Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brand new shiny website for Claire's

Blood, sweat, tears, glitter and sequins! It's been a busy fair few months, but after writing a painstakingly organised 29 page "Website and Technical Solution" document (it was mostly wireframes and designs with explanatory text), producing some very refined and carefully constructed Visio wireframes, many iterations of  interface design, a 50 page copy deck, several meetings and a thorough build and QA cycle the reward is here - a brand new careers website for Claire's - see www.clairescareers.co.uk. (Which they love!)

The old site (see below) was off brand and clunky. While a great piece of work when it was launched it had dated.  The biggest challenge I saw were bring a fashion brand like Claire's to life online while at the same time providing a clean and quick user experience for what is essentially a very content heavy site. The solution, jumbo-drop down.

The new site features at the top level large seasonally updated background imagery to position Claire's Careers not just as a recruitment site but to highlight it's a recruitment site for a fashion brand! As you drill deeper into the content the images become banner headers, randomly selected on page load, so that it is the copy and not the image that dominates. Still, Claire's products and seasonal photography dominate every element of the site from the backgrounds, page heading to the drivers that help guide users to related content on the right hand side of every page.

The jumbo nav lets users drill down to the content most relevant to them in one click rather than a convoluted search through landing pages and various navigation elements.

We wanted to introduce a social element to the site so every page features the latest tweets from the Claire's Career's twitter account. Every page, including job postings, contain share this links to Twitter and Facebook and "Add this" which covers most of the other major social networks.
To encourage engagement with the Claire's Careers channels every page also gives the user the ability to quickly join their Twitter, YouTube or Facebook channels. 
The site has been built to be as accessible as possible. While it is not mobile optimised, the way it has been developed means it will work on most smartphones to a degree. Every element of the site has been built with a layer of graceful degradation in mind. If you don't have JavaScript, no problem - you can still use the nav, you can still view video, and any flash components are not core to the journey and are politely hidden from sight. The navigation will need some tweaking to get it fully working on an iPhone, but not much.

To offer a level of interactivity, and to make a break from the tedium of reading through reams of copy, we've introduced video profiles to give an insight into what some Claire's employee's do. To avoid hosting costs, and because it just works, we decided to use YouTube instead of building a bespoke player. By default you will see the video played in full, for example see Glenn Pollards video profile, but you can skip to individual questions from a menu below (our MD's idea, a source of much grumpiness from me, but worth it). Each segment is supported by a transcript for those who are hard of hearing or just sneaking a look while at work.

All drivers are content managed from a central library and all the random seasonal images pull from a set folder. When we want to add the next seasons imagery it will take 5 minutes rather than running through everypage changing individual images.

The homepage features a carousel of drivers, easily content managed, to promote urgent roles and key content in the site. To make it flexible there are different driver types - big image with a link, big image with text and a link (two layouts), or a flash box (with an image fallback). Watch that space for some creative promotions in the future.

Online application - of course one of the biggest parts of the old and this site is the ability to apply entirely online using ThirtyThree's very powerful, and all ours, Applicant Tracking System. And if you don't find what you want today you can sign up for job alerts - forgotten your password, that's a new feature too (surprisingly!).

What else? A global search, links to the many European sister sites (Claire's a transnational company btw), site help, application help and a plan to roll this site out across Europe.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this project is Phase 2. I can't tell you much, it's a big secret at the moment! What I can say is we'll be trying something that, to my knowledge, has never been tried in the recruitment comms industry before. Fingers crossed it'll be a rip-roaring success and we'll be seeing some big accolades for Claire's Careers and ThirtyThree.

1 comment:

Tony Green said...