SkillLab

A new product that helps people express their skills and discover pathways to social and economic participation.

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Designing the SkillLab MVP

SkillLab believes that no one should be deprived of dignity and livelihood simply because their skills are invisible. SkillLab's mobile application uses artificial intelligence to help people capture their skills, explore careers, and apply for jobs.

SkillLab asked me to design the first iteration of their product. I worked closely with Ragnar Martens and Azza El Hayek from SkillLab’s product team to create a clear and simple user experience that allows job seekers to quickly identify their skills on a mobile device in multiple languages, including right-to-left languages like Arabic.

After a successful pilot of the app in five European cities in 2019, SkillLab won a Google AI Impact Challenge grant which led to its first round of funding from Rubio Impact Ventures in 2020.

2018 - 2020
ROLE: Design Lead
Strategy, Product design, Research, UX/UI design, Brand design
skilllab.io

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Turning skills into careers

Job seekers use SkillLab’s mobile app to create a “skill profile” that links their past occupations, education, and informal knowledge to a taxonomy of skills. Career counselors use these rich skill profiles to match a job seeker with available jobs and training opportunities that align with their talents and career goals.

The challenge I faced designing the first version of the app was creating a skill classification interface that felt frictionless, yet still supported the AI reward function built by SkillLab’s data science team. Ideally we wanted a job seeker to classify at least 100 skills in one sitting without generating numerous false positives and false negatives. To maintain that level of engagement the SkillLab app has to be easy and rewarding to use.

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Testing with job seekers

I explored multiple interface options for building out the skill profile. The team started with a Material Design framework so we could target Android users and make quick changes to the UI as we moved to an MVP release.

The SkillLab team conducted numerous rounds of usability testing in Amsterdam, Helsinki, Bristol, and Thessaloniki to validate that the app worked across a range of languages. We learned from watching people create their skill profile and struggle with onboarding challenges and language translation bugs that we needed to make improvements. Over time we reduced the complexity of the skill profile and did a better job of explaining how to get started with the app.

Once we completed our initial pilot in 2019, Ragnar Martens and visual designer Norma Salinas evolved my MVP designs into a 1.0 release.

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Designing the skill assessment

Job seekers build their skill profile by classifying their skills based on a Likert scale ranging from “I never used this skill” to “I always used this skill.” Getting an accurate understanding of a job seeker’s life experience is critical to making SkillLab successful so classifying skills with the app must be fast, easy to understand, and engaging.

We tested many UI options for classifying skills on a one-to-five scale including radio buttons, a slider, and a slider plus a bar chart. We also tested a binary approach with yes/no buttons and swiping left/right, but that hurt the AI reward function. In the end the “slider plus a bar chart” approach offered the best tradeoff between speed and accuracy. We eventually removed the slider and let people simply tap the bar chart which made skill classification faster without affecting data quality.

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The SkillLab brand

SkillLab’s leadership team asked me to design a new wordmark to solidify the brand before they approached investors for the company’s first round of funding. The team wanted a new wordmark that felt accessible, supportive, and empowering without being patronizing.

The SkillLab team identified “wayfinding” as their primary brand metaphor based on the tagline: “Career pathways to employment.” During my design research, I discovered examples of early 20th century European street signs that served as an inspiration for the wordmark’s look-and-feel.

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Designing tools for career counsellors

SkillLab’s administration portal is used by career counselors to evaluate a job seeker’s experiences and skills. The portal presents a standardized CV showing the job seeker’s skill profile along with a list of occupations that match their career goals. The job seeker’s CV and Occupation Match report are printable so career counselors can avoid looking at a screen during face-to-face interviews.

SkillLab’s portal also offers a robust set of filtering options so counselors can explore occupation matches by specific skill sets and see at a glance if a job seeker is a good match for a specific occupation.

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