Designing an Investment and Trading platform

fluidesigns May 15
Traders are the most power users of a Computer system, on average a trader makes 30 trades per min. So, you can imagine what level of efficiency is required from a trading platform. One single mistake could cost him millions. On the other hand, investors are the ones who take their time to carefully analyze a stock by looking at the essentials like Market Cap, P/E ratio, Dividend, charting tools, etc. to make their final decision. And, designing a hybrid platform for both kinds of users can be one hell of a challenge. In this article, I’ll take you to the whole UX process of designing a platform for the same.

Know your users, business goals, and the product

Before directly jumping onto the designs, make sure that you have a thorough understanding of 
    • Users: You should have a fair understanding of the percentage of traders and investors who are going to use your platform. Among traders, percentage of daily traders and bi-weekly kind of users and percentage of Mobile users. These things seem useless when you are starting the project, but trust me, as you move forward in your project this data will help you in taking some micro-decisions.
 
    • Business Goals: Trust me or not, this is the most important aspect of any design project, if you want to return with a hefty pay-check and build a good repo with the client/core team. Get all the stakeholders in one room and ask them about their expectations from this platform, whether it should be a revenue-generating platform or a volume generating platform. For eg; traders might be responsible for 70% of the volume but investors might be responsible for generating 80% of the revenue. So, the traders will give the company numbers to attract more customers but investors would be the ones who’ll be actually responsible for generating profit. The stakeholders might have different expectations and goals, it’s very important to align their thoughts before starting.
 
  • Product: Designing a product without knowing it is like cooking food without knowing the ingredients and recipe. For creating a user-centric product, you should be able to step into the shoes of users. And for that one should know about the functionalities and working of the product. Before starting this project I did my groundwork by learning the fundamentals of investing, terms, and tactics used by investors/traders. Also, I signed up for a Demat account and started trading in stocks. If actor Christian Bale can go through extreme body transformation just to fit in the role, why can’t we do our bit? After gathering all the required information, the designing process can be started but I have seen some beginners being confused about where to start from. Different designers use different pathways depending upon their experiences and requirement from the project. But, the best way to start in an organized and structural way is by first deciding the Information Architecture which will give you a blueprint of the whole project and the rest will start falling into place.

    Information Architecture

    Too often, content is organized in a way to fit based on what makes sense to the company, not the users. To avoid this mistake, the Card Sorting approach should be followed. Card sorting is a UX research method in which study participants group individual labels written on notecards according to criteria that make sense to them. If you’re designing a Music app and your company offers wide varieties of songs. Your company might follow the old school approach of categorizing music as per the genre or top x of y. But if you actually think from a user’s point of view, most of them are not even aware of the genre, they just want a song that suits their current mood and activity. So, a better approach would be to categorize into Moods & Activities like Chill, Romance, Sad, Party, Focus, Workout, etc as done by Apple Music. Similarly, if you think about an investment platform stakeholders might use technical terms like Stocks, Futures, Mutual Funds, ETF’s, etc. although it might make sense to the traders, investors won’t be able to get all of them. So, it would be better to categorize it by the key actions like Buy, Sell, Recommend, Market, etc.

    Dashboard

    Have you ever been to a Supermarket but got overwhelmed with the number of options available? You walk around the perimeter a few times and find things like butter, egg, meat, and vegetable but have to walk up and down 2–3 aisles to find the next item. That’s because of the bad customer experience. Dashboard works the same way, the user shouldn’t get overwhelmed with the information and actions to do. The user should be able to get an overview of what he has and get a glimpse of all things he could do with the platform. Also, the business requires some things to be pushed to generate more revenue but the user shouldn’t feel it to be too salesy. The recommendation and products should be surfaced contextually to their needs. Actions related to the information should be clear and available upfront to make his life easier.

    Components

      • Forms: The users tend to get anxious while doing any transaction-related activity. Make sure to follow Gestalt Principle to avoid confusion and improve readability. Some advanced fields can be kept hidden as it is only relevant to professional traders but not the investors.
      • Tables: It constitutes 60% of your design components and could be very difficult to display a large chunk of data. To make the design flexible, make a horizontal scroll table with the first column fixed. Use white and grey alternate colors for the rows to improve scanning.
      • Contextual Actions: To give users more power over the platform contextual actions can be introduced. Suppose you are buying marinated chicken and find a QR code that instantly opens the top 10 recipes to cook chicken, it would be a delightful experience for the user. Contextual actions in our case may include actions like Buy or Sell depending on how the stock is performing.
     
      • Personalized Recommendation: The Internet is full of vague recommendations which have close to zero correlation to user’s needs and behaviors just because you accidentally clicked on a related link somewhere. Rather be more emphatic to the user and give suggestions which can help them build a better portfolio.
     

    Conclusion

    It is difficult to sum up the nitty gritties in one article but Designing for finance is a completely different ball game altogether. It requires extensive research about the business, domain, users and a good understanding of UI patterns and interactions.