Handshake Homepage Redesign

What is Handshake?

Handshake was created to ensure that all college students have equal access to meaningful careers. Handshake’s community includes 20 million students and young alumni around the world from 1,400 educational institutions. The platform connects up-and-coming talent with 650,000+ employers.

The Problem 

Handshake’s student mobile product was built as a 1-to-1 of the web product. As such the mobile product lacked a strategic focus to suit mobile users.

Handshake was perceived to be just another job board with little to differentiate it from a saturated marketplace. Users had a low awareness level of the robust events offerings and opportunities to meet with and message employers and recruiters on the platform.

My Role

As the lead designer on the project I worked closely with a project manager, copywriter and a team of 6 engineers. I ran a design sprint with cross-functional partners to understand the business needs across our three sided marketplace.

Design Sprint

I have always loved design sprints, but this project marked the first one I had run with a work from home distributed team. The tools and collaboration exercises that had worked so well when we were all in a room with post-its, whiteboards and paper needed to be reexamined and retooled. I spun up a schedule and set of exercises to solve for the challenges of a remote team. The collaboration, ideation and communication in the 4 day sprint far exceeded my expectations of what a remote design sprint could accomplish, and surprisingly providing better results than previous in-person design sprints I had participated in. 

The outcomes of the sprint set north star principles for the homepage product on web and mobile project, a concise set of redesign goals as well as a bucket of insights and ideas that served our teams roadmap planning for the coming quarters.

The Process

As the homepage of the product is a high touch and high visibility surface area the numbers of stakeholders across the three sided marketplace was high. In planning the project extra care was taken to loop in leadership and cross-functional partners early and often to ensure a smooth process. This began with a foundational step of establishing goals for the redesign:

  • Communicate that the platform is not a static job board, but rather a healthy marketplace with people ready to engage.
  • Help students be successful in their early career by recommending they attend events, message recruiters, and meet people on the platform.
  • Show the marketplace is healthy through updated content and increased recommendation accuracy.
  • Clearer visual hierarchy, scrollable homepage to suit the hunter/gatherer behavior.

Connecting with users and testing solutions was also a key step to ensure that the solution we set forth served the breadth of users. Partnering with a user tester we tested prototypes drawing insights for the current solution and gaining key insights for the next steps in the phased roll out of the homepage overhaul.  

The Solution

Handshake was missing a key opportunity to  differentiate the product in a saturated marketplace. The new homepage showcased that every job posted had a real person connected to it, and that early career talent was able to form relationships with recruiters, hiring managers and employees. By helping students understand the value of building relationships, and connecting with employers on the platform users were able to learn more about relevant job opportunities and increase conversion.

By updating our mobile homepage to focus on relationships, we can shift the perception of Handshake to a relationships platform and the best place to find full time jobs.

  • Clearly communicate the value of Handshake beyond just jobs
  • Surface opportunities for 1-on-1 chats with employers, recruiters open to messages, group session opportunities and events where they can get face time with employers.
  • Provide context for where the relationships come from. Layer in the human elements and tie jobs and events to people (e.g. ambassadors, people you’ve met/talked to)
  • Include social proof and meta data to elements ( e.g. show # of students in your major/school who are attending events, viewed the same job, share jobs/events with your classmates)

User Testing

Results of user testing were positive across the board. Users had an intuitive grasp of the benefits of the relationship connections even if they didn’t thoroughly read the copy. Users perceived benefits of the product were: direct communication with recruiters, ability to assess fit more effectively, and making connections.

We also received positive design feedback from all users: The way the information is presented was clear and the design created excitement for the relationship building features.

“Kind of like a mix of LinkedIn and Facebook, because LinkedIn and it has a more professional, you know, edge or aspect to it. Facebook is more social, you know, telling a little bit more about yourself and I felt like it was kind of like a combined mix of the two.”

“It is just very aesthetically pleasing. I really like the way that it is also divided up. It’s not overwhelming with information either, which is great.”


36% increase in WAU from the same time last year.
16% increase of weekly active users on native.
48% increase in mobile installs from the same time last year.
10.8% lift in employer follows.