Part 1: What “Lean UX” looks like - a story of product development

Posted by Michelle Zassenhaus

May 1, 2013

The first part in a multi-part series about the "Lean UX" approach to product development at TheLadders.

There are lots of buzz words flying around in product development these days, but what they are and how they are applied can be hard to grasp. I'd like to pull the curtain back and share how we've been applying “Lean UX” in product development at TheLadders.

My team has been working on an iPhone application for our job seekers, which is due to launch in the coming months. As Lead User Experience Designer on the project, I have collaborated closely with my team, applying a "Lean UX" approach - which TheLadders is known for, thanks to the great work of Jeff Gothelf and Will Evans, my predecessors here. In this multi-part series, I'll share with you how we got through the early, foggy stages of product definition quickly; how we built out the guts of our app while constantly testing with users; and a cutting-edge long-term study we're running with real users for the last two months of development, while we refine the last set of features.

Topics: #TheLaddersLife, TheLadders Dev

Drawing inspiration from unlikely places

Posted by Benjamin Grohé

April 11, 2013

TheLadders mobile app team gets inspired from an unlikely source -- Ben Grohe explains.

In my last post, I wrote about why it’s important to challenge your existing assumptions when you build products for mobile devices. As I explained in that article, it is not enough to merely copy (web) functionality and make it look nice on a smaller screen; you have to first re-think what functionality is necessary for a mobile platform. Today, I want to talk about finding inspiration in new places.

When we started our competitive research early in 2013, we investigated every major job-search app within Apple’s app store. We wanted to see how they dealt with the unique challenges of mobile devices and, more importantly, solved the problems of their mobile customers. To be frank, we were disappointed. Most apps just replicated their trusted web experience: login, search for jobs, save or email jobs, and sometimes (if you already had a resume on file), you were allowed to apply using your phone.

Not only do these well-known job-search processes require significant time, they are tasks better managed on a desktop or laptop where you have lots of screen space –which is something you don’t have on your phone.

Topics: TheLadders Dev

Tech Talk: How to scale your database in the cloud

Posted by TheLadders Contributor

April 4, 2013

Last Thursday, I presented at the Clustrix NYC roadshow. Technical executives and leaders from two of the world’s largest database groups on Meetup, New York City’s MySQL and NewSQL groups, were treated to an in-depth presentation about our direct experience with Clustrix, a leading scale-out database. The event, hosted at our SoHo office, drew attendees from companies like SMBC Capital Markets, Getty Images, Pythian, Pixable, M-Square, and ACES.

Historically, databases were the bottleneck in any system, and in the web world, often the primary cause of website downtime and bad user experience. We wanted to keep the downtime as low as possible, so we looked for different ways to scale our database. We also wanted our developers to focus on adding value to our product, rather than spending time working on a database layer. The goal was to scale the system smoothly and economically as requirements increased. A new database system would be able to handle large numbers of concurrent users, provide continuous availability, and process extremely large data sets.

We had several options to scale our database: break it to smaller databases called shards, migrate to a simple key-value or a document store, buy a big iron database, or adopt a modern internet-scale database solution called NewSQL.

Topics: #TheLaddersLife, TheLadders Dev

Breaking down the Startup Un-Convention

Posted by Kyri Sarantakos

March 11, 2013

Kyri heads to Philadelphia to share his thoughts on "How to Write the Perfect Product Spec" with Wharton Business School's Startup Un-Convention attendees.

Topics: TheLadders Dev

The mobile job search has no winner...yet

Posted by Benjamin Grohé

February 28, 2013

The era of the PC is over. Apple has been saying this for a while and they are right. Sales of tablet computers and smartphones combined have overtaken PC sales. The once #1 PC manufacturer in the country, Dell, just announced that they are going private in order to take radical measures necessary to survive the post-PC era without the harsh glare of shareholders. Even Intel has started killing off its own PC business.

Of course, the change in devices owned and used by consumers has a profound impact on millions of other businesses. Big news outlets report that traffic from mobile devices now reaches and exceeds 50% of their overall traffic at certain hours of the day. Facebook is now a mobile company. Latest reports show that 25% of Americans now use their smartphone, not computers, for the majority of their web surfing.

Topics: TheLadders Dev

Vinyl Quality on TheLadders

Posted by Patty Youngclaus

February 22, 2013

Being a huge fan of the rock band Foo Fighters, I recently purchased their entire discography on vinyl. Vinyl? Why vinyl? I know, I know, why vinyl?! You see, I am passionate about quality, and I am one of those folks that believe true quality music is heard best off a vinyl record. For me, quality is above all else.

That’s why I am really excited about what I’m doing here at TheLadders. I work with our Job Analysts to continue to post only quality jobs on our site. We go over thousands of jobs daily to make sure they meet our professional standards, are aesthetically pleasing, are shown to the right audience, and are categorized correctly. I have even worked with our Employer Relations team, who is responsible for vetting all employers that join TheLadders, ensuring that only legitimate sources are able to post positions and search for candidates. We pride ourselves in finding the right person for the right job, which is why we maintain high quality assurance of all job listings on our site.

Topics: #TheLaddersLife, TheLadders Dev

Projecting the Spotlight

Posted by Patty Youngclaus

February 7, 2013

Providing the means for a thorough understanding of TheLadders for employers has always been the main focus for Enterprise Account Management at TheLadders. We believe that proper education for our employer population will not only increase overall client engagement, but will contribute to maximizing proper and effective site-use as well.

More than a year ago, we started conducting “Spotlight Demos” on TheLadders in real time. In these sessions, rather than reviewing the entire site at once, we chose to pinpoint certain features for each month’s focus. This provided an opportunity to re-review permanent site functions and to introduce new features as they were added to the site. Choosing to do this on a more singular level has resulted in increased overall site use.

Topics: TheLadders Dev

New Beginnings

Posted by Patty Youngclaus

January 31, 2013

“You must be the change you wish to see....” -Gandhi

Eight years ago today, I joined TheLadders.

Back in January 2005, we were a small startup with only 25 employees. My first job was working on building a new version of At the time, there were only a few hundred lines of code and we spent the next few months working around the clock to deliver a new and improved website. When we were done and the site was launched, I remember my father asking me, “Now what? The site’s done; do you still have work to do?”

Topics: TheLadders Dev

"Scouting" the competition

Posted by TheLadders

January 30, 2013

As director of consumer marketing at TheLadders, I receive daily exposure to the world of job seekers. Industry data suggests that, while not everyone is actively looking for jobs, the majority of us would be open to new and interesting opportunities. Basically, between wintry economic times and passive job seekers, it has never been harder to conduct a competent job search.

A typical job seeker may wonder, “Who is my competition, and how do I stack up against them?” or simply, “Should I even bother applying for this job?” While that decision is ultimately up to the job seeker, it is fundamental enough to our customers’ satisfaction that we attempt to help them do so. In a post-web 2.0 world, it is not enough to provide the ability to apply to great jobs; a superior experience will bring its community together (with all the data it creates) to add value for everyone.

This is why we’re kicking off 2013 with our newest product, “Scout.” For the first time, we are giving job seekers a behind-the-scenes look at the other candidates who have applied for the same position. Based on your profile, you can see how you compare to other applicants in five categories: years of experience, education level, areas of expertise, current title, and current salary. All this information is anonymously aggregated and displayed in Scout, providing instant insight into the competition.

Topics: TheLadders Dev

New Product for the New Year

Posted by Patty Youngclaus

January 14, 2013

What a way to kick off 2013: launching a new product, demoing it to thousands of NYC job seekers at Job Central, and receiving invaluable on-the-spot feedback!

Last year, as the online world started to rapidly shift away from PCs and desktops and towards the mobile world of smartphones and tablets, our product and tech teams sat down to examine how well we were serving job seekers in this new era. The answer? Not very well. So, we rolled up our sleeves and revamped the product from the ground up, focusing on three goals:

1. TheLadders should be accessible and usable anytime, anywhere.

2. The platform needs to be efficient and save job seekers’ valuable time.

3. Leveraging the knowledge and data we have about the job search, the product needs to shed light on what happens with job applications. It must reduce the “black hole,” what we’ve come to call the recruiter and company unresponsiveness many job seekers have encountered.

Topics: TheLadders Dev