The three job sites that I evaluated were Monster.ca, Eluta.ca and Workopolis.com. These are three major job sites in Canada. Workopolis and Monster're older and are more popular in terms of traffic (Alexa.com, see graph), while the newer Eluta trails by quite some distance at this point. The graph shows their Alexa ranking for Canada, obviously with the lower number being better.
These three sites were evaluated on the basis of their content and user experience. The three sites were tested through randomly searching jobs in finance here in Toronto. For the user, the quality of the jobs is another proxy that can be looked at -- the best sites will have the best jobs. There are a number of dimensions along which the sites can be evaluate -- their functionality, their aesthetics and pragmatic considerions. If it doesn't look good, people will be turned off quickly. If the site does not function as intended, then people will quickly leave. If there are too many barriers to getting things done, the user may also decide to leave. Lastly, if the user cannot execute on what they came to the site for, they may not return. So these are the three major dimensions on which these three websites were evaluated, something that has been mirrored in other studies, like Douglas & Mills' study (2004) on Caribbean tourism websites. These factors have been demonstrated to be critical to fostering repeat visits and therefore ultimately for revenue generation. As Bai, Law and Wen (2008) note:
"Results indicate that website quality has a direct and positive impact on customer satisfaction and that customer satisfaction has a direct and positive impact on purchase intentions. While the influence of website quality on purchase intentions exists, customer satisfaction does significantly mediate this effect."
The aesthetics of a website affect the user experience. Sites that look good will be perceived as being superior, even if that is not the case. If it looks like it was built on a 1996 AOL kit, that would have to be considered negative. Even finance grads like things that look nice. Knight and Pandir (2004) note that key variables in the study of website aesthetics are "complexity, interestingness and pleasingness."
Functionality is another key element in the effectiveness of a website. The site must function as intended. This is a basic prerequisite for any Internet site, but job sites I particular must meet this condition. First, job sites will record your personal information from your CV, so trusting the site is important and a lack of functionality will betray trust. Furthermore, people using the site will be active every day, so the site must function at all times. Code must be perfect, and when something goes awry, it must be repaired immediately. Ease of use, multimedia and rich content are three variables relating to functionality (Zhou, 2009).
Finally, pragmatic considerations are also important in evaluating a website. Every website has a function, and for a website to be considered effective it needs to fulfill that function. In this case, the sites are designed to bring together job seekers with companies that have jobs. Thus, the number of jobs on each site will be evaluated, along with the fit of the jobs to the target market (a finance grad) and the ease with which an application for the position can be filed.
The first site to be evaluated is Workopolis, which is owned in part by Torstar and has a nationwide presence. Aesthetically, the site is a bit dated. There is a generic search bar at the top, two colours, and the eye is not really drawn anywhere. This does not score highly, but nor is it offensive.
In terms of functionality, there are some issues. A basic search for "Accounting/Finance" not only failed to give the choice between one or the other, it failed to give me a choice to narrow down my location. I'm not looking for a job in Calgary or Winnipeg but that's what came up. Furthermore, the search results are confined to a narrow band at the bottom of my screen, so that I have to scroll the screen down to reach them. Most of the screen is taken up with a banner ad at the top, another one down the right hand side and some other ad in a middle banner that chews up all the prime on-screen real estate to tell me that I'm looking at accounting and finance jobs. This is the dated design getting in the way of functionality. Once I find the button for advanced search, I am confronted with prompts for four types of key words. That's a lot of work for no marginal increase in functionality. I entered finance as a keyword, Toronto for location but otherwise left it open, and got a popup window for my effort. This barrier detracts from the website. I received a selection of random finance jobs in Toronto, all that I asked for. I then embarked on a finely-tuned search for a "Senior Budget Analyst." I received a wider range of jobs than I was expecting, but did get a selection of Senior Financial Analyst positions. These were sorted by date, which is good for me if I come back tomorrow to search the jobs again.
From a pragmatic perspective, it is apparent that the initial search is all but useless because there was no opportunity to tailor it to my needs. I am not logged in, so I can only email the job to myself, which is a start. Presumably with a membership I would be able to apply directly using a CV that I've uploaded. I clicked on a position offered at Bell. Again, the aesthetics get in the way -- I have a giant banner repeating back to me the title of the position and employer. I get a giant ad from Bell as well. I have to scroll down to get any useful information about the job -- another barrier. The job, ultimately, has nothing to do with Senior Budget Analyst, so it's a dead link to me.
Overall, Workopolis suffers from dated design, mediocre functionality, multiple barriers to getting what I want, and it is pretty hit or miss as to whether many of the jobs are even applicable.
Aesthetically, Monster is as dated as Workopolis. I should seek work as a web designer as apparently we lack them here in Canada. I immediately see a search box taking up half my screen, and goodness knows what that is at the bottom -- photos and links to articles maybe? It's not obvious. But there's a lot of it. It just goes on and on, rather excessive for a home page. At the top we lose a full-length section at the top to ask me if I want to keep English as my language. Mais non! Look, I'm not logging on from a francophone or bilingual part of the country, we can make this question less disruptive to my site experience.
From a functional perspective, my initial search query let me enter Toronto, which was nice, but after telling me there were 456 such jobs, it didn't show me any. I had to scroll off the screen, a pointless barrier used to shove an ad in my face. The entire top third of the screen is also ads. When I tried to go back to the homepage, I got hit with a popup. It would not let me leave the popup and when I clicked the 'x' on the popup I ended up having gone nowhere -- I was on the search results with the back button my on browser blocked out. The website just gave me the middle finger when I asked it to perform a simple task like going back so I could re-try my search. I'm done with this site.
From a pragmatic perspective, Monster.ca threw the most absurd, unprofessional barriers at me, leaving me with a very rudimentary search. You can click on those, but I need to be able to move freely around the website. The jobs that did come up show as ads first, making me scroll down. There is a brief description of the position, but really they're not doing anything to sell me. Also, I never was able to search for my specific position. And I'm annoyed with this website.
This website opens with a simple, clean, Google-esque homepage. Functionally, this is the same page as Monster but with a professional design. After the first basic search, the design travels back in time to 1997, and the page is mostly ads and dead space. The positions are listed in really basic font…it just doesn't look good.
Clicking on a job pops up a new tab with the job description -- one fewer click than the other two websites. The new tab doesn't look great, but it has all the pertinent information. Also, I can leave that…