Army recruitments centres, generals, the contractor Capita, and even people at No.10 wanted Army recruitment improved online. Role Finder, as it’s known, was seen as key.


As Lead UX my remit was to improve conversion to contact. Stats and feedback from recruitment centres suggested the current role finder was high-barrior, low payoff.


My focus was breaking down usability barriers, for the lower tech literacy users, and simplifying by focusing on sorting by applicants interests in a fun, visual way.

Research findings

My research into the existing experience found a number of interesting things. Firstly, the Role Finder product was the 3rd most visited page of the Army website but had low retention and a high bounce rate. Through interviews, I found that visitors often lacked confidence in their abilities and background. The existing product put a heavy emphasis on prying into candidate’s background – before letting them get excited about skills they might learn in the army.


19, Part-time Fitness Instructor with a keen interest in medicine.

Main device(s)

Google Nexus 4

My free time

“Keeping fit outdoors.”

I would consider The Reserves if…

“I could still get the qualifications I want.”

When I first thought about joining The Army

“My uncle was in The Army so it was always in the back of my mind, and I know they give you training.”

Needs of Role Finder

“I think I know the kind of thing I want to do but that’s as far as I’ve got. Would I have to start medical training straight away or could I join first and keep that as an option for the future?”

Example persona

Throughout the process, I based all user-centred considerations on interviews and findings from careers centres, such as a lower self-confidence and the need for certain key bits of information, such as potential progression and qualifications. I was able to build out personas to keep everyone aligned.

Reframing around skills and interests

The product became more about what a user aspired to do than what they had done previously. This proved popular in guerrilla testing. From the first workshops with stakeholders, I started to paper prototype. I would put these on devices, either photographing or uploading to Dropbox, and then put them in front of people.

Further down the line, I encouraged the visual team to always view mobile screen on-device. It sounds obvious but this simple rule quickly informed discussions on scale, readability, discoverability and flexible navigation.

Principles behind the design

The aim here was to break down psychological barriers that were presented to existing applicants. These include a large number of options up-front, i.e. agony of choice, and cognitive load from the bloated text.

With this new direction, we make role finder simpler to use and more focused on the applicant’s aspirations. For example, we know from feedback that when an applicant clicked a role type, they were met with a requirement for qualifications first, before any “cool stuff”. In this way, the old Role Finder put off low-confidence applicants before it gave them a chance to fall in love with a role.

In putting interests at the core of Role Finder we refocus the product on what an applicant would like to spend their lives doing. These filters existed in the previous product but were buried. We have taken them, slimmed them down for easy scanning (“I like flying or being in an aircraft” becomes “Flying”) and centred the whole experience around them, taking the most valuable 20% of the product and given it 80% prominence.