Dice.com Latest Upgrade Broke The Site

At least as of 6AM to 9AM, the job search website for tech, www.dice.com is not useable in my experience.

They went ahead and rolled out a major revision of their website today.  There actually were a few things in it that were kind of slick.

When you go in to do a search for a position, and it makes sense to do so, you have a slider for a criterion.

For example, when you are requesting a page for a search, you can tailor the number of results you want back by using a slider to change the number from 10 to 100 in increments.   The 100 is a big help.

Distance works the same way.

There are a few others, but the problem is that there should be a little box at the end for you to enter in a specific number.

Why? 

Simple – I live in Wilton Manors, Florida.  I used to have a search that would look for a 27 mile radius.  That would include West Palm Beach but specifically exclude downtown Miami.  I don’t want that commute, nor would I want that for anyone else. 

If there is a slider, you need to be able to enter in a specific number.

They also deleted the ability to search for an Area Code or a group of Area Codes.  Broward County is 954 and 754.  Palm Beach County is 561.  Having the ability in a large urbanized area like this to simply search for something within a county is very helpful.  Otherwise, the distance must be used, and will slow one down with extra searches.

They deleted the ability to exclude recruiters.  Recruiters in my experience are unreliable.  I tend to look for direct hire only.

They clearly did not test their site when they went “Live” today – by the time I got to it.  It may be fixed later, even later today.  Much of this could simply be because they are rolling out changes at this moment.

When I get the results of a search, they come back with either “Relevant” or “Date” available, but the default is usually Relevant unless you caught the tick box and set it.  But the link is dead to change it back – normally, but not always.  This sort of inconsistency is very common within the site.

That’s the problem.  Things work sometimes but not always.

So basically their site is not useable as of this writing, 9:15 AM EST, 12/15/2014.

As for the way it looks? 

I personally am not a fan of the Web 2.0 Look And Feel for things where there are a lot of items to search. 

Dice.com is one of those sites.  They are presenting a database of links and a tight list format is the most useable. 

I understand that they want to look different than the other two big sites, www.Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com however, their search results in LARGE FONTS and lots of Whitespace means that you’re constantly paging when you do get the 100 results per page, if you can actually get things to work.

Thank you again for the 100, it helps.

But when you page through the site on a large monitor (1920×1080) getting only seven results per view until you page down is limiting.  Put as much on a line as possible.  I guess that means it’s first page with 4 links, then 13 pages of 7 links (or so) plus the remaining 5 links (or so) – that’s how the math works out.

Your User Interface guy must have missed that particular meeting.  The Testing folk are confused too – I got a page coming up using the old interface and immediately thought “THANK YOU!”. 

Then I refreshed the page and it was back to the new design.  There were no links though, kind of a surprise since I saw links on the Old Format Page.

I’ll be waiting.  The new design needs A LOT OF WORK.  The site has so many bugs in it that I simply closed every window that I had.   All my old links are no longer functional.  If I try to recreate them, the site is so buggy that I can not get anything even remotely like the results I expect.  I can’t page to the second 100 results.  Not even the old text search works properly.  If you want to search for Business Analyst, and put them in quotes, the new software thinks you are looking for “Business OR Analyst”.  It’s not the same thing.

For example, if I search for anything within 20 miles of zip code 33301 I am showing results in California.  California is a great place but a bit more than 20 miles away from South Florida.

Oh and one missing thing that is extremely important.  Dice removed the number of hits that a particular resume has.  It’s a metric that needs to return.  How else would you know if your resume is effective unless you know now many people look at it in a given month?

At this point, there’s nothing else that I could suggest other than telling someone who wants to use a job search engine to wait this one out and hit the other sites.  Dice.com is unusable due to UI, UX, and QA issues today.  

They tried, but … well, maybe tomorrow.  They went with a Big Bang Release and broke what they had before.  Would be best to roll it all back and try an Agile Project Management approach of gradual improvements instead of what they got here.

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Monster.com, Are You Kidding? Fancybox? Really?

In business, there is a phrase.

“Eat Your Own Dog Food.”

Monster.com doesn’t seem to realize this in their roll out of new “features”.

You see, Eat Your Own Dog Food really means that you’re going to use your own product to make sure that it suits what you intend it to do, and that you aren’t giving the competitors an unfair advantage.

In web development and Project Management, this means finding someone who becomes the “Subject Matter Expert” and “Product Owner” and takes on a very special role.   When I worked at the university, and in every position I have held back into the beginning days of my career, I’ve assumed this role.  It means that you are going to step back, listen to what the “Main User” of the system says about it, and champion that role within “Development” so that the Main User’s need are best served.

It means that you have to anticipate how any person will use the system and make sure that problems do not occur, and that when they do, problems are dealt with gently and “Gracefully”.

It also means that unintended consequences sometimes occur like in this picture above.

It is one of my least favorite features, the “Fancybox” or the “Lightbox”.

It is also very very rarely used correctly.

This is an example of how badly monster.com used the fancybox.

I did this under “my signon” and on another browser with no signon and it repeats itself.

Simply put, go onto Monster.com and do a search for any position you like in what ever zipcode you prefer.  Monster will return a list of positions.  It may even give you more than one page.  When you go from page 1 to page 2, it will put a “fancybox” up on your browser asking you “Let These Jobs Come To You”.

No, you blistering idiot, that is not what I wanted.

You see it will do that for this page, and any future page I want to look at. 

Every Blistering Page.

Ok, so I’m quoting the TV Sliders and Dr. Arturo with his wonderful rants and insults, but the point is still valid – Fancyboxes rarely serve a useful purpose For The User.

I went in immediately to my browser, clicked “Adblock Plus” and found a script.  I blocked it, and refreshed the page, and now I’m back to the old Fancybox Free behavior.

If I wanted an RSS Feed of the search parameters, it would not work because since I live in a major metropolitan area, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, there are thousands of jobs.  I have given up on RSS Feeds for this because they “max out” at 50.  I typically would need around 500 to be able to see the last two days worth of positions on this given search.

I have many searches, and have saved each individual page to save me a LOT of time that would be otherwise wasted clicking on “Next Page” buttons.   If I were not able to do the search the way I do, then I probably would have stopped using Monster.com a long time ago.

So all you need to do is go into your adblock plus and block the script called:

http://media.newjobs.com/nmy/usen/iperceptions506.js

It is badly written code, your QA, Development Department, and Project Managers have made a mistake.

It simply does not belong in a professional product like we have come to expect in Monster.com.  It only can have come from someone who has sat in too many Marketing Meetings and thought they could get more “buy-in” from their users.

Web Annoyances – Websites Where Keyboards Don’t Work

This one gets me a lot.  
It’s so basic that I have to wonder who on earth is making these web pages? 
Worse, who on earth is approving and testing them?

Oh, that’s right, you can’t do Proper QA any more since everything is written overseas on the cheap.

You get what you pay for.

Rant aside…

For the most part, even now, the place most people are doing their “heavy duty” web surfing is on a browser.  I’m basing that on this blog’s statistics, and I feel confident that that feeling is backed up by most web services.

The proportion is roughly evenly split between Internet Explorer, Firefox (and its variants), and Chrome.

I personally have noticed this on Firefox and on Internet Explorer, on Windows, Linux, and on Mac OSX.

It just doesn’t happen on a tablet or a phone since the way you use a webpage is different there.  You only have a mouse (touchscreen), you rarely have a keyboard.

I notice this on a daily basis on Monster.com, but it also shows up with many other oddball sites.

Here’s how to find the problem on Monster:

  • Surf Monster and do a search.  Doesn’t really matter what kind of job you search for, your own zip code will be fine.
  • You will be presented with a list.  Pick one from the list.   It doesn’t really matter which.
  • Now that you are looking at a page, a job really, use your Page Up or Page Down keys.

They don’t work.

You actually have to click inside the body of the page to get the page to move.   You can tab around, cursor around, whatever you choose, but it just doesn’t work until you click inside the page.

If you are a web developer and call this done, you are bad and you should feel bad.

Zoidberg doesn’t like you and neither do I.

This also works with the Windows or Linux alternate page down, the space bar.  

Navigation is simply locked down until you click inside the page.

My best guess is that it’s a function of working with the software behind the scenes (Ajax) and having reworked your browser so that all the keys are forced to do a certain special task.  Don’t know but it’s still wrong.

Now go back and fix your web page.  That’s a rookie mistake.  If you’re good, Robot Santa may leave you a gift.

SimplyHired.com and User Experience

Wait, this isn’t going to be as technical as it sounds, trust me! 

Oh well, now that I have scared most folks off…

I’ve mentioned before that I am looking for a Permanent Position in Project Management in South Florida.  I also have mentioned how I go through 170 web pages a day in order to apply to likely positions.  Mostly I do that through www.dice.com, www.monster.com, and www.careerbuilder.com, but there are others.

I also have a weekly sweep of specific cities, counties, and companies that I do on the weekend that is another 170 pages.

Roughly.

Anything that slows down the way I use the browser effects how efficiently I can do this.

I’ve noticed a nasty habit creeping in the way many web pages are doing things. 

First some really basic instruction on what happens when you click on a link – VERY basic.

See a link.  Click on a link.  The link will take you to the next web page.

Simple, right?  That is how it is supposed to work.  If it happens that way, success.  Happy user and the “User Experience” is enhanced so that you are more likely to come back.  That “User Experience” is a very important field, many people are working on that sort of thing so that you really do come back.  After all they have ads and that is how you pay the web page – by your clicks.

Next Helpful Hint.  Control Click.  Also known as “Ctrl Click”. 

See a link.  Hold Ctrl and Click on that link.  The link will open in a new tab on modern browsers.  The old page stays there so you can refer to it.

Shift and Click work the same way except that it opens that page in a new browser window.

Go ahead and try either, I should still be here waiting for you.

See?  Wasn’t that helpful? 

I think so because that is the basis for my opening 170 web pages in 6 browser windows.   My little Core 2 Duo 12 inch convertible tablet is not going to open them all at once.   Too much for Firefox to do, so I broke it all up into roughly 30 tabs per browser window.

For example, I have a set of tabs that open up automatically.  That set goes to Dice.com and says “give me the first 10 pages that show any ‘project manager’ position within 25 miles of my current zip, and exclude the following companies”.  It will happily do that and more. 

The result is one browser window with those 10 dice searches, one page after another, loading in background for me.   Next I can go through those tabs, one at a time and look at the links. 

Remember that “ctrl-click”?

The next step is Ctrl-Clicking the links so they all happily open up in the next tabs.  All the other web pages stay there, it just creates a new one for the next click.

This works well for any list of links like the ones you find on a search engine like www.google.com or www.bing.com for example.  Find a recipe site with 10 recipes all of which include your favorite food?  Just Ctrl-Click and they will all open in tabs as you click them.  It’s really handy and it’s built in to the browsers.

Ok, so now you say what’s the problem?

Simply put, there is a nasty habit many web pages are doing that work fine if all you are doing is one thing at a time.  Who has time for that any more? 

Click on a link on some web sites, and they will put up an overlay on top of your web page that obscures what you had, and presents new information.  This is usually called a Light Box.  Here is why that can be a nasty problem.

www.simplyhired.com does this when you click on a link.  They’re so anxious to get you to log into their site that they put up a light box asking for login information when you click.  Then you have to stop what you were doing and click on the close “X” up at the top right corner of the light box so it will process your link.  Completely in conflict with opening up a bunch of links in tabs and working with these at your own time.

The way around that is to right click on that link and select “Open Link In New Tab”.  Yes, it is another step, and it is usually done after the second or third try.  

www.simplyhired.com is an aggregator of other people’s content.  They try to be a search engine of other job boards and achieve enough success that I have been coming back.  Major annoyance to go through that click-and-shock every time you find a link for this one site that is so different from normal.

A Better Solution is to use www.indeed.com as an aggregator for job postings.  They work “normally” when you click or ctrl-click on them, they don’t get in your way with weird light boxes and unnecessary web clicks.  I have even tricked the website to give me my 50 links in one tab which I do with Dice and Monster.  They’re completely configurable that way if you choose to monkey around with searches.

Another website that is guilty of this nonsense is www.facebook.com in the way they handle pictures.  Their User Interface at this moment is putting up a lightbox that covers up everything you look at with the picture that you were clicking on.  It also puts you back up at the top of the page you were looking at to begin with when you clicked on that picture.   At least links are being opened the correct way – the way you want them. 

Again, this sort of thing seems kind of small and inconsequential but there are many people working on this sort of detail.  When you change the way someone else’s browser works, there has to be a concrete reason for the change and it has to be done so that there is a concrete benefit.

Rarely if ever does that happen.

After clicking on one too many friend’s links in Facebook, and one too many links on Simply Hired, I noticed a review box in lime green with white text.  Lime Green?  White Text?  What were they thinking?   At any rate, I gave them my opinion above, in a condensed format.  I may as well give them feedback.  After all, I told them I would under no circumstances recommend them since there were too many sites that do it right.  I’ll probably keep using the site because I have some searches that once in a blue moon show what I am looking for that are not shown on the big boards, but I really wouldn’t miss them if I could get to the rest.

Dice.com Redesign – User Interface

More of all of this Web User Experience and User Interface “stuff” coming.  On the other hand, it’s a shorter article and there are pictures to illustrate what I’m banging on about.  It’s shorter because they fixed most of what I found wrong with it.

Over the last week, Dice.com decided to do some changes to their site.  The last discussion was on Friday and you can read it here.  There was a redesign to the search that made it less useful.  On the other hand, after taking another look at it, they decided to reverse most if not all of the changes.

It made it better.  Well to be fair, it made it better for me to use, and hopefully for others.   It is now much more useful and much more useable.  What I have now are more on the line of Suggestions than major problems.

Think of it as a “Design Concern” than a “Full Stop”.

Any time you are going to write a web page, or web site you have to make some decisions, whether or not you realize you are going to do so.  You are setting your boundaries.  One major boundary is what size of a page will you be writing for.  There are a lot of people running around with little netbooks.   If they were pink, I would call them “Barbie’s Computer” because they look like a little thing that hasn’t grown up yet.  I am assuming that this is as small of a screen you will write for, because when I write for my own clients, I use that width.

I call this “One K Mode” because it is 1024 pixels wide. In my case, the page I’m looking at has drifted to a wider page because I have a wider monitor, but when I develop I develop for 1024 as my standard width.

I promise I won’t get “too deep” here for my non technical users.  Consider this as a “standard” width.  Anything more gets into numbers that are more like what you see when you are shopping for a TV.  Since most people have a computer to do serious work that are this size or larger, this is your benchmark.

Dice.Com “Detail” search results

Dice has a page with three panes.  A Left Control Panel, the search results in the middle, and the Right Control Panel.

Suggestion one – Merge the Right Control Panel onto the bottom of the Left Control Panel.
Reason – it gives you more room to grow for the search results.
Why should you care?  Because the individual fields displayed are variable in width and you end up with weird truncation if the field has a lot to show.

Suggestion two – For Summary, limit each column in the center pane for the search results to one line.
Reason – It allows the web page to pack more results onto one vertical page.
Why should you care? Because more results on one page increases ease of use for the person looking at the results and makes one more likely to return.

Suggestion three – Consider reducing the white space.
Reason – It allows for more pertinent results and information displayed to the user at one shot.
Why should you care?   More results are easier to manage just like in suggestion two.

Dice.com “Summary” search results

Suggestion four – if you are going to truncate a long description, if you really feel it is necessary in the summary, go ahead and add an ellipsis to the end (the three dots)
Reason – we are used to seeing those three dots in Windows Explorer or Mac OSX Finder.  It is comfortable and useful.
Why Should you care?  It’s really just a nice to have.  I’d lop it off at an arbitrary useful length but definitely not go on to a second line.

The ironic thing is that Monster.com has just done the same thing that Dice.com did back on April Fools Day.  I’m still working my way through recreating my links and my sorts.  The problem is that with Monster.com, I can’t really easily work with their sorts.   Dice.com is head and shoulders above what Monster has done for usability, and in 10 days went from a horrendous mess to something that’s pretty close to where I’d want it to be.

Obviously I am a demanding user.  I’m also stubborn enough to make something work for me by fiddling around with it.   I have to, just like many other folks who are using their services because they are in the job market.  I just am the kind of guy who won’t sit back and complain to myself, I’ll do it here if I find something wrong or if it is right I’ll praise it.

(Pause) It’s a Sales Job (Click)

I talk to a lot of recruiters.  Being a Freelance Project Manager and IT Consultant, I am actively looking for a permanent position.  Nearby.  Within a reasonable driving distance of my home.

There are a lot of “Perfect Positions”.   When I hear the loud shrill ring of my phone sound off, I check to see where that call is coming first.  If it is outside of the Broward County Florida and adjacent areas, it is usually the perfect job that would require selling the house, loading granny on the receiver tray on the back of the jeep and moving out. 

No, I rather like it here.  I have no intentions of moving.  There are some stinkers here, but for the most part I like my neighbors and the city.  You may have gathered that from some other postings.

This week alone, and this is before start of business on Thursday, I have had recruiters call about positions in Jacksonville, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco.   Each position would have been perfect were it here in Fort Lauderdale.  So I smile and think at least I’m shopping the right resume out there and wait for a local offer. 

If you want someone who can telecommute, I’m your man!  Between me and another person who was an amazing person to work with, we built a one of a kind virtual office using open source technologies that was splattered between here and the Northeast on a shoestring.  It was that man that taught me a very important phrase of “Own It”. 

I spoke to a local recruiter yesterday while I was on the way to another interview, and rattled off the Volunteer and Consulting work I have done over the last 2 months and thought “Hey, I should hire Me!”.  There will be an interview out of that one, and it would be The Dream Job.  It’s even here in Broward County!  Just far enough away to justify having a car and listen to my audio books on the way in, just near enough so the commute isn’t boring.

I have got to land that one first though so lets hope.

While that position is completely appropriate for me, there’s the others.  At least twice a week I get some poor confused soul calling me with a sales job.  I’m not a salesman.  If I were, I’d be doing some sort of technical sales position somewhere, I’m sure…  My negotiation skills are more of the “Yes, Director of the Department, you think you need A B and C but what you really have to have immediately is only A so that is what I’ll instruct the programmers to work on first and explain to them that B and C will come next time around” manner of doing business.

Agile Project Management… next step the Joint Application Design Meetings and my hovering over a programmer to get just the right look and feel….

Back to that poor confused Headhunter.   It seems that there are a lot of sales positions lately.   If they are calling me, they must be confused.  I have a long and technically oriented resume.  It is designed for a computer to read it.  I got 25 hits alone yesterday on Careerbuilder on that resume so it is working.  At least it did yesterday.   I have to think someone just went and scanned the resumes for phone numbers and started down the list.

I’m a “W” so I’m sure that was a very tired person in a dank cubicle somewhere.

It is amusing though.  If you have someone who is trying to talk to you to fill their position, there seems to be a rule.  Always hold back the most difficult detail of the position until last.  Sometimes it may be “Chicago”, and others it is that you will be expected to travel 50 to 75 percent of the time. 

Chicago is a great city.  I loved it when I visited.  I will visit again, happily, but when the winds blow off the lake in February I will not be there.   Travel once in a while can be a life enhancing experience but if you’re gone 75% of the time do you ever really live anywhere?

The last one recruiter call I got I knew was going to be one of these positions.  He asked if he could record the call for “Training Purposes” which was a tip off that it was going to be entertaining.  Then he rattled off the location (Telecommuting?  Hmmm interesting… do go on) and that he had read my resume and thought I was just the right person for the job.   Gave a pay grade and a bonus schedule that was appropriate for my varied experience and paused.

By the way, this is a sales position.

By the time he finished the word “Sales” I was already saying “I’m sorry I am not considering changing my career path at this time”.   By the time I got to the word “Changing” he was apologizing. 

Here’s a suggestion.  If you are calling someone who has a position of “Consulting Project Manager” and “IT Manager” as their current and prior positions on the resume, you already know that they won’t be a perfect fit.   State right out that this is a sales position.  Then Breathe.   Most likely you will be hearing “Thanks but no thanks” and the call will end.

It will get you onto someone who may indeed be a salesman.

Color me Amused.  Sometimes the most entertaining thing you will do in a day is talk to a recruiter.

Job scams aplenty

One of the first things I do when I get back from walking the dog after having breakfast is to settle into a two and a half hour average job search on the internet. 

I make up whatever coffee I need for the task, settle into my Poang chair, and bounce away while looking at web pages.  I have automated the task as much as possible, and I usually look at an average of 200 pages a day in that time. 

Granted it is not all job pages, I’m focused but not a robot.  After all, job search pages can be dry to put it mildly.

One of the things that the job boards all say is to not give away personal information when you post.  Or rather, Too Much Personal Information.  Bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers and the like are just too precious to post.  I had to make a determined decision on what to list.   I have a resume on three major job boards, Dice, Monster, and Careerbuilder, and they all have personal information.  I decided that if I were to find a job, I’d have to post what was publicly available.  The problem is that it means that I end up getting spammed daily.

Most of them are patently obvious that they are scams.   Job offers do not come from Hotmail.Com accounts.  Job offers certainly don’t come from Hotmail.com accounts with a mismatched sender name.

Another problem is that jobs that sound like they may be interesting are either money laundering scams, or just “phishing” scams to get your personal information.  I get on the order of five jobs a day from scammers who want to get my information because they think that I would be a candidate for a “Payment Transfer Manager”.  Yes, I also speak Nigerian tribal languages too.  Oh please let me give you my information so the little money I have saved up will feed your Yoruba village.

Not.

There are a lot of people in Job Recruiting who have some positions that are a great fit, but are trying a bit too hard to fill the position.   I’ve got a resume that says “Permanently Located in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida”.  That means that I won’t relocate.  Telecommuting would be a wonderful choice, and there are technologies that I am a Subject Matter Expert in that would lend themselves to sitting here and working at a company in Minneapolis or Bentonville Arkansas.  COBOL Programming is one of them.  Certain Mainframe Technologies like EZTrieve and JCL are two others.  I had gotten so many contacts from Walmart asking me if I wanted to relocate to Bentonville Arkansas to work on their mainframe for a while that hitting delete didn’t do it. 

Thanks, but I’m really quite happy living in South Florida.   An occasional trip out of here will be fine, and I do say on my resume that some travel is acceptable.  Palm Trees are required, ice and snow is decidedly not.  As any of my friends or family could tell you, South Florida was the Mermaid on the Rocks that was calling to me like the Siren out of the old Greek Myths since I was 12.  This is where I belong.

The reality of the job market and where I am in my career combined with the depressed housing market are such that I could work in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville or any other city South of the I-4 Corridor if I could telecommute 50% or more and buy a house in that city for the other two weeks for the cost of living in an extended stay hotel would.   Certainly would be worth it for me but none of those positions have come up.

I have also been contacted by one of the newpapers in San Francisco about writing for them but haven’t really pursued it.  Writing for www.Examiner.com would be interesting, but the trick would be coming up with three pertinent topics that are interesting enough every week.  Writing for a blog is one thing, it serves as a brain-dump.  This blog is either a brain-dump or something that I’ve wanted to say to my beloved sister in New Jersey that came to mind.  I can blather on and if it makes no sense, the reader gets what they pay for.  I’m not certain my style is correct for that but we shall see.  The pay isn’t great I’ve been told but I don’t make a dime on this blog.

At any rate, it’s time to start on that two-and-a-half hour epic.  I’ve got a mug of coffee to make while half of the 200 pages load.  Breaking things up was required, even my technical skills can’t make Firefox load 200 pages quickly.