Marketing and UX Analysis towards CareerVillage


We’ll be analyzing a website called CareerVillage (, which offers an online platform for posting and answering questions related to career, as well as career plans reviewing.


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Key Objectives

CareerVillage attempts to solve a “huge global problem”: the limitation of network approach of students from low-income communities leading to a significant barrier in the charting path to gainful employment. CareerVillage’s slogan is “to democratize access to career information and advice”. They aim to help young people (especially teenagers) to create professional goals and understand their personal paths to those goals. CareerVillage attempts to achieve this by using crowdsourcing to provide the personal career guidance at massive scale.

Bottom Line:

  • Serve 1,500,000+ students;
  • Cover 10000+ career topics;
  • Offer access to 15,000 working professional volunteers.

Overall Strategy

CareerVillage’s selling point is providing tailored advice for students, and it’s reliable, encouraging and inspirational. The product primarily works to support youth in low-income communities, students who plan to become the first in their family to attend college, students who are first-generation immigrants, young people of color, and young women interested in STEM careers. These are communities traditionally lacking the access to abundant career advice. CareerVillage endeavors to fill the gap between career role models and future workers.

On a well-marked corner on CareerVillage’s webpage, they post links to its Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram homepage.  CareerVillage actively publishes on its SNS accounts, especially on Twitter – they frequently post content on career guidance events and hot questions to attract public’s attention. Apart from attracting individual users, CareerVillage pays particular attention to ‘educator’ users, telling them on Twitter how CareerVillage helps to provide better career education. The latest Twit was posted 2 days ago.

A search of ‘find a mentor’ on Google leads to an entry of CareerVillage on the bottom of the second page in search results. CareerVillage pays for Google Ads as a way of increasing visibility.

Market Advantage

CareerVillages shows up on the bottom of the 2nd page of Google search “find a mentor” results, and on the bottom of the 2nd page of Bing search “ask career question” results. They are both mixed with “how-to” articles. Although the position of 2nd page is not perfect, when the search engine user ignores the “how-to” articles, they are very likely to find the existence of CareerVillage.

The most valuable asset on CareerVillage is the answers provided by its “volunteers”. Now, CareerVillage claims to have more than 1,5000 volunteers. Because of founders’ background, many of the volunteers are from large enterprises like McKinsey, and they are offering high-quality guidance in the business field.

Marketing Profile

When CareerVillage was founded in 2011, its target was to help high school students. Now their target users have been extended to all students above 5th grade, including college students. At the very beginning, the only few “volunteers” are the founders’ friends. This number became 500 in 2014, and 15,000 in this year.

CareerVillage’s matching algorithm separates it from other online forums. When a student posts a question, the algorithm analyzes this issue and matches it to volunteers who have relevant skill sets. Then this question is pushed to the volunteers via emails. This algorithm assures an efficient matching between students and volunteers and saves volunteers’ time in browsing questions.

A Google search of “CareerVillage” reveals scarce advertising articles targeting individual users, but a lot of investors, and a few of educators. Thus it can be seen CareerVillage makes great effort to attract investors’ attention, and their marketing strategy is to acquire student users through teachers. An educator user can create “cohorts” to give students access to CareerVillage. They also publish several guide articles for educators on a Medium blog.

CareerVillage claim to have helped over 2,000,000 people and won awards/funding from institutions like LinkedIn,, BlackRock, FFWD and MassChallenge. So they have a good public image.

SWOT Profile

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UX Analysis

CareerVillage provides a responsive website. They have no native app. The users’ behaviors on the website are mainly browsing and text input.


CareerVillage has yielded a new casual appearance to their website in April. The thick strokes, rounded corners, and Lato font face pass the information that this should be a much usable site. In fact, though some microinteractions do contribute satisfying user experience, there is still room for improvement looking from the perspective of achieving user’s goal.

For example, when the user follows a question, and this is not the first question he follows, he should not be asked to tell the website his contact information again. Because the user is already logged in, so the website knows who he is; and it’s not the first time, so the user has already told the website before.

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However, the user is faced with a pop-up window asking the information, again and again, every time he follows a question. This is undoubtedly frustrating. Of course, it would be best if the user never has to type this information after clicking the follow button, because his email has already been associated with his user account. The website could just send updates to this email address.


CareerVillage adapted a grid system to help layout their webpage, but the outcome leaves a bit to be desired.

Let’s take student user’s view for example. First off, there are two main sections in the website’s content: Questions and Career Plans. But there is no obvious visual clue to let the user know the structure immediately.

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Secondly, the search bar on the top of the page is too wide. Its width is almost the same with the screen, which is unnecessary and decreases the usability of the search button.

The content below the search bar is arranged in a 3-column layout, looking neat and structured. However, the user profile in the left column is not necessary to appear on this page, because user’s primary purpose here is to browse career questions, while the user profile takes up too much page space. Meanwhile, the sorting (called “Order” here) is in the right column, and it’s not so intuitive since most sortings are on the top of the content or the left.

Navigation Structure

In general, the navigation structure of CareerVillage is easy to understand, except one biggest struggle – looking for “Ask a question” button. This button does not show on the homepage (or dashboard page), but only appears when the user comes to a particular question’s page, and clicking on it means “when you finish reading this question, and you’re sure yours is different, you can now ask.” Asking questions is assuredly an important feature of the website, and a start point of creating more content for the website, so it is supposed to be strengthened.


CareerVillage puts their product on the Web, and applied responsive design, so there’s a good compatibility for almost all desktops and mobile devices.


The biggest advantage of CareerVillage is to push questions accordingly to volunteers based on the tags assigned to the questions. This recommendation mechanism is more efficient than that of Quora, because the combination of multiple tags can help calculate relevance between volunteers and issues more precisely, therefore finding the most appropriate question answerer.

However, the conversation between volunteers and question askers can hardly be called effective advice for career development. Because the career is a complex problem to talk about, and the conversation on CareerVillage is always single round. When a question is answered by a volunteer (with usually 5 to 15 lines), the issue is seemed closed, and there is no further communication between the asker and the volunteer. Not to speak of the questions that are still not answered since a long time. If the student hadn’t described his situation in detail when asking, he had no other chance to talk with the volunteer in depth.

Calls to Action

There is quite effective log-in guidance on the homepage (before logged in). A huge tagline “Have questions about your future” arrests user’s eyeballs immediately, and naturally leads the eyesights to a button “Get them answered.” When the user clicks on this button, the website asks the user to sign in or sign up.

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(This article is also posted on Medium:

Talk with Tony Hogan

I am more than surprised and excited, finding my English teacher Tony Hogan an experienced designer, a Googler, and someone sharing similar career transferring experience with me.

Tony was a design director in London before moving to Spain. He is now teaching himself coding and database and running a tech-based project.

What Tony inspired me on UX and career today is far more valuable than the scheduled English topic “perfume”. In the rest of this post, I’m be summarizing my takeaways from our talk today.

1. Find common language

The course started like an ordinary one until Tony heard from my saying “I’m a user experience designer.” Then he asked me two straightforward questions:

1) What do you do on a daily basis?
2) What software do you use?

It’s often diverse when it comes to the answers to question: what is user experience design? – Not only designing websites! As reminded by Don Norman. So beginning with picturing daily routines and tools applied is a good idea.

2. On design

1) Graphic design is: you have a concept, I can quickly put it on the paper;
2) Go for good, clean, and easy-to-use design;
3) As a user, I have these (microphone, timer, buttons) and don’t want anything else; anything else is distracting;
4) Remember: less is more, and; function over decoration.

3. Advises for junior designer

1) Unless it’s really difficult, stay with it;
2) You look young enough to adapt new;
3) People criticize, they look areas to criticize;
4) Bigger knowledge is always helpful.

Fun part:
Tony asked whether I’ve studied somewhere outside of China. “Amsterdam, I did my first year of Ph.D. there.”

Aha, I knew that. You have a Dutch accent!

Task flow vs. interaction flow

It’s not uncommon for UX practitioners to confuse between task flow and interaction flow when it comes to task analysis. Although the two share pretty similar forms, they differ from each other because they serve distinct purposes.

A task flow focuses on the user’s goal and how the user achieves this goal. In reality, there is always a gap between user’s current situation and the goal. To cross over the gap and reach the goal, the user must take certain key steps. And the key steps are what to cover in a task flow.

Let’s take Yelp for an example. A user’s purpose is to have a great dinner. To have the great dinner, he needs to arrive at a restaurant. And to arrive at the restaurant, he needs to direct from current point to the restaurant. To direct to the restaurant, he needs to choose one restaurant. And these are what to cover in a task flow.

It doesn’t matter if the user swipes or taps on the screen, or whether he reads a restaurant’s comments. Likewise, it doesn’t matter what messages pop up to the user or what navigation app does Yelp brings him to. These user actions and system feedbacks fall under the umbrella of interaction flow.

An interaction flow directs on the interactions between the user and the product which assist the user completing his goal. These interactions include the appearances of the interface, the gestures the user performs, and the feedbacks the system gives.

While an interaction flow reveals micro steps, a task flow stands on a higher level. The task flow is a powerful tool because it lays a foundation for the product’s information architecture.

Information architecture, which is majorly about organizing a product’s content, is determined by the user’s task flow. By looking into the key steps in a task flow, the designer could clarify what types of information to cover and what hierarchy the information follows.

Excerpts from Book: Grid Systems in Graphic Design

Müller-Brockmann, J. (1996). Grid systems in graphic design: a visual communication manual for graphic designers, typographers and three dimensional designers. Arthur Niggli.

Every visual creative work is a manifestation of the character of the designer. It is a reflection of his knowledge, his ability, and his mentality. (Page 10)


Information presented with clear and logically set out titles, subtitles, texts, illustrations and captions will not only be read more quickly and easily but the information will also be better understood and retained in the memory. This is a scientifically proved fact and the designer should bear it constantly in mind. (Page 13)



Mobile Paper Mockup

I made this paper mockup in shape of iPhone 6S this morning.


It’s made of fluting paper. I got some from a parcel box.


I can sketch prototypes on blank paper, and cross the prototype through below the pink frame on my mockup, and then ask users questions in agile usability testing.


Blank paper could slide vertically and also horizontally.



Pogo-Sticking Effect

Pogo-sticking is defined as going back and forth from a search engine results page (SERP) to an individual search result destination site. In other words, pogo-sticking is when the searcher clicks on a link on a SERP, sees that it’s not what she is looking for, and immediately bounces off by hitting the back button. She then chooses another result from the results page to satisfy her informational need.

– Joe Breed, Weekly SEO Tip: How to Avoid the Pogo-Sticking Effect (Nov 22, 2013), retrieved from: