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October 29, 2018 Hey Job Boards! Attract and Retain Users with UX Writing (Really!) Guest Post - Ali Neill, Job Board Tester and Editor at the Jobboard Finder

Hey Job Boards! Attract and Retain Users with UX Writing (Really!)

                The end of the 20th century was the beginning of the internet boom, which has literally taken over the world. Today, we are all connected, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it has changed the way we communicate as well as the way we receive information (like this article you’re reading right now). The impact on sales and marketing is definitely one of the most intriguing because people now have access to as much information about the products they are buying as the salespeople. We are overwhelmed with choice, and it is vital for companies to stand out to attract customers. This goes for job boards too (or we wouldn’t be writing about them), which rely on their customers, be they jobseekers or employers, to remain relevant. So what does this have to do with UX writing? Keep reading and we’ll tell you.

Before UX writing, there was copywriting

UX writing (which means “User eXperience” writing) might be taking the online world by storm, but it would be difficult to explain how it works without first understanding copywriting. In layman’s terms, copywriting consists of rewording a text so that it appeals to the targeted reader. Copywriting is a part of marketing, so the aim is to get attention and to sell better (that sounds vague but we’re building up to something). Before the internet, the equivalent of “copywriting” was present in postcards and magazine adverts, which had to be attractive so that people would buy products or travel. Now, copywriting focuses on improving online adverts, newsletters, promotional offers, etc.

This technique involves more than just well-worded content; it’s really about targeting a particular audience, appealing to their needs and creating an interaction. For example, as a job board, you might want to encourage your subscribers to visit the site to receive more clicks. In order to do so though, you need to put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes: why would the subscriber want to visit your site (other than the obvious reason: it’s awesome)? Once you’ve found some good reasons (the blog has interesting articles, the job offers are updated and relevant, there are many other frequent users, etc.), you can write a more successful newsletter (easy!).

Even before the content though, there is the subject bar. If subscribers don’t even open the newsletter, the content is irrelevant. Various research from the Carnegie Mellon University has confirmed that people are attracted to content that tickles their curiosity or that states clearly the core message. However, a combination of the two can have a negative effect on their engagement (ironically enough). To read more on the importance of headings and attracting readers by understanding copywriting, you can check out Brian Clark’s website on copyblogging.

Understanding UX writing

Now that we’ve defined copywriting, we can move onto UX writing. Content that calls for action can only go so far. As we mentioned before, the subject of an e-mail (or the title of an article) can greatly impact whether or not the recipient actually continues reading (our title made you curious, right?). If it doesn’t seem interesting enough, they might just gloss over it, as if they didn’t even see it. Visibility is essential for any form of marketing, but that doesn’t just mean being materially visible. To ensure that your job offers, your articles or your e-mails are actually seen, you need to draw attention to them and maintain the attention.

That’s exactly what UX writing aims to do (finally! we’re getting somewhere). Once you’ve mastered copywriting and you have created relevant content with an appealing layout, you can move onto adding UX writing. Remember that UX stands for “user experience” and so your focus is quite simply on how users experience your job board. The point is to guide users through your website, as if you were actually there with them. Your users need to communicate with your job board, and your job board needs to communicate back.

A part of UX writing is microcopy, which really embodies the attention to detail that the technique requires. Essentially, you are giving your users hints in order to help them find the right information on your job board. To do so, buttons, small messages, icons, flashy titles can all create an interaction between the user and the job site. But wait! Before you start adding pop-ups and useless links to your job board, let us tell you how to use UX writing efficiently.

UX Writing on your job board

Some big companies can afford to hire a UX writer or content strategist to oversee their online content and to offer a solid direction for their image. Unfortunately, that isn’t a feasible solution for everyone. What we wish to highlight though is the title “content strategist”, because that’s exactly what job boards need to keep in mind when adding to their website: strategy.

The UX writing can only be efficient if you have defined some clear goals for your job board. To start with, it’s important to consider what makes your job board different from the competition. Consider asking the following questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What can I offer my users that other job boards don’t have?
  • Who actually visits my job board?

The second series of questions you need to ask focus on the users: jobseekers and employers. When someone is looking for a job, they want clear, easy-to-find information. When someone is looking to hire, they also want clear, easy-to-find information and a fast response. Try to put yourself in the jobseeker’s position:

  • Who is using my job board and why?
  • Are they excited about a new job opportunity?
  • Are they curious about the labour market?
  • Or are they desperately looking for work to pay their bills?

As for the employers, their objectives and motivations are slightly different:

  • How quickly do they need to fill the position?
  • Is the position hard to fill and have they tried other recruiting methods?
  • How time consuming is it to receive unusable CVs?

These questions will help you include the appropriate information on your job board to make it informative and user-friendly (well, more user-friendly). The finished product of a job board is usually made up of contributions by a number of people. These people include the job board staff, but also the companies advertising on the website. The trouble with many contributors is that the unity of the product can get lost. Everyone has a different style, a different tone and a different language. Inconsistencies in marketing (be it for a job board or a company) can be detrimental to the company brand. The difficulty for a job board is to allow for customized job offers and/or company pages without losing the overall unity of their own website. It seems like a small detail, but as a job board tester for The Jobboard Finder, it is actually rather frustrating to see radically different job offers on the same job site. Once again, unity needs to be a key focus of your UX writing strategy.

Finally, UX writing allows for more personality on a job board. As we said before, you want to interact with your users and you want them to interact with you. By including little messages telling them, you can influence your users in a positive way. The messages can convey a general opinion (“this is a great job”) or they can be more direct and personal (“we can tell from your searches, that these articles could interest you”). However, it’s easy to overstep the boundaries, which is a common mistake for some job boards that pester their users with information and e-mails. An easy way to avoid annoying certain users is to make unsubscribing clear and to ask for feedback. If a computer was talking to you, what would you want to hear? We hope job boards everywhere have a clearer idea.


Ali Neill is the job board tester and editor for the Jobboard Finder, the largest job board search engine.