One of the delights of the otherwise soul-destroying Jobcentre Twitter Pilot work is the observation of a grass-roots movement of ‘official’ Tweeting Jobcentres. I keep an avunclular eye on them. There have been a few announcements made lately on these things of a Mobile version of the Jobseekers Direct web-site and I thought I’d investigate.It starts with an invitation to send a text ‘Jobs’ to 83377. When one does this an automated reply is sent back, with a link, asking you to type http://m.direct.gov.uk/jobs into your ‘phones browser. The reason for this circuitous route is unclear, but it may be a data-acquisition effort, for now they’ve your mobile phone number.
The above link will not work in a standard browser, for user-agent strings are examined and the URL is re-written to use the start page of the main Direct.gov.uk web site. The site, can however be viewed in a ‘normal’ browser by visiting the slightly more obscure URL: http://m.direct.gov.uk/jobController?action=job.
As you can already sense, this is a site that’s trying too hard to be clever. So, once at this home page, one can start to explore. A normal browser may be used for this, not just a mobile one, the re-write strangeness only extends to the initial pages.
There are two search boxes on the first page. The top one is for the Jobseekers part of the site, and the second part is for the rest of the mobile site, presumably. You are curiously invited to restrict your search to an individual street, with the proviso that it may not work in Scotland. Consider the usefulness of this moot.
Persevering, entering a town name gets you a sizeable list of possible matches, they include local employers and landmarks. Only one may be selected and under the covers this selection seems to be converted internally in to a full postcode, but you then get a page of job classifications. Picking one, gets you a further set of job classifications which further tightens the search and leads to a yet another form. This asks you to characterise you job in terms of distance, job type (permanent or temporary) and how far back in time you want to search. Negotiation of all these drop downs eventually will get you a list of job titles. As with the ‘classic’ site, the search results can be a little odd in terms of geography.
The links displayed are vacancy titles that can be clicked upon, and this brings up further details of the vacancy, but not all of it. A further ‘details’ link needs to be accessed to get it all. The user has to thus negotiate six screens on a mobile phone before getting the reward of details of a vacancy they may be interested in. In a brief exploration of some such details it was noted that the embedded URLs, such as they may be, are not clickable nor are any attempt made on click-to-call with telephone numbers. The links themselves, though, do not expire, unlike those found on the ‘classic’ site. Which is something, I’d guess.
In matters of taste and what constitutes good web design, one needs to remember to be circumspect if not effusive, least your humble efforts be held up to critical and uncharitable scorn too. But this site is truly a barely-usable gargoyle.
Should mobile browsing be desired, therefore, I would suggest that the classic site be viewed in a relatively recent and capable web-browser. Some, such as Opera make a decent fist of displaying a wide, gaudy web-site on a small format. The recent Jobseekers Direct web-site seems to display with some degree of usability on most smart-phone browsers that I’ve seen, though. And at the risk of bragging, you could do worse than use the
ZOIS web-site (http://zois.com) which has been designed to be use on narrow bandwith-challenged devices from inception.