It’s finally here! When we first started the Placements Office we knew we wanted to create a great way to advertise our opportunities to students within the Faculty. It’s taken a while to get there but on Monday, we went live with the board to second year students on BSc Marketing and BSc Accounting & Finance. We’ll roll it out to the rest of our students in the Faculty over the coming weeks.
We hope you find the board intuitive and hassle-free. You will see that we are primarily using it to advertise year-long placements but in time more internships and other short-term projects will appear for all students whether at the Winchester School of Art, Southampton Law School, or Southampton Business School.
Developing the jobs board was not without its frustrations and looking back, we learnt a lot in the process. Some of the lessons learned are applicable to all sorts of project management so here are my tips for anyone embarking on an ambitious development:
#1 – Research the competition
When creating anything new, it’s really worth checking out what others with a similar product are doing. This works in two ways: first, you can observe what works for others, and build it into your design. Secondly, by exploring the limitations or frustrations you encounter when using someone else’s product, you can reflect and make sure that your design doesn’t have these flaws.
#2 – Think of your user
When embarking on a project it can be easy to get bogged down in making it as advanced, or technical, or as complex as possible. You think you’ll have a product that blows everyone away, but in reality, you might just impress a few people with your know-how, and annoy the rest of your user base. When making something for other people, remember the people you are making it for! Imagine their experience, put yourself in their shoes. Does it provide a good experience for them?
#3 – Build delays into your project plan
When we first started work on the board, we ambitiously thought it would be ready for the beginning of the autumn term. We were out by about six weeks, primarily because our original aim was a ‘best case’ scenario. In reality, ‘best case’ scenarios are rarely encountered in development: issues get stuck with other people, the learning curve proves to be steeper than you, or other things interfere with your time. Next time, I’ll build delays into the time frame and hey – maybe people will be impressed when it arrives earlier than they expect!
#4 – Test, test, test!
Building on point #2, one of the most important things we did when developing the jobs board was asking students what they thought of the board whilst it was in development. This proved invaluable – they immediately brought up issues which we’d overlooked – and further testing with the help of colleagues also threw up issues which we’d otherwise neglected. Sure, you can tinker with things after you’ve released a product, but better to release one that is ready and functional from the outset.
#5 – Analyse
So this isn’t something we learnt per se, but certainly something we will be doing with the jobs board that will greatly enhance its utility. There are a wealth of ways in which to track a website’s success, and by doing so, you can see what content your users are interested in. In the case of the jobs board, this will give us a good indicator of what sort of jobs students are interested in, what words make a job stand out, or what sort of blog posts our readers appreciate! Analysing the way your users and/or customers interact with your development is invaluable, whether offline or online.
So that’s five of the many lessons I learned when developing the jobs board. I think they apply to all sorts of development and I’ll be sure to keep them in mind when embarking on our next venture. Do you have any tips of your own?
Until next time!