I am Irvin Lim.

I make pretty and functional things on the web.

CS3216 Week 4 - Application Critique

The following are the top 3 most important points I have learnt from the presentation of FastJobs by Group 10.

1. Tapping on an existing user base really pays.

FastJobs is a mobile app on both iOS and Android that aims to provide clean and comprehensive listings of part-time, contract and full-time jobs, and is targeted to the Singaporean market. Being developed locally by SPH, it traditionally puts up job listings through print, such as through local newspapers. Hence, it has a large existing pool of users who are already familiar and trust SPH to be able to get its job listings out to people, and that job seekers can also trust SPH that there are enough job listings to choose from. Comparing this to the other apps covered in yesterday’s Application Seminar, which are usually startups that begin with zero users, this app is different in that it already has a guaranteed source of data and users to allow the app to gain traction quickly, by simply shifting listings and job seekers to the app instead.

I feel that this is a double-edged sword, in that although it guarantees that you can see results immediately, and if the app succeeds in serving its purpose, then the cash would immediately start rolling in. However, should the app turn out not popular amongst its users, some users might wish to continue using the traditional print platform to post job listings, and others might even switch to an alternative job listing website (such as Gumtree), declining the customer base of SPH.

2. Unintuitive UI, Multiple Bugs

One of the more jarring points about Fastjobs would be that a button labelled “Send Message” or “Call Employer” within any job listing would cause the user to automatically “apply” for the job, which may cause undue distress or unintended phone calls, just because of misleadingly labelled buttons. This sort of mistake made by Fastjobs, in my opinion, is a big no-no, and would usually throw off users in fear of accidentally tapping the wrong things again. Furthermore, the overall UI may not be well-thought through, and the group mentioned that there were redundant tabs (two tabs labeled “Latest Jobs” and “Part-Time Jobs” which returned exactly the same content in the same ordering).

To build upon point 1, considering that the app on the Google Play Store has 100-500k users, which would be quite a substantial amount considering the entirety of its target audience is in Singapore, I feel that Fastjobs is quite lucky in the sense that they can get away with poor UI/UX decisions and still be able to retain its users, just simply because they are one of the largest and there are no better alternatives that are popular in the Singapore market yet.

3. Uber for Jobs

The group also suggested having an add-on service provided by Fastjobs, to allow employers to seek and confirm part-time employees on an ad-hoc basis, which was inspired by Uber. Furthermore, they suggest to include the surge pricing mechanism to simulate some sort of free market economy for these kind of jobs, as well as a real-time tracking component to view how many potential employees are in close proximity.

Though it sounds like a good idea since it’s riding upon a proven business model, I feel that there may not be many jobs that would fit such criteria such that employers can get employees to report to work within minutes, and that there would also be sufficient employees looking for jobs that are walking around. Furthermore, these sort of jobs typically cannot last for more than a few hours, and cannot require employees to undergo any sort of extensive training, so it would typically only be applicable for jobs such as flyer givers and logistic packers. It might be a novel idea, but unless SPH can identify the niche and build an app to really tackle the needs of the users within that niche, then would it be successful.  

Original Thoughts

I feel that Fastjobs is indeed particularly lucky because it is published by SPH, and having a large user base to begin with is half the battle won. However, they really should polish their app soon, before other Singaporean or even international startups get a foothold of this market, and SPH could potentially stand to lose its long-standing pool of customers.

The lesson in this would be similar to that of Kodak and Fujifilm, where Fujifilm saw the growing trend of digital photography and decided to diversify towards it, while Kodak decided against it, believing fully in its brand name. SPH could stand to learn from this, and although they are taking steps towards digital job listings by investing in app development, in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, they may stand to lose out unless they begin to make huge improvements to their app to retain its user base.