WOWO – creative direction

Guiding people towards rewarding and fulfilling careers.

WOWO is a vetted local tech community that shares resources, insights, knowledge and inspiration in order for its members to build and enjoy a more fulfilling work life.

WOWO inspires its community to turn interests into opportunities, and goals into game plans by harnessing the power of a vetted community.



Abacus Talent specializes in IT recruitment in Montreal. As seasoned recruiters, they felt that the traditional recruitment model had become more of a barrier than an aid. Recruiters were getting a bad name, and candidates often felt mis-represented or taken advantage of. 

The traditional hiring process is opaque, with the power on the hiring side. Candidates find it difficult to get a clear picture of what working at a given company is really like.

Working with Jasmin Cheng, a brand strategist and consultant, Abacus decided to move forward and build a local community where IT professionals and companies could share market insights, foster growth and training, and build brand advocacy. They aimed to disrupt the recruitment industry and flip it around.

I started working with Abacus in early 2015 as a lead on a variety of creative tasks, from research and strategy, to branding and UX design.

Cait brought the pictures in my head to life. She brings me good design on projects and gives me the confidence that I’m offering a positive user experience. She’s got a good vision of global project as well, where things fit in together.
— David Habak, Founder of WOWO

SLIDES FROM Initial Proposal


Part 1

Brand Story + visual Direction

Abacus had been specializing in placements for foreign-trained IT professionals for nearly a decade. Through interviews, we discovered that the people that Abacus placed appreciated the straight-talk, and the supportive and helpful human approach. In a sea of bad recruiters, they were the good guys. They took the time to explain things, they did their research, and they truly cared about the advancement of their customers. But their approach was highly personalized, took lots of time, and required a 1-on-1 relationship. 

Their name ‘Abacus’ was formal and evoked the bottom line, and did not accurately reflect the personal approach so appreciated by their customers.

It was from this realization that we chose to create a separate company with a focus on community and career advancement. After a long renaming process, we found a name that stood out as unique, unexpected and memorable. We went with WOWO, short for We Only Work Once.


Brand Research

Following an empathic approach, I started with getting into the mindset of the target audience. Through the interviews, we had narrowed our audience down to 4 user personas.

Abacus specializes in IT recruitment. I started with investigating the visual landscapes that web developers and engineers were used to seeing. One insight was that most IT websites are basic html. Logos are barebones and derivative. Popular typefaces are sans-serif, humanist or geometric. Symbols like pixelated type, question marks, or an overflowing stack are used literally. These websites are for getting information and leaving, and miss opportunities for exploring topics further.

WOWO has a different goal from sites like GitHub or StackOverflow. Where those sites are a primary source for technical information, WOWO is more focused on people and careers. Our goal was to be in the cross section between hard tech sites, and more editorial ones that provide insight and inspiration.


Logo design process

We had two goals in mind for the logo. First, it needed to be recognizable to speak a visual language that IT people were accustomed to seeing. Secondly, we aimed for it to be uplifting and open to interpretation. We wanted to move away from literal icons and move into the conceptual realm.

To start, the central concepts to the WOWO brand were sketched out. These concepts were important to keep in mind throughout the logo design process.


Next, I looked at different sounds and shapes that could communicate the above concepts in a graphic and simplified manner.


Logo selection

After presenting a half-dozen concepts, a winner emerged. Nicknamed 'the reactor', the new logo is simple, bold, contemporary and futuristic.

The circles punctuate the O’s, orbiting like dynamic atoms. They also evoke images of satellites, or satellite communities. The placement of the circles connote balance and equality, as well as the representation of both sexes.

With WOWO’s bold name and logo design, it was clear that we needed to differentiate further from traditional recruiters corporate aesthetic. We needed to embrace the personal, emotional, and inspiring look of tech disruptors such as AirBnb.

We identified 4 visual factors that would align with the brand : Bold Style, Colour, Illustration, Dynamic Excitement.


A future career should be exciting frontier filled with possibility. Embarking on a mission to discover it is exciting and scary. WOWO offers mission control, and guides a person on their quest. 

A visual metaphor presented itself, and we decided to convey the idea by commissioning retro-styled space exploration posters. They personify the user profiles, composed and ready to discover their next mission.


Part 2

Taking the concept digital

Our ‘WOWO Explorer’ concept provided a visual and conceptual framework for connecting with customers, but how could we take this concept and bring it into the product experience?

By using empathic research, we identified the needs and difficulties associated with the modern job search. We studied each part of the puzzle; the temptation from companies to write the “unicorn” job posting. The boilerplate company descriptions that all sound the same. The frustration of new hires to be able to know what the company culture will be like. The ambiguous descriptions of skill levels. The team’s DNA.

We wanted to create an experience where potential hires and companies alike could make informed decisions about work, while learning from the community and improving themselves.

Building a platform from the ground up was a large task. By using a collaborative approach between design and UX, we were able to create something new while respecting best practices.

The User Profile is a core feature. Inspired by a spacecraft HUD (head-up display), this is where the user can plan their career missions, log their trajectory, and see their progress.


Guided Job Search

Through our research, we concluded that a great job opportunity was a balance between company culture, salary, software, commuting time, and learning.

By breaking down matches into these categories, we were able to create a personalized job search experience where users can search globally or filter based on salary, skills match, or commuting time.


Skill cards are an important element. A user adds a skill card to their profile and indicates their level of experience. These cards are then matched against the cards in job postings. Percentage match overviews display the results enabling a user to quickly assess whether or not the job is a good fit.

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