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Five rules for a successful (and accessible) careers site

By Lotte Jones, Creative Projects



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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December 12, 2019 | 7 min read

A commitment to a diverse workforce starts from the candidate pool, ensuring that anyone - regardless of ability - can navigate, interact with and understand your careers website.

Wiser provide a clear how-to guide for marketers looking to create a careers website.

Wiser provide a clear how-to guide for marketers looking to create a careers website.

Before you jump into a new careers website design, there are several things to consider to ensure it’s accessible for everyone.

Copy content

It’s all Greek to me: Don’t alienate readers by using long sentences, complicated words or unnecessary jargon. Tests such as Flesch Reading Ease can help to check how complex your copy is, looking at the average sentence length and the average number of syllables per word. The higher the score, the easier it is to understand, and the less likely you are to deter potential candidates.

It’s all in the name: While it’s important to have fun with your website copy and ensure you’re sticking to your company’s specific tone of voice, make sure important titles and names are clear. A website with otherwise excellent navigation can be let down by confusing menu titles or buttons with a vague purpose. Don’t lose functionality for the sake of creativity - people can get lost.

Could you go global?: Keep puns or idioms in your website copy to a minimum if you’re targeting beyond the UK. However much you’re attached to specific words or phrases, cultural references can get lost in translation. Even native English speakers can get confused when idiomatic or punny copy goes too far. Have a distinct tone of voice, get creative with your language, but make sure the meaning is clear. Ultimately, careers websites are a functional part of your website - they need to work or you’ll lose people along the way.


Don’t choose style over substance: Once you’ve chosen your words wisely, you need to make sure they’re readable. Make sure your chosen font is clear and a good size - don’t choose a jazzy font as a design feature if it means people can’t read the text. For an area of your website such as a careers website, you need to prioritise functionality and accessibility. Don’t choose style over substance - find a happy middle ground between the two.

Size is (sometimes) everything: If you’re designing a careers website that can be viewed on mobile devices, your body text should be a minimum of 16px. When holding your phone at a natural distance, you want the text to be as readable as the text in a well-printed book. You can reduce the text to around 13px for unimportant captions or labels - anything too close to your main body size could confuse the reader.

Watch your spacing: Line spacing is commonly measured as a percentage of font size. Anything from about 120% up to 200% is acceptable, but it tends to be the most commonly agreed that if you hit 140%, you’re on the money. If you have too little space between lines, it means letters can touch - making for poor readability and terrible accessibility. Anything under 100% will be almost impossible to read. Having too much line space is less of an issue, but anything around 250% can cause the reader’s eyes to jump between lines.


Prioritise content over colour: When designing parts of your website that contain text, make sure your focus is not just on brand but on readability. Body text should be AA compliant to make sure everyone - even people with visual impairments like colour blindness - can read the content on your site and important information isn’t getting lost.

Don’t be afraid of white space: Make sure your site isn’t cluttered and there’s enough white space - let the design breathe so you can find things easily. Not only does whitespace give websites the simple, clean look and feel, but it also allows content to be more digestible and accessible to users. Also known as negative space, whitespace is the area between elements on a web page, including images, typography, and icons. Used well, whitespace can balance elements on a careers page and create a natural candidate journey.

Use colour and code: When building an application or submission form, don’t just use colour to show that something is wrong or a compulsory field - use symbols as well. Give visual clues to make sure people with colour blindness or other visual impairments can use your forms effectively. Just because a box turns red to show it’s empty, doesn’t mean that message has been communicated to your whole target candidate pool.


Design for all abilities: Everyone needs to be able to apply to jobs so make sure you’re designing with everyone in mind. For instance, some people will have restricted hand/mouse movement and will need to access everything via the keyboard.

Respect for responsive: Whether you are loyal to Apple or Android, it’s important to design for desktop, mobile and tablet screen sizes - regardless of the device. If your site is not fully responsive it’ll be pretty frustrating to use and is a big indicator of a bad website - not the impression you want to give.

Make it Speedy Gonzales: Swish animation, super high-quality images and autoplaying videos will definitely impress prospective candidates - if they load the page. There are ways to reduce loading speed without compromising your assets too much. Autoplaying videos only when you scroll to them is one of them.

Images and video

Give silent movies a comeback: Subtitling video content is more important than ever as lots of video marketing, particularly employer branding content, is watched on social media as people scroll through their feeds. It’s also crucial to subtitle any video content to ensure that people who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to access it.

Make it a double: If your careers video includes key information such as how to apply to a job or programme, make sure the facts are doubled up in the body text. Don’t have any vital content hidden within a video, as not everyone will take the time to watch it - however engaging it is. Keep important information as a navigable item on the site and make sure to signpost it.

Be representative, not reductive: When choosing imagery for your site, think about including a diverse – but representative – pool of people. If employee diversity is a focus area for your business, make sure you’re featuring a big range of people from all walks of life. If you can see it, you can be it.

Lotte Jones, partner at Wiser.


Content by The Drum Network member:


Wiser is an award-winning creative & recruitment company combining culture and performance to change the way people think about work.It's a home for people who...

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