React hooks and context
Next.js SSG and SSR
Next.js dynamic routing
Algolia + Firestore search
A playful, user-focused solution to help young people easily access apprenticeships
You can read about my apprenticeship with the BBC here
Pretty bold claims, I know, but this is something that really resonates with me. Sparking from a coursemate's idea of starting a podcast, and my nerdy interest in web development, I was motivated to tackle the colossal project of building an all-in-one platform for apprenticeships. This is still clearly a work-in-progress, but the idea and intention is there to really make an impact.
Throughout the design, I'd find myself referring back to well-known, user-friendly platforms like Patreon, Airbnb and Bark to name a few. The key with these platforms is that all the content is user-generated. The role of the platform is relatively simple, in that they literally provide a platform for users to interact and make transactions.
The homepage lets users jump straight in.
Imagine you're about to finish school or college - when it comes to 'next steps', university is always the main talking point. Get to seventeen, and suddenly your teacher sits you in front of a computer with the UCAS site ready for you to apply. Lightbulb aims to do many things, but ensuring the representation of apprenticeships and helping young people easily explore them is the overarching intention.
What if, alongside UCAS, students were given a site like Lightbulb to scroll through? Who knows, but I'd like to think it would help them realise the endless opportunities that are out there. At the very least, I'd just hope they thought the site was cool.
Keeping things nice and simple
As soon as I spoke about the platform with my coursemates, ideas began to spiral uncontrollably - it was amazing. We'd obviously all been through the apprenticeship hunt; it was as if each of us had already thought of multiple ways to make it easier.
We thought of ways to help people who didn't know what they want to do, like implementing those psychometric quizzes and games or just simple questionnaires. We thought about how we could use push notifications and emails to remind users when an apprenticeship's applications are closing soon, or when a new one pops up. We even thought about how we could encompass the entire application process in one place: from initial application, to video interview, to assessment centre. What if all that was integrated in your calendar so you can stay organised? The list goes on.
Focused on making apprenticeships look exciting
Designed to capture the excitement of a new career
I loved designing Lightbulb. Having compared it to to other apprenticeship sites like gov.uk, or even any recruitment platform for that matter, nothing out there really captures the excitement of starting a new career like Lightbulb. This is one of the main reasons I found designing Lightbulb to be so fun - like, this is the standard we should expect! No more boring plain text with no pictures, in a way it feels like recruitment sites are almost getting left behind, as far as UX goes. And why can't employers just tell you how much you'll be getting paid before you spend valuable time applying? I don't know, but I feel like there's lots of ways online recruitment can be improved - not just for apprenticeships.
"Nothing out there really captures the excitement of starting a new career like Lightbulb"
Apprenticeships come with an interesting dynamic of tying together three sets of people:
- Employers, e.g. BBC
- Trainers, e.g. University
- Apprentices, e.g. Me 👋🏼
Looking back at the original design, I feel like I overlooked the importance of the trainers - focusing more on the recruiters and apprentices using the site. The ultimate ambition is that Lightbulb would be an apprenticeship hub - where people can read access and explore all sorts of apprenticeships in one place, and know exactly what the scheme's all about. From where they'll study, to where they'll be based, to where they might progress afterwards. Applicants deserve to know this information straight up.
Really, the goal with designing this platform was to imagine how amazing the process could be. When I started my apprenticeship in 2019, degree apprenticeships felt like a sort-of magical, hidden gem that nobody can find or do. We'd hope that a platform like Lightbulb would bring apprenticeships out of the shadows, and help establish a bigger and better apprentice network. Not only that, but by making it easier to become an employer or training provider for apprenticeships, it would allow more companies to start their own apprenticeship programs. This way, more young people would be able to hop on one of these great schemes, and companies can experience the benefits of having apprentices - everyone wins!
Simple search results, visually displayed on the map.
Where do we go with this now?
This idea resonates with me so much, I'd love to see it through to live production. The idea is being developed and designs are in place. At this point, we've shown this to recruiters and HR within the BBC, as well as individuals from the National Apprenticeship Service. So far, the feedback has been great and I've loved presenting our ideas to these audiences. But, there's work to be done before bringing this idea to the level we initially imagined. Personally, I can't wait to see where this goes.