Talentnext : The online talent recruitment platform for Bollywood
The Hindi film industry, known as one of the most thriving and successful business enterprises of the world has captured the awe of many. ‘Bollywood’ as it’s known, is the stuff of dreams, comprising the phenomenal success of the underdog mixed with lineage actors from heritage families of film. However, the one element keeping this wildly fascinating world alive is talent. Often overlooked, the value of talent is as known to the audiences as it is to the filmmakers and producers who redefine themselves and their craft.
The science of moviemaking might have evolved through the years, adapting technologies, CGI, and marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve, but the art of moviemaking couldn’t –
this highly unorganized, talent-spotting relied heavily on an inefficient mix of ‘instinct’ and/ or the unnecessary sacrifices made by the talents themselves. This fuelled the age-old idea of ‘luck’ being the foremost contributor to an artist’s success, which in perspective, is highly flawed.
The problem was as prominent as the solution was obvious: ‘Bringing talent into the spotlight it deserves and creating an infrastructure that elevates this purpose.’ This led us to converting the complete process of a typical casting/recruitment for a movie project to an online one, while made accessible and highly customizable. Thus TalentNext was born. But what was TalentNext again?
Quite simply, a comprehensive talent recruitment platform for both production houses and talents to access, give and take auditions through multiple rounds, all without even stepping outside their house!
Once the idea was in shape, we had to sculpt it. This essentially involved hashing out the specifics, which is extremely crucial for any product.
Step 1: Understanding the core proposition
The first step was to identify the value this product will bring to its users. No project, however big or small can sustain itself without understanding and validating its core proposition. It was crucial that everyone involved, would be able to answer the simple, yet challenging question of ‘what does it do?’ Fortunately, this idea was clear from the very beginning, and just needed to be fleshed out. Enabling talent around the country to showcase their skills directly to the decision makers, and giving them a genuine platform to achieve their dreams.
Step 2: Identifying the ethos of the brand
Once we all agreed with the core proposition, it was time to define the spirit of TalentNext. What we believed in, how we perceived this to evolve into a culture and what we would personify this brand as. This ethos also helped us define the flow of the website, the instances of which you can see on the final product.
It all boiled down to one concept: Make the environment as inviting and relatable as possible. For a platform that prides itself on empowering talent, it’d be a shame if it can’t even be approachable or understood.
Step 3: Working the specifics
Undoubtedly the most integral process in this journey, this is where we flesh out the idea and specify every aspect of the product. The hardest part is to pick a starting point. You simply begin with what you have, and build on it, which is what we did.
The Screenplay: Wireframes and User flow
Applying the standard operating procedure of PracticeNext, we began the wire framing and user flow mapping, this is where the skeleton structure of the platform came along, evolving from an idea to a full feature platform. Here, it was important that we learn from the industry in its functioning, and iterate for online accordingly.
For example, we realized how unfiltered the talent pool is in India, and how a lot of people simply browse into this space to while away time. While that is ok, it disturbs the chances of genuine talent being spotted. Seeing this, we created a strict sign-up process, requiring all vital information of the talent, down to the specifics like build (for actors and models) to genres, thus inviting serious artists first, while showing them that we meant business.
The Stage setup: User Interface design
Here we concluded that due to the volume of information on the website, a card-based design would suit the content classification for users. This also enables an interaction design, which could be implemented across devices seamlessly, thus keeping a uniform identity. The objective was to take a complex idea and fit it into an approachable interface, suiting everyone who used it.
Behind the scenes: Creating the Backend
A perpetual process, running alongside all these steps is of course, the backend. Considered the backbone of any dynamic project, its concept is rarely understood by most stakeholders, and its complexity, highly underrated. As simple as the concept would be for users, it would be as complex to create in the backend. With this approach, we set off to create one of the most dynamic products for both talent and recruiters alike. From user management, to job status and real time messaging between talent and recruiters – the objective was to design a system that takes care of every aspect of job hunting and auditioning, leaving the users to just focus on their talent.
Empathy – The bitter pill for a successful product.
When the product is in-house, one is bound to be overprotective and steadfast of their idea. However, that does not lead to a very usable product. The part most people forget is that although the idea might be yours, its success depends on how comfortably others use it. This is why empathy is imperative to the design and development process.
Taking a cue, it was important for us to move forward with an open mind, inviting all opinions (with valid reasoning) towards building a better, user-friendly product. That would sometimes involve rejecting our own suggestions, but we took heart in the fact that it was aiding the bigger picture. With the insights we gained from within the industry, we identified the points of friction that users face, and worked towards those problems – ensuring a seamless, easily usable interface in the end.