP would like to extend our gratitude to the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource for partnering with our Accelerator Lab on this platform to showcase the power of user-led solutions. We look forward to co-creating ideas and improving the job portal in the coming years.
People engaged: Suresh Nepal, Phub Dorji , Tshering Choki and Kuenzang Lhadon from the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, Tshering Wangmo, Sonam Choki, Kunzang Wangmo and Bishnu Chettri from UNDP Bhutan Accelerator Lab.