At the end of June The Ladders released their new iPhone application. Benjamin Grohé, product manager, did a great job blogging about the development process of The Ladders app. I very much like The Ladders objective to transform into a "mobile first" company. I am not sure what that means to The Ladders, but to me "mobile first" means:
- Design a mobile product offering first that delivers value.
- Develop a business model that works on mobile first.
- Scale up to desktop using the learnings from mobile.
My communications with The Ladders suggests they really do mean to achieve this goal. Their investment and efforts delivering a new mobile application are commendable. The app is very well designed, they have looked at the competition and outside the industry specifically at the world of dating to inspire their innovation. The UI is good and it provides a great benchmark for other job boards regards usability.
While this latest development is great progress for The Ladders my opinion is they still have a long way to go before becoming "mobile first".
One sticking point is mobile apply. The "pr" suggests their research told them candidates don't want to apply via mobile. I have read a lot of research by many company on this topic and find The Ladders outcome to quite be contradicting, which might be unique to their demographic bias. I would guess the truth is closer to "recruiters have to have a resume, strategically we don't want to be bound to LinkedIn, we can't solve the logistics of mApply - so lets not bother".
The Ladders app has launched a basic apply feature, but they have been careful not to call it apply. The candidate can 'like' a job and the recruiter can 'like' a candidate. The like system provides an introduction allowing a recruiter driven discussion to start. I really like this approach, I have seen similar before. Avoiding the word apply is key, it removes any expectation from the candidate that they will be contacted by the recruiter, in addition the "likes" can be used to improve automatic job matching.
As well as mobile apply, before the ladders can celebrate they have arrived at mobile first their mobile web efforts need more attention. Their business model is driven by registered users (with payment options) and paid job advertising. When I go to sign up on an iPhone using Safari there is no mobile optimisation - this means The Ladders is turning away money and new registered users.
Being behind on their mSite conversion funnel is one aspect that prevents me calling The Ladders a "Mobile First" company. They are likely loosing out on at least a third of their potential market.
A "mobile first" company would redefine the registration / conversion process to be feasible and successful on mobile. The likelihood, based on experience, is the learnings would be transferable to the desktop process and deliver increased conversion for users regardless of device.
To finnish up, I am impressed with The Ladders efforts and I really look forwards to what else they release on their journey to becoming mobile first