Did you know?
In 2023, there are “over 2 million people incarcerated” in the United States (see World Population Review).
On top of that, “More than 440,000 people returned home from state and federal prisons in 2021 alone, while yearly releases from local jails are estimated in the millions.” (See full article at ojp.gov.)
Employment links to purpose
The main purpose of job again is to help facilitate higher rates of post-release employment.
Research and studies show that “Having a job, however, has been shown to reduce recidivism, and individuals are less likely to commit crimes when they have stable, full-time employment.”
While some people who were formerly incarcerated may not be actively seeking full-time employment, statistics show that they represent a minority of the population.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, “Formerly incarcerated people want to work. Their high unemployment rate reflects public will, policy, and practice — not differences in aspirations.”
Researching the need for a Job Again native mobile app
User research showed that the majority of people who will use Job Again are more likely to access the internet using mobile devices. This informed my decision to design for mobile devices first.
It also became apparent that a complementary native mobile app, dedicated to performing a job search and submitting applications, would be a necessary addition to the product design.
Can you explain the hardest part of finding a job as someone who has been incarcerated?
"The hardest part of finding a job as someone who has been incarcerated is the stigma. The gap in work experience also doesn't help." - User Interview participant
Solutions for common pain points
I conducted unmoderated usability testing to gain further clarity on how to best address common pain points. The user personas (pictured below) represent examples of real people who might use Job Again to conduct their job search.
Rapid iteration + Low-fi paper wireframes
After sketching 8 different possible layouts for the homepage on mobile devices, I picked out two, to use as references for their digital counterparts.
Once I was done converting paper wireframes to digital format in Figma, I began adding animations and transitions between the individual screens that make up the User Flow.
When that was complete, I used my low fidelity digital prototype for the first round of unmoderated usability testing.
Refining the prototypes
Although designing for mobile devices first was a priority, I also made sure to include designs for the sometimes neglected tablet and laptop viewport widths.
This helps ensure a seamless user experience for users no matter what device they use to browse the web.
Using data synthesis to inform changes
Results from the usability testing made it clear that updates were needed. Areas of updates included a rearranging of the information architecture, and more concise copy to direct user traffic.
After I made the necessary changes to improve the user flow and information architecture, I refined the user interface design. As you can see in the examples below, a clean UI is not only necessary, but industry-standard.
The native mobile app has a fairly complex user flow that can be simplified by sectioning the screens into three main steps. They are as follows:
- Sign up/Login
- Search Jobs/Submit applications
- Send Follow-up/Track applications
The native mobile app in action
The native mobile app also allows users to:
- Enter employment history (which is stored for all future applications)
- Search for jobs based on both category and years of experience
- Submit job applications
- Track applications, communicate interview availability, monitor employer responses, and follow up on applications
Looking back at the process (and forward to the results)
Taking a step back to look at the final designs and interactive digital prototypes helps put things into perspective. The final product is a great representation of a much-needed service with potential to impact millions of lives.
Will there be a live launch?
As of now, Job Again is not preparing for a live launch. If Job Again was going to be built out and developed into a live responsive website and native mobile application, the next step would be to prepare each design for developers.
This might include making clear annotations that specify the HTML/CSS for each individual element, along with any additional design specifications including a sticker sheet or custom design system.