Citi Ventures, an innovation incubator promoting economy vitality
6 months ✽ 2020-2021
Redesign Worthi, a free web app, to be more useful in helping job seekers use workforce data to make informed career decisions
Identify the ways people research potential careers ✽ Learn how people identify and acquire new skills ✽ Understand which factors people consider when making career decisions
Cross-Functional Team @ Citi
Product Designers ✽ Product Manager ✽ Data Scientist
Graduate Design Team @ SVA
Product Manager & Designer Nikhil Singh ✽ UX Designer Yuxuan Hou ✽ UI Designer Cyan Guan
Began as a Citi-sponsored graduate school project to redesign the existing product, where my responsibilities included research and product design. My role was then extended into a contract position to continue product research for Worthi as part of the Citi Ventures Studio UX Research team.
Research plan ✽ Discussion guide ✽ Participant screener ✽ Insights presentation ✽ Interactive visual report ✽ Ideation workshop ✽ Empathy maps ✽ User personas ✽ Customer journey map ✽ Competitive analysis ✽ User flow ✽ High-fidelity interactive Figma prototype
Foundational research helped the design team to better understand the motivations and struggles of job seekers.
I collaborated with Worthi’s Product Manager to develop and implement the first protocol for recruiting existing product users for research studies, leading to increased stakeholder exposure to users.
Learnings from my concept testing study with existing users influenced the design direction of the next iteration of the product, which shipped in fall 2021.
Further user feedback was prioritized during a team workshop that I facilitated. It was incorporated into the long-term product roadmap and product-market fit strategy.
Worthi by Citi was a Webby Awards Honoree in the Employment Websites & Mobile Sites category.
Text on screen as app screens are displayed on a mobile device:
Explore new roles. Understand the job data and find your best fit. See how you stack up. Get personalized insight into how your worth compares in the market. Advance your career. Learn which additional skills could help you get to the next level. Let your skills lead the way. Explore different paths based on your unique skillsets. Start learning. Connect with free online courses that are flexible to fit your schedule. Explore. Learn. Grow.
Role & Responsibilities
Responsibilities of my role as the lead UX researcher included: writing research goals, writing interview discussion guide, creating interview activity, recruiting participants, leading interviews, facilitating team synthesis workshop, conducting usability testing, presenting the findings, and making design recommendations.
Identify the ways people research potential careers
Learn how people identify and acquire new skills
Understand which factors people consider and find the most motivating when making career decisions
I conducted seven remote user interviews with participants located in seven different cities in the US. Participants ranged in age from 18 to early-50's and included undergraduate and graduate students, people pivoting careers, and people seeking career advancement.
Each of our interview participants also completed an activity ranking nine factors that motivate them when making career decisions. Participants could add a factor, exclude factors they deemed not important, and rank factors as equally important. After sorting, I asked participants to define each term in their own words and explain their rankings.
A spectrum from most important to least important is completed by a research participant considering which of the 9 factors are most motivating when making career decisions. The order they choose, beginning with most important: Workplace culture, then equally ranked work-life balance and professional growth, then equally ranked job benefits and salary, then job stability, followed by equally ranked job stability and fulfillment, and finally location. The participant chose not to add addition factors of their own choosing.
Note: This video recording from a research interview has been edited for time and speed to focus on the activity’s function. The participant’s video has been cropped out for privacy.
Analysis & Synthesis
To make sense of the qualitative data, I started with a spreadsheet that was populated immediately after each interview session. I then created an empathy map for each participant.
- His status as an Army veteran has not been as helpful as he'd hoped.
- Wonders if it would be feasible to learn a new skill, such as motor cycle mechanics or welding.
- Doesn't like asking for advice
- Questions if he's too old for manual labor
- Burnt out: from working in social media
- Stressed: he has to provide for his family financially and pay off business debt
- Frustrated: by the prevalence of HR jargon in job postings
- Motivated: values family time
- Cataloging skills
- Paid for professional resume editor
- After losing his job, he shared an update with his social media network. Many showed support and shared opportunities.
- Researching training programs at his local community college
- "I may want a job where I can just work, make a living, come home and forget it until I have to go back to work."
- "I just wanted to work with my hands and do something creative...But the problem is, I would have to pay money to get the training. I would have to live without enough pay to help support my family."
- "There’s nothing a job could offer me that would make me want to give up family time."
I used affinity mapping to cluster the results from our secondary and user research, color coded by information source. The themes that emerged were: learning new skills, trust & network, job search experience, the pandemic, and a breakdown of motivating factors when accepting a job.
Job Stability & Job Flexibility
The coronavirus pandemic has elevated the importance of job stability and flexibility for many.
Job seekers trust their network and local resources more than other sources of career information.
Online Learning Challenges
Maintaining motivation while learning online is difficult, especially with self-paced courses.
Where to Start?
People don’t know which keywords to use for roles and skills when searching to find applicable positions.
Top Motivating Factors
The top motivating factors when making career decisions: work-life balance, workplace culture, and fulfillment.
Help job seekers connect with local resources.
Include indicators of job stability and work-life balance.
Incorporate networking tools.
Help online learners maintain motivation.
Help job seekers make sense of their skillsets in order to find new roles.
Ellie the Switcher Persona Profile: “I want my work to make a difference but where do I get started?” Age: 27. Location: New York City. Education: Bachelors Degree. Status: Committed Relationship. Bio: Ellie is a graphic designer who is considering a career change to find more fulfillment and earn a better salary. She is curious about data analytics and data visualization but doesn’t feel like she has a good understanding of roles in that field. She is unsure about which skills are transferable, which skills she would need to learn and where to find courses to learn online while she continues working at her current job. Motivations (ascending order of most important): Professional growth, fulfillment, company’s mission, workplace culture, job flexibility, salary, work-life balance, job benefits, job stability. Personality: introvert, sensing, thinking, perceiving. Goals: Build on her background as a graphic designer to switch careers. Never stop learning. A flexible job to give her time to prioritize herself. Satisfy both her creative and analytical sides. Frustrations: Overwhelmed by the number of online course providers — who can she trust? Misses the ability to network in-person. She has a lot of student loan debt to pay off, so grad school is not an option. The job titles widely vary in the area she is interested in and she’s not sure what the difference is. Skills: Visual design, data visualization, social media management, writing.
Ethan the Explorer Persona Profile: “I want to know what’s out there first before settling on a specific role.” Age: 18. Location: Pittsburgh. Education: pursuing bachelors degree. Status: single. Bio: Ethan is a college freshman study Computer Science. He heard about future job prospects in the tech industry while in high school. He hopes that CS will combine his creative side with his aptitude for math and result in a stable, well-paying job. As he begins his studies, he is exploring different roles in the field. So far, he prefers to have general skills in CS rather than specialized skills. He’s currently attending college in a hybrid format, which has shown him that he is capable of working remotely in the future. Motivations (ascending order of most important): Professional growth, salary, fulfillment, work-life balance, workplace culture, company mission, job stability, job benefits, job flexibility. Personality: between extrovert and introvert, sensing, thinking, judging. Goals: develop tech skills across many disciplines. Make his parents proud. Desires to work in a place that values diversity. Expand the possibilities of his future. Frustrations: dissatisfied with some skills he’s learned. Few chances to build connections. The same terms can mean different things to different people or companies. Pressure from his family to build financial worth. Skills: IT & Internet, software development, communication, social networks.
Jenn the Changer Persona Profile: “The pandemic has elevated the importance of job stability and flexibility.” Age: 42. Location: Portland. Education: Masters in Journalism. Status: Married with 2 kids. Bio: Jennifer was laid off from her job as an editor at a newspaper during the pandemic and has been looking for work ever since. When researching new jobs, her family motivates her to highly consider work-life balance, salary, and job stability. When she was younger, most of these factors did not matter to her. Her main motivators before she had a family were professional growth and fulfillment. Now because of her kids, 15-year-old Joshua and 10-year-old Emma, she wants to prioritize family time and financial stability. She aspires to save for retirement and help her children afford college education. Motivations: Work-life balance, salary, job stability, job benefits, job flexibility, fulfillment, workplace culture, company’s mission, professional growth. Personality: extrovert, intuition, thinking, perceiving. Goals: reliable source of income for her family. Work-life balance. Transfer her skills to a new job. Find a more stable industry. Quickly learn any needed skills. Frustrations: unwilling to relocate and doesn’t want to lose family time to a long commute. Unsure if paid courses to learn new skills are worth it. Challenges to keep up motivation when learning from video lectures. Job listings and resume examples are full of jargon she doesn’t understand. Skills: Editing, writing, leadership, technology.
- Users did not immediately understand the purpose of Worthi.
- Navigation issues hinder exploration.
- The overuse of the word “Explore” caused confusion.
Worthi’s Next Iteration
Role & Responsibilities
Responsibilities of my role as contract UX researcher with Citi Ventures Studio included: scoping research, writing research goals, writing interview discussion guide, recruiting participants, leading interviews, leading concept testing with a Figma prototype, creating an interactive visual report, presenting the findings, making design recommendations, and facilitating a team prioritization and ideation workshop. I was advised by the Head of Research.
People were checking Worthi out just once...and then never returning. The team was ready to iterate on the tool to make it more useful, something people could use for goal setting, to track their progress in learning skills, and find other resources that would help see them through to landing a job. We hoped to see increased rate of return and overall engagement.
Understand users’ impressions and expectations of the current version of Worthi
To uncover opportunities to redesign the experience to be more useful to users and bring them back to Worthi
To prioritize new features based on user feedback
On the design side, we had involvement from Worthi’s designer, their design manager, and the director of design. They all had a lot of different ideas that they wanted to experiment with in one study — but I only had one hour with each participant, so I had to guide them through scoping and prioritization.
I also worked closely with Worthi's product manager, who controlled the analytics dashboard. This was the first time we were talking to actual Worthi users, rather than just people sourced from the general population. Together, the PM and I came up with the protocol for identifying and contacting users.
Another researcher was conducting a study specifically on Worthi’s onboarding process, executing just a week or so before my study, so I needed to coordinate with her in planning so that the insights from our two studies complimented one another.
User Interviews & Concept Testing
In the one hour 1:1 remote video interviews, I started off with questions to help us better understand the participant’s circumstances and motivations for using Worthi. I talked to people who were just starting their career, another looking to advance in theirs, a person trying to return to work after being laid off during the pandemic, and another who was hoping to change careers completely but weren’t sure of the direction yet.
Understanding the participants’ stories was key to ideating new features and prioritizing what would be most helpful. I then had a brief task that helped us assess if participants realized that the current experience was personalized to them (spoiler alert: they definitely did not). And then I moved into concept testing with an interactive Figma prototype.
I held open research sessions that the stakeholders could attend, and shared little tidbits of info over Slack throughout the week as well.
I make an effort to communicate with different people in different ways so that the insights can be impactful and actionable.
For this study, I gave a share out presentation. I also designed and facilitated a workshop for all the stakeholders that connected the research findings to an activity where we looked at our own experiences learning new skills, and then compared that to the user journey that Worthi offered, as a way to ideate new features. We also took time as a team to prioritize what we thought were the most pressing and most impactful new features. This info was then left in the capable hands of the PM to flush out further and add to the roadmap.
I also created an annotated prototype, which combine the insights directly with the UI. I made this with the designer in mind, and they appreciated how actionable it was, and how easy it was to reference even the smallest notes about how people perceived and interacted with it. My team was also able to easily comment on it and I could answer their questions, even if they weren’t familiar with Figma.
The next iteration of Worthi shipped in fall 2021. Worthi by Citi was a Webby Awards Honoree in the Employment Websites & Mobile Sites category.
“I enjoyed the way that you conducted and presented your research, which felt super real as this was the first time that we recruited and interviewed actual users. Your workshop activity with a reflection on how we actually master skills vs. the Worthi user journey was eye-opening.”
-Linda Ge, Product Manager