UX Research. UX Design. Usability Testing.


How can we help recruiters to make a decision about 40 candidates in 4 minutes? We had 7 days to research, design, and test.

TIMELINE: 7 days
TEAM: UX Designer and UX Researcher
PROBLEM: Recruiters have very little time to review candidate lists

Usability testing to increase conversions

Visage, a recruiting platform, asked Aimee Landsberg, Product Designer, and I to design a mobile app for recruiters to review 40 candidates within four to six minutes. In order to optimize time-on-task and success rate metrics, I conducted on-site, moderated usability testing. During evaluative research, I discovered that…

large candidate names and images cause user bias

To persuasively present user insights,  I provided multimedia testing evidence for a research-informed app design.


Visage Usability Plan

See the details!


Visage clients asked Aimee and I to continue iterating the mobile app for implementation! 😀 


Step 1: Narrow in on the current project scope

Initially, we were going to improve the candidate experience and judge success based on candidate conversion rates. When they decided to focus our project on the candidate viewing list, success would be determined through usability testing, measuring for time to complete and ease of use.

Step 2: Learn the recruiting industry with market and user research

To better understand the recruiting industry, I used a competitive analysis and conducted in-depth user interviews. Key Challenges: scheduling time with full-time recruiters and fitting interviews into the super-tight deadline. I looked for people who had least had some candidate recruiting experience and successfully interviewed two small business owners. I focused on these key topics: searching for candidates, reviewing candidates, and recruiting tool usage.


I worked from this discussion guide:


  1. How often do you seek to connect with candidates?
  2. What types of positions do you look for on crowdsourced recruiting sites?
  3. Can you tell me about a recent candidate-seeking experience?
  4. Can you walk me through the process?
  5. Can you tell me more specifically about your candidate review process?
  6. What similar tools do you use to review candidates?
  7. Can you tell me about your experience using these tools?

Step 3: Conduct initial ideation for mobile layout

Aimee and I each brainstormed and sketched ideas to best solve the current user needs in a mobile app layout. Our initial sketches included ideas that we later validated and implemented in the ideal app version.

Ideation 1
features brainstorm
Web Layout
UI Design

Step 4: Assess time on task and success rate with usability testing

I designed moderated usability study sessions to assess time on task and success rates. Ideally, I would have scheduled full-time recruiters to test the prototype. I did recruit 9 tech professionals in a short period of time. To account for this slightly removed demographic, I asked participants to role-play, “You are a recruiter seeking a qualified XYZ candidate.” I assessed the key user goal: “Review and select between 40 candidates.”  

immediate app design
Candidate Card
Usability Testing

Key Theme 1: Candidate Skills

More important than the current employer or position title, participants wanted to see candidate skills.

Key Theme 2: Years of Experience

Nearly every participant in our usability study immediately wanted to see years of experience on candidate cards.

Key Theme 3: Name and Photo

Multiple participants felt concerned about the prominence of the name and photo, fearing racist or sexist biases would occur. Unanimously, participants suggested these candidate card elements be downplayed to leave room for more important factors.

“This page doesn’t give me a good idea of what this person might be good at. What are these people capable of doing?”

UX Designer

“I don’t care about name and image. I care about years of experience and skills.”

Startup Founder

“There’s nothing that would make me pick this person over the other that isn’t my own bias.”

UX Director

Additional themes to address in UI iterations

Social Media Handles: The initial design included social media handles front and center on candidate cards (per clients’ vision and current website design). During usability, I immediately realized these handles take people away from the app. Not good.

Candidate Filters: The clients wanted recruiters to fully trust their matching algorithm. However, nearly every participant said  reviewing 40 candidates “overwhelming” and “a lot.” I found that people looked for ways to quickly minimize the list. The list felt like a “task” that they wanted to accomplish and complete.

Candidate Validation: During this task, users needed a sense of completion/confirmation. To account for this desire, we adjusted the interface to have “like” and dislike” on the card view as well as in the full candidate viewing.

Resume Presentation: Participants unanimously said the resume PDF text was way too small to read. To make the format more accessible, we focused on make the PDF response to parse the information or to find another way to synthesize the resume.

Step 5: Turn user themes into actionable insights and iterate

The ideal version included candidate card components such as years of experience and top skills to help recruiters make informed and swift decisions. We also changed the interaction to include a “thumbs up” and a “thumbs down” to give users a feeling of control and completion for each choice.

A few of the immediately suggested iterations

Step 6: Present research-informed mobile design to meet user needs

The founder believed that his candidate matching algorithms were superior and that all 40 candidates would be great fits. However, most users didn’t understand why they had to sort through 40 candidates and wanted immediate ways to filter through. To address this stakeholder challenge, we presented multimedia testing evidence with two design options to discuss.

Visage Mobile App

See the presentation!

Key Learnings

  • EVALUATIVE RESEARCH: I gained more confidence and skill in onsite, moderated usability studies.
  • ARTICULATING DESIGNS: I gained good practice articulating mobile design choices and presenting suggested redesign.
  • CREATE UNDER PRESSURE: I learned how to gather research and back up decisions on a tight deadline.