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The final rule for designing a recruiting site: keep it simple

keep it simpleOver the past several weeks, I’ve proposed a few rules for designing an effective recruiting site or job board: remember that users aren’t rational, and keep the focus on the candidate. Well, now it’s time for the final rule (that’s right, three rules are plenty!).

What is it? Keep it simple. Note that a simple design works hand in hand with the other two rules: a simple design will make it easier for a user to find what they need, even if they make irrational choices; and a simple design will – by definition – keep the focus on the candidate.

Consider the largest job board in the world – Indeed. Their design is very simple – and has remained so throughout the years. They haven’t been tempted by the single page designs, or the ‘moving picture’ designs, or any of the other fads that have affected site design over the past decade. Instead, their simplicity has made it extremely easy for the candidate to find job listings. Possibly the biggest change (at least in my memory) was the ‘search refinement’ feature, which appears on the left side of the screen after an initial search. Is it complex? No. Is it distracting? No. Is it easy to use? Yes.

You could argue that Indeed has its head in the sand when it comes to design. Maybe they do – but again…they’re the biggest job board in the world. Their only real rival in that regard (at this point) is LinkedIn – which has gone the opposite way in terms of design. LinkedIn is always fiddling with their design – trying to figure out how to add yet another ‘feature’ without dragging down the entire site edifice. You can argue that LinkedIn is trying to do a lot more on their site than Indeed is – and you would be right. But from a candidate perspective, I would pick Indeed over LinkedIn, every time. It’s just easier to use.

I’m not suggesting that your design should copy Indeed’s (although many have) – but I do recommend that your design always focus on simplicity. To do this, you must first understand what the primary purpose of your site actually is – and for most recruiting sites and job boards, that purpose is connecting a candidate with a job. Organize the site to support this purpose. Make this purpose the test of any site design change. 

Keep it simple. If you do that, you’ll be fine. And your candidates will thank you!

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