oDesk - Bidding, Client Interaction and Project Award Policies and Mechanisms
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Project Search Mechanisms
oDesk’s project search engine is accessed by choosing “Find Jobs” from the “Find Contractors & Jobs” menu at the far right of the site’s top navigation bar. By default, this brings up a page consisting of a list of oDesk’s nine job categories and dozens of total subcategories, with the total number of current projects in each one shown after its name. Clicking any category or subcategory takes you to a page of search results, showing current open projects in that area, ordered by date with the most recent first.
oDesk offers several alternatives for searching instead of just looking in a single category. You can browse by skill instead of category, or do a keyword search. You can filter results based on category, number of openings, employer’s feedback rating, job type (hourly or fixed price) or time elapsed since the job was posted. You can even filter hourly projects based on duration/workload, or fixed price projects based on budget. These filtering choices appear both in the advanced search engine, and as clickable options once search results are displayed. Several sort orders are also available as an alternative to project post date, allowing you to sort results based on client characteristics such as hours hired, total paid, or feedback score.
While oDesk’s search options are pretty good, the search results leave much to be desired. First, only ten project summaries are shown per page, and there’s no way to increase the number. This makes navigating through the large number of projects on the site slow and annoying. There’s no technical reason why they couldn’t put in an option to allow for 25 or 50 or 100 projects per page, and while such pages would increase processing time, the net load on their servers would probably decrease due to receiving fewer page requests.
The amount of information provided for each project is pretty sparse as well, being limited to the following:
Extra information about the employer can be obtained by hovering over the “dollar bill” icon, including the employer’s total money paid, location, and when they signed up at oDesk. Much of this is important information, and given that there are only ten results per page anyway, why bother with the silly pop-up? Just put it right on the page where we can see it! The same goes for qualifications: if a client lists preferred qualifications such as feedback score or number of hours billed, this can only be seen by hovering over the word “Qualifications”, which has a small magnifying glass next to it. I’m sure some designer finds this cute, but I think it’s just a waste of my time.
I am pleased, though that oDesk finally started putting timestamps on the project search results! For years, the company only showed how much time had elapsed since each project was posted. While these may seem the same, they are not: many contractors review project listings periodically during the day, and the old system made it much more difficult to tell how far back one had to scan to find only the new listings since one’s last visit. I personally requested this in 2009 and am glad they finally put it in. :)
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Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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