Months ago, when my sister asked me for help with her resume, I was too busy to design one from scratch. I looked up for a resume creator to quickly assist her, but after trying many of the tools available, I was surprised to find out that most of them did not meet my expectations. The small group of websites that did do a good job had too many features, which made them unintuitive for the avarage user.
Moreover, many of the paid options forced users to sign-up before even allowing them to test the service, and a few others had a dishonest and non-transparent pricing methods.
The idea of building a resume maker tool was very appealing to me. On the one hand, I could help people in something as important as their job search and, on the other, it was a great way to put my skills to a test in a challenging and fun side project, something I have wanted to do for years. It was an ideal win-win scenario.
The goal was then to design a 100% free, honest and straight forward experience for users to create their resume intuitively, even if they are not tech savvy or good at design.
Working on personal side projects can be very rewarding for any designer, but without a client that needs the work to be done by a certain date, it is common to fall into the temptation of adding unnecessary features only because there is time to do so.
I had to ask myself: which of all possible features are going to add real value to this product?
Design by subtraction
At an early stage of development, ResumeMaker.Online had several resume templates to choose from. Those people with some kind of knowledge in design would quickly pick the one that suited them better, but how could a user without that type of knowledge be sure which one to choose?
As the product’s main strength was set to be its simplicity of use, it needed to provide enough features to have users percieve they can customize the resume template, though not too many since that would spawn unnecessary friction points.
To accomplish it, I subtracted all the features that did not fully support the core concept, including the ability to choose different templates.
It was an important exercise which reminded me that the best possible product is not the one that feeds my own ego, but the one that serves a large audience.
The best details in design are invisible. Their role is not to delight the user, but to prevent him/her from noticing the inconvenience that its absence would bring to the table.
For example, the typography selector options have each typeface applied to them, so the user can choose by browsing through the menu instead of trying every typeface out, one by one.
The elements of the sections sub-menu are arrenged according to the placement of the content that each one activates. Through establishing this relation, the user can spot the newly added sections without much effort.
In order to increase the perception of customization and keep most visitors from using the same main color, it randomly changes each time the website loads.
Additionally, the download button is highlighted by using the complementary color of the main color, which is set dynamically via a code that even calculates if it is more convenient to show its text label in black or white in favour of legibility.
Lastly, to make the recuriter/employer work easier and improve the applicant´s chances to get a job interview, the name of the PDF file that is generated contains the user´s name (eg Fernando Pessagno CV.pdf ), thus fixing a very typical error when it comes to emailing a resume.
As UX designers it is our job to empathize with users to recognize cognitive patterns, but also to understand their emotions.
In this sense, context matters. It is not the same, for example, to apply persuasion techniques to increase the conversion rate on an e-commerce, than doing so in resume creation website. There is no issue at all with monetizing a service of this sort, but when persuasion techniques pivot around people who may be unemployed and desperate to find a job, there is a moral obligation to apply them responsibly, instead of taking advantage of the user´s vulnerable emotional state.
I have seen cases where a service is promoted as free and, just when the user finishes building a beautiful resume, it reveals that most of the editing features are blocked behind a paywall. That is simply unethical.
Neither is it acceptable to appeal to the sunk-cost fallacy by forcing users to sign-up and fill in all the data of their resume through tedious forms without them being able to preview the output. This is another type of practice that only adds the opposite of what a person looking for a job needs: more frustration.
ResumeMaker.Online works differently. It is 100% free (donation-based), signing-up is not required and it takes the user only one click to transition from loading the site to being able to edit the resume. Instant gratification.
The data entry is not done through forms, but in real time on the resume. This helps to convey a sense of real progress, creates momentum and turns a cumbersome task into more pleasant experience.
Even if the user does not like the resume template, through this — what you see is what you get — interface, he or she can decide to leave the site without wasting additional time.
The preview feature really adds little or no value at all when it comes to examining the resume, but it makes sense on an emotional level. Appreaciating a 3D representation of the resume as if it is already printed on paper grants a great feeling of acomplishment and can build confidence, a key factor during the (more often than not) daunting job seeking process.
At the time of releasing the website I only knew that at least my sister was not going to need my help with her resume again. However, it was a way more successful launch that I could have ever anticipated. ResumeMaker.online was selected #1 product of the day + #1 product of the week on Product Hunt and more than 20,000 resumes were downloaded from more than 100 countries during the first month.