Case Study

Job search empowerment

Job search empowerment

Job search empowerment



User Experience Design

User Interface Design

Interaction Design

Clickable Prototype

Project Team

Jake White, Account Manager - Squiz Sonia Pitton, Project Manager - Squiz Donna Moore, Digital Team - Santander Adam Towell, Digital Team - Santander


British grocery superpower Sainsbury's hold a whopping 14.6% of the U.K's market share (according to recent studies), making them the second largest grocery organisation in the United Kingdom.
This being the case, Sainsbury's have a heavy reliance on digital innovation across multiple channels within their business to enable continual growth.

With a total of around 170,000 employees, the Sainsbury's jobs portal already a high traffic website with extraordinary levels of career based content.

With the Sainsbury's Group expanding at pace, they recognised the need to improve their employee acquisition process and approached Squiz with interest in Funnelback (Squiz's best in class search product) to empower the user.

The Brief

Sainsbury's publicly acknowledged a drive to recruit a further 22,000 employees (as published here), and partnered with Squiz to streamline recruitment with digital innovation.

The Sainsbury's jobs portal was home to thousands of jobs at any given time, and relied on plenty of patience from its users in sorting through listings via location and job type tabs. As an out of the box CMS solution Sainsbury's had managed up until this point, but with such rapid growth brought the appetite for employee acquisition at pace, and the current portal wasn't considered a powerful enough tool to bring the level of employees to the table that they required.

Sainsbury's partnered with Squiz to utilise our Funnelback product and digital experties. My role in this was to analyse the existing portal, and provide a streamlined solution that would empower prospective employees when searching for roles within the company.

The Existing

As a part of Sainsburys' ongoing user testing, they were able to provide Squiz with user testing results surrounding the existing user interface, giving us a deeper understanding of how their target audience responded to the current job search experience.

The existing job search experience utilised a location based search interface that would allow users to select their location via a map plotter. Users were also able to use a sidebar to sort their way through locations and job types.

The interface used dated design patterns and components from the previous iteration of the Sainsbury's design system.

The Challenge

Our challenge was to create a Funnelback powered search experience that significantly improved on the existing user experience.

Key drivers of the project included:

  • Engineer a search system that would contribute towards the acquisition of Sainsbury's goal to fill additional 22,000 staff to their national workforce

  • Design a search experience that would accommodate for the application of Sainsbury's latest design system iteration

  • Reduce the number of steps it takes from search to submitting an application

User Research

To discover and understand pain points in the current job search process, I interviewed employees that began their journey using the site, and users currently going through the application process. Off the back of these interviews I collaborated with our technical team to synthesise the findings I had gathered.

We have developed some guiding principles based on our insights:

  1. Intuivity

To further empower users in their journey, we need to ensure they can use 'current location' functionality.

  1. Flexibility

To enable users to apply flexibly, we need to make sure the experience is as refined as can be across all devices.

  1. Simplification

To welcome all user types, we must ensure the interface is as simple to use as possible. No need for frills.

  1. Brand Awareness

We must align the jobs site with the newer Sainsbury's site so that users don't feel redirected.


Off the back of collecting user insights and creating key principles based on user paint points, we were able to clearly define the main complexities within the existing jobs site search.

Department Clarification

We noted that some users found the opening viewport very difficult to understand on a desktop device. With the opening screen relying on users understanding the differentiation between images and hovering over chevrons, we identified this to be a key accessibility flaw in correct labelling. Whilst we understood the idea behind it, the matter of fact was that users found the feature a complication more than they did a solution, and often dropped out at this stage in their journey.

Streamline the User Journey

Users often cited that they ran through too many steps and hit too many walls in their attempt to arrive at the job application phase. Landing pages and their children would often hinder the user in finding results. Users would often find themselves reading walls of information that they deemed unnecessary.

Simplify 'Find A Job' page

Users when using the key 'Find a job' page were presented with a full screen take over of a map, enforcing the use of geographical knowledge. This can be daunting to many, and whilst we understand the interactive approach, Sainsbury's are often turning potential employees away through overwhelming them. Whilst a list option was available, users weren't often aware suggesting that the best approach would be to default the page as a list or SERP style page.

Align Brand

As previously stated, the jobs website was dated in comparison to the standard site. This left users feeling like they had been redirected to a third party website which lost engagement and trust.

The Solution

With each issue being clearly defined, I worked with the Funnelback team in creating a report detailing the technical and ux solutions we would be able to provide.

The main UX & Design inclusions were:

  • Search Concierge - The application of a concierge when the search module is activated to offer users a rapid search result discovery upon typing. The premise of a concierge could reduce multiple steps in their journey, often completely removing the need to use a SERP at all.
    The concierge would house rich data and card based results to engage users and categorise results with every letter typed. This will be applied to the main site search as well as specific in-page search.

  • Better Use Of Geolocation - Embracing the use of modern technology, using a geolocation module (using a Google API) integrated into Funnelback would remove the need for a full screen map and allow the user to quickly filter based on the location of the device they're using. This is measured in longitude and latitude, and when activated will present the user with pre-filtered results that can be sorted by distance from their exact location. Conversion will take advantage of postcode API.

  • Website Widgets - Configuring business logic of the specific widget, output can be in either JSON format or HTML, and increase the 'sort by' with greater detail showing results such as:
    Latest vacancies, latest vacancies relating to <job role page> (job role page will be tagged with the appropriate metadata, & latest vacancies relating to <job role page> ordered by <location> (location cookie will be set and will be used for certain listings).

  • Enhancing SERP - Applying an advanced filter system on the search engine results page to empower search filtering and categorisation (reducing the need for load more/pagination reliance).

  • Aligning Funnelback Templates - Working to make sure projected components all align with the Sainsbury's design system to minimise build time.

Search Architecture

I worked with the technical team in refining an improved search architecture. We took a list of objectives and requirements from Sainsbury's and ran multiple brainstorming sessions to identify how Funnelback would being to streamline each pain-point.

Sketching & Wireframing Solutions

Before booting up any kind of design/wireframing tools, I sketched a number of potential solutions to provide a blueprint for success at pace.

Once a solution was found for each of the requirements, we ran a workshop with Sainsbury's to run them through our solutions, and counter/explore other territories.

Upon defining our problems and providing a solution, we created a technical document that specified functionalities that we were to utilise.

Final Design

Off the back of sign-off, I moved forward into creating high-fidelity templates that were adherent to the Sainsbury's grid system, ensuring all projected components wouldn't require to be built, and be integrated seamlessly.

All design works were created collaboratively with the Funnelback technical team sanitising projections from a technical perspective.


Through using Funnelbacks very own search analytics dashboard (dedicated to pulling search analytics exclusively), Sainsbury's were able to monitor and report vastly improved conversion and engagement very quickly.

My project conclusion amplified that often interactive elements within websites can very quickly reduce the target audience based on accessibility and usability. We often mistake 'advanced interactivity' as a step forward in product / infrastructure evolution, when behind the scenes we may be significantly reducing who can use our systems.

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