How I Made the Internet’s Simplest Resume Builder — A UX Case Study
I’m sure we’ve all been there — you want to help out a family member or friend in a time of need, but you just don’t have the bandwidth to do everything from scratch. When my sister asked for help with her resume a few months back, I turned to the internet for a quick and easy solution. I was surprised to find out that the majority of resume creation tools I found were subpar and didn’t meet my expectations. The few that were up to par were overloaded with features, making them unintuitive for the average user.
Additionally, several of the paid options only allowed users to access the service after signing up, and others had less than transparent pricing methods.
This inspired me to create a resume builder. I was very drawn to this idea because I could help people with something as crucial as their job search, and also because it would be a great way to test my skills in a fun and challenging side project — something I’ve wanted to do for years. It seemed like a win-win scenario.
The goal was then to design an intuitive, user-friendly experience for creating resumes, even for those who are not tech savvy or design-oriented.
Personal projects can be extremely gratifying, but it’s easy to get sidetracked and start adding unnecessary features simply because there’s no deadline.
It was important to be disciplined and to ask myself: which features are going to add the most value to this product?
Design by subtraction
While ResumeMaker.Online had several resume templates to choose from at an early stage of development, users without design knowledge found it difficult to decide which template to use, experiencing what is known as “decision paralysis.”
The product needed to be intuitive and straightforward for any user, while still providing enough features to allow for template customization without creating unnecessary friction points.
To achieve this goal, all features that did not support this core concept were removed, including the ability to choose different templates.
It wasn’t easy to remove all of the advance features that I had spent time building, although it reminded me that the best possible product is not the one that satisfies my own ego, but the one that serves the needs the users.
Invisible design is often the best design. Its role is not to delight the user, but rather to prevent the user from noticing the inconvenience that its absence would bring.
For instance, the typography selector options display each typeface applied, so the user can choose by browsing the menu instead of trying every typeface out one by one.
The elements of the sections sub-menu are arranged according to the placement of the content that each one activates. By establishing this relation, the user can spot the newly added sections without much effort.
Additionally, the download button and other elements’ colors are automatically set based on the main color the user chooses. This complementary color blends in nicely thanks to a script that also checks if it is more convenient to show text labels and icons in either white or black background for better legibility.
Lastly, to improve the applicant’s chances of getting a job interview, the PDF filename contains the user’s name (eg Fernando Pessagno CV.pdf ). This fixes a very typical error when it comes to emailing a resume.
We UX designers are like wizards when it comes to understanding the inner workings of the human mind. We can see into users’ brains and figure out what patterns they’re using to think, and why they’re feeling certain emotions.
But it’s not just about using the right techniques- it’s also about using them in the right context. For example, you wouldn’t use the same persuasion techniques to increase conversions on an e-commerce site that you would use on a resume creation website. If you’re unemployed and desperate to find a job, you’re probably not in the best frame of mind. So we need to be more careful about how we approach you.
In this case, we have a moral obligation to design for evoking positive emotions and create an amazing experience, not to take advantage of users’ vulnerabilities.
Some tools make users go through a tough sign-in process and ask them to re-enter lots of data on forms before letting preview the result, which plays on what’s called the sunk cost fallacy. This means it takes advantage of our tendency to stick with something even if it’s not worth it, just because we’ve already invested time and effort.
As opposed to many of those other tools, ResumeMaker.Online’s users can create their resume on the site without having to sign up for an account — it only takes one click to start.
The data entry is not done through forms, but in real time on the resume. This approach makes the experience more fluid, encourages forward momentum, and gives a greater sense of real progress as the resume takes shape on the page.
These are key factors that can help make writing a resume feel less daunting and ultimately help users stay motivated to finish.
Not only it is faster and easier than most other builders, but it’s designed to be respectful of your time even if you don’t end up liking it, by allowing users to try it right away.
I never could have imagined that my little website would be so popular! In just its first month, ResumeMaker.Online was downloaded more than 20,000 times from over 100 countries. It was even selected as the #1 product of the day and #1 product of the week on Product Hunt! I’m just glad that I can provide a useful service and make the job-hunting process a little easier for everyone. You can check it out here:
I am constantly working on improving it, so be sure to follow me on my #buildinpublic journey at twitter.com/Fer_MOMENTO