Designing top ranking pages for top talent on the Student Quarters website
UX & UI Designer
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Student Quarters (SQ) is a leading owner and operator of student housing across the U.S. With a team composed of industry experts in student housing asset management, property operations, acquisitions, finance, and development, SQ delivers enriching experiences and exceptional results.
After a period of rapid growth, SQ wanted to amp up their digital marketing strategy in 2021. While very active on social media, they needed a stronger online presence from their small, dated website.
The new website required a new branded look, tons of new content, and an engaging user experience to attract future SQ hires.
How might we make it easier for job seekers to discover career opportunities on SQ’s website?
Student Quarters was in the middle of rebranding themselves, and as part of this rebrand, wanted to pivot their website from targeting student tenants and student housing investors into targeting talent.
Therefore, we needed to understand the new audience better and craft a journey that would guide SQ job seekers through the website to applying to a job listing.
They were experiencing rapid growth — with a large housing portfolio despite its young age — and the Atlanta Business Chronicle even award SQ with 2021’s title, “Best Place to Work.” However, job seekers might miss out on SQ’s employment opportunities, because SQ’s old website fails to speak to them.
The previous website was small and light-weight. Consisting of only five (5x) short pages, none of its content targeted job seekers. Indeed, while the previous website featured a page addressing investors and another page connecting prospective student tenants with SQ communities, the website lacked content tailored towards talent acquisition.
Additionally, technical issues caused SQ to lose access to their website for a number of years. The website then grew to look dated and inactive. As a result, SQ was unable to add content for talent acquisition. Furthermore, job seekers validating job ads against the dated website might conclude the ads were illegitimate or otherwise unattractive opportunities.
Therefore, it’s important for job seekers to find SQ’s employment opportunities online and begin building those relationships.
Me, UX & UI designer & front-end web developer
Matt Hamilton, Director of Digital Design
Michelle Lee, Multichannel Marketing Specialist
Paige Cardwell, President of CSG Creative, acting as SQ’s account manager
After Effects • Elementor • Figma • Google My Map • HTML, CSS, and PHP • InDesign • Lottie • Miro • WordPress
Hi-fi mock-ups for 9x key pages
Responsive desktop and mobile web design
Animated motion graphics
Front-end web development for 89x web pages
Understanding the New Audience
To help everyone understand how job seekers apply for jobs at SQ and what kinds of content they would find helpful.
Because this was a new audience for SQ’s website, I started with a persona. The persona provided a relatable example of goals, needs, and behaviors typical of SQ’s job seeking user segment.
Then, I created a journey map to understand how and why a job seeker might move through the application process. The map also identified gaps and opportunities both on and off the website for a better end-to-end experience for job seekers.
First drafts of the first three pages
My supervisors jumped right into the website design process with high-fidelity mock-ups to help SQ clearly picture options for creative development.
My supervisor and I each designed:
- a homepage,
- a Leadership page, and
- the first of three careers pages (SQuad Perks).
My designs won out — the client loved the UX copywriting I applied to their headlines and the call-outs I added! — and I led the SQuad Perks page as well. Leadership combined both our concepts.
Homepage builds credibility with investors
The client requested the homepage focus on another audience, student housing property investors, the headlines, statistics, portfolio, and CTAs speak to that audience.
Leadership builds credibility with investors & job seekers
The Leadership page spotlights staff and acts as a landing page to read staff bios. This page helps investors evaluate the expertise of SQ partners. This page also helps job seekers learn about the qualifications and personalities of current employees to gauge personal fit. I also add a bright, careers-focused call-out and CTA to point job seekers towards the next step in their journey: view open positions.
SQuad Perks shows transparency to job seekers
Finally, SQuad Perks was one of three main careers pages focused on talent acquisition; these pages must improve the job seeker journey. On this page, I:
- spotlighted an SQ culture video,
- listed employee benefits,
- displayed a photo previewing what a new hire’s desk and office might look like,
- showed a recent company award, and
- shared employee testimonials.
These provide transparency into SQ’s work culture that a job ad might not capture. Furthermore, the various content formats — video, text, photos — engage a variety of job seeker learning styles. convey transparency about the SQ brand to build trust.
Finalizing all nine (9x) landing pages
The first three pages are finalized, then the remaining six landing pages are iterated through completion as well. They are:
- Leadership > Staff Bio
- Careers > SQ Perks
- Careers > Culture
- Careers > Open Positions
- Contact Us
*Italics indicate landing pages for talent acquisition.
Seven months after the website launch, all three talent acquisition pages gained among the Top 10 highest page views: Open Positions (4th), Culture (5th), and SQuad Perks (7th). Open Positions and its related pages achieved nearly all of the longest average times on page.
Overall, the whole SQ website increased site visits by 33% and users by 44% (most of whom are first-time visitors and overall more engaged); and achieved a 65% longer site stay.
Job seekers are successfully discovering the content tailored for them and are staying longer on the website consuming it.
As of one year post-launch, SQ has increased its number of employees by 40%, with over 125 employees across the U.S.
I created a job seeker persona and a journey map to provide insight into a new audience for the SQ website.
Then, I created web page mock-ups of five (5x) key pages, designing new pages and increasing detail as we iterated through the final 89-page website.
Once I received internal sign-off from the agency team, I developed my web designs as well and shared the staging site with the client, SQ.
My supervisor, Matt, Director of Digital Design, pushed the stating site live in early September 2021.