Last month the UK’s largest job search engine Monster launched a new mobile version of their well-known website. Upon visiting the standard desktop site it will detect mobile devices and direct them to the appropriate mobile page. The site utilises a m. prefix to enable mobile specific content. This week I take a look at the online recruitment industries newest mobile offspring, does it growl like a dragon or squeak like a goblin?
The Monster employment website brand was created in 1999 from a merger of the two most popular career websites at the time. Owned and operated by Monster Worldwide, Inc. With approximately 5000 employees spread over 36 different countries around the world. Currently the largest job search engine in the world, despite Indeed taking the lead in the U.S.A from 2010.
Monster launched their first mobile service in 2007 shortly after naming Salvatore Iannuzzi as the new chairman and CEO. In the following years Monster has been the subject of strong criticism regarding several data security breaches. So that’s the background, now straight on to the testing!
The home page of Monster’s mobile site is nicely laid out with elements that are well spaced apart. Situated on one side of the header is a ‘sign in’ button, whilst on the other side there is an options button. Three text input fields are provided, each large enough to easily operate meaning little chance of accidently activating an unintended field. The primary action on this page is the ‘search jobs’ button, clearly labelled, well placed and of a good size. Aside from perhaps the options button all other interface elements could be operated via the users thumb. The option button itself isn’t very clearly identified. Upon first inspection I had no concrete idea what it was for, although I could have taken an educated guess and been correct. Additionally on smaller screen devices such as the 3” and less category I found that it was too small to operate without some concentration. I think the option button would benefit from being wider, if it was a similar size to the ‘sign in’ button this would definitely improve the usability.
The job search listings and detail screens come in another nice format, although nothing spectacular in terms of usability as it has a very ‘no thrills’ approach. However, this is the practicality I would expect and want to see as a user browsing for jobs. Some jobs on the listing have what appears to be a ‘Fast Apply’ link but I was unable to get this to work, either because I hadn't had enough information saved to do so or perhaps I was misled and it wasn't an interactive element at all! Even so this was not enough to detract from the overall experience. If it was supposed to be an interactive element than it lacked both feedback and a decent footprint, as it was too small to operate with the thumb.
The job details pages are a direct import of the information found on the desktop site, this is fine, albeit there is no ability to pinch zoom. Not a problem on larger screens but otherwise will cause some issues. The font type, size and format layout of the full job description text is not standardised. In some cases the text is difficult to read based on the presentation, on many it is going to be too small to easily read for users with standard vision let alone users with impairments. I understand that this is out of Monsters control considering the employers create the adverts to their own specifications, nonetheless this isn't an excuse for not providing the tools to allow a user to adapt when needed.
Unfortunately the mobile user has not been considered when it comes to both the Privacy and Terms links, they merely redirect to the mobile unfriendly desktop version of those pages. The rest of the mobile website is great so I don’t understand why they have skimped on this part. As you’ll have probably noticed all of the points I have made are pretty minor, this is because there is not really a lot wrong with the usability of the mobile site. Everything works smoothly, the core functionality is all there, the various saving and uploading functions work perfectly and it feels very polished. The experience is both effective and efficient, which are two of the primary goals for any interactive product.
The total number of requests came in at 26 and during testing the loading speed in Chrome’s developer tools was 1.42 seconds. Using Vodafone's tariffs a single view of the mobile home page would set you back almost 3 pence.
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First things first; I liked the design. It is both minimalistic in terms of aesthetics without looking too bland or uninteresting. The colours worked well and the page was easy on the eye, almost all the elements were easily recognisable and stood prominently out of the design. The header itself is slim but is still able to carry a highly visible Monster name logo, maximising the screen real estate available for content; this is in my opinion how a header should be implemented. The options menu is simple but effective, giving the user quick access to their saved jobs or searches. It has a scheme consistent with phone option menus, particularly Android ones, which assists accordance.
The functional design of the mobile website has included both a saved jobs and job searches page as well as a CV upload facility via Dropbox or Google Drive, allowing up to five CVs to be stored at any one time. Unfortunately when comparing to Monsters desktop site we can see that there is a lot of missing functionality.
The job search parameters are sorely lacking on the mobile version, most of the advanced search options of the desktop version are completely missing and you are forced to live with a paltry three search fields; job title, keywords and location. There is also no ability to make and/or edit a personal profile like there is on the desktop counterpart. This may or may not be an issue for individual users, while I could happily live without the profile management I lament the lack of some of the search parameters, especially being able to set a mileage distance on the search location among other things. For most users I would imagine there would be at least one desired search option that was missing.
All in all, I really like what Monster has achieved here, the appearance is clean, visible and consistent and completely devoid of garish colours or superfluous images, yet it’s instantly recognisable and the branding is appropriate. A small point I would make regards the design of the footer, it seems to me it takes up a lot of space with very little content. It looks aesthetically pleasing but there is definitely wasted space. Additionally the text based links utilised there are a little too close together for my tastes. This thankfully doesn’t detract from the overall good design, the footer is less critical than the other aspects and there is nothing inherently wrong with it on a base level.
I tested Monsters new mobile website with a variety of low and high-end devices, including smartphones and tablets as well as a couple of emulators. I found that the site looks good and performs admirably across the spectrum. I was also pleased with the overall style and theme although the abundance of the colour white doesn't lend itself well to battery consumption. The mobile website is quite different in layout than its bigger desktop cousin but since everything is presented intuitively this wouldn't be a barrier for both existing and brand new users. You may well have heard of the KISS design principle, there is a reason keeping things simple works and I think Monster has managed it well.
What Monster has managed to achieve in great design and usability they have lost somewhat on the performance front. Part of me thinks that the minimal aesthetic design might not have risen from choice but rather from a necessity to stop the site ballooning in page weight. If a simple page without heavy graphical or media elements can reach 742KB, imagine the page weight if it did include such aspects. Other drawbacks of the mobile version is the limited scope for searching, this is where many of the lost points in the other categories stemmed from.
To round it all up I think Monster have done a great job. A few performance tweaks and some added search functionality to make it closer on par to the desktop version would be a continued step in the right direction. The problems that exist are few and far between and the Monster website now has a solid mobile base which offers a good mobile web experience for all the jobseekers out there.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 51Degrees.mobi.