UX Case Study: A Cross-Pollination of Small Investors and Finance Experts

Picture of TradeMob

EMBRACING A BIG OPPORTUNITY

The subreddit r/WallStreetBets, is the perfect example of a smaller forum (under 150,000 members) that once offered a rich user experience but quickly transformed into a muddled pool of 10 million users. The rapid growth of the forum led to a loss of quality content. Quick access to good information became difficult, communication deteriorated, and the forum became primarily a place for memes.

THE CHALLENGE

FINDING THE PERFECT BALANCE

Our goal for this project was to create a financial social forum, to provide small investors with access to trustworthy stock market information while still being able to engage with other users in funny and intelligent conversation.

  • To enable casual and serious investors to exchange information on a common platform.
  • Make it easy to find reliable information.
  • Ensure the forum looks and feels modern.

MY ROLE

I led the design of the forum, during the three weeks of the project, and collaborated with two other designers on all screens of the responsive website.

KICKOFF

STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE

In order to create the perfect blend of entertainment and information in an online financial social platform, we wanted to hear from financial forum users and empathize with their challenges.

  • THE FINE LINE BETWEEN ANONYMITY AND TRANSPARENCY
    Users are more likely to post personal content when they feel like their identities are being protected. Conversely, users value when advice is posted by financial professionals that are candid about their personal experiences.
  • OVERLOAD OF INFORMATION
    Users are distracted by an overload of content and need more control over what’s displayed and they are frustrated about missing out on time sensitive opportunities because of spam posts.
  • TOO MANY BUTTONS!
    Limiting unnecessary features and adding more niche filter options are appreciated by users.
  • TRUSTING ISSUES
    While users value and pay attention to what other members of their favorite forums are posting, they are conflicted when deciding whether to follow them or not.
  • THE POWER OF REAL DATA
    Users of financial forums recognize the value in non-opinionated learning aids such as trackers, tickers, and charts.

THE DISCOVERY

BACK TO A MINIMAL EFFORT EXPERIENCE

It was surprising to hear what our interviewees had to say. The complexity of a financial discussion forum was intriguing to observe. Increasing popularity of financial forums made access to reliable information difficult, and the forums became more intricate. But after some thinking, it became clearer that small investors expected the experience to just work with minimal effort.

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Journey images
  • New to the investment world
    When Douglas was first hired as a Bank Teller, he was super excited to learn more about the investment world. Sadly, it hasn’t really pan out to be as valuable of a resource as he thought it would be. His colleagues are speaking in financial terms that he can’t really follow, and when he browses the web for some simple layman’s terms, he actually ends up even more confused. He is super upset because while he was busy researching tools, he missed out on an investment that he knows he would have made a ton off of.
  • I love the memes!
    He decides to hop on his favorite forum, Reddit, to lighten up his mood. He loves all the meme content on there, and overall he values that type of entertainment culture. He then peruses on over to his favorite subreddit WallStreetBets. He loves scrolling through to learn and laugh at posts made by users who are paving the way in meme stocks. If he could just stay on r/WallStreetBets for all of his needs he would, but he’s realizing that it doesn’t really offer much beyond intelligent humor.
  • Too many spam posts
    He decides to give Reddit one last shot as his key investment resource, but is shocked to see how many spam posts are being made by the trolls. He’s wondering if he’s just better off going back to Google to find out what he needs. So, as a solution, he decides to do a search for some popular financial influencers to learn from.
  • Should I trust these people?
    As he’s doing his search, he finds a decent amount of people out there willing to share their advice. He’s appreciative, but is weary about how seriously he should take them. He doesn’t know how to factor in good advice to his financial decisions. He knows better than just blindly following one person, and is aware that just because someone *says* that they’re an expert doesn’t necessarily make it true. Ultimately, he just wishes there was a product out there to use that would shake away the manipulators and bring the good guys forward onto center stage.
  • Missed opportunity
    He is excited to restart his learning experience but then he is smacked in the face with bad news; he missed ANOTHER opportunity for money! At this point Douglas can’t envision himself being a successful small time investor.

THE GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE

Before I could jump into design, as a team, we felt it was important to take a look at what’s currently available.
So we conducted a competitive feature analysis by examining 6 discussion forums:

  • Reddit
    We considered the value in Reddit’s upvote system, the safety that comes with giving users the option to browse and post anonymously, as well as the filtering system for the user to decide on what is primarily displayed on their news feed.
  • Facebook Groups
    We liked how they offer live video and private chat rooms for their group members. We felt like those were nice touches to include when combining safety with interactive user engagements.
  • Twitter
    Twitter is another huge social media platform that offers the ultimate controllability for the user when it comes to up to date content. We also found it neat that users can restrict how many replies they get on their posts.
  • Quora
    We liked them for their niche topics and their “Asked To Answer” feature that lets posters reach out directly to professionals when asking a niche question.
  • StockTwits
    We found StockTwits to be a great example of combining the financial world and social interactions. The site is jam packed with financial features, and we personally found them resourceful when learning more about the financial world.
  • Bloomberg
    We found the legendary Bloomberg as another useful tool when learning financial lingo and the overall ins and outs of what’s reported in financial journalism.

THE CREATION

INTRODUCING TRADEMOD

TradeMob review images
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HOW WE GOT HERE

DESIGNING FOR DOUGLAS

My design strategy was informed by our target user, Douglas. And as you could see above, my team and I prioritized the most important features that we thought would provide most value, using a MosCow Map. Here we decided which features Must, Should, Could and Wouldn’t be included in our product designs based on our scope.

Design studio sketches

THE TEST

DID WE DESIGN THINGS RIGHT?

Once we finished collaborating on what the beginnings of TradeMob’s design would look like, I was ready to begin building our mid-fidelity prototype.

100% of our users were successful in the first task

80% of users rated the easiness of the second task at 4 out of 5

The third task had a 60% average success rate. When asked to “reach out to another user”, most participants were divided between the option to comment on a post or to send a message.

After feeling confident with our first test results, I received the green light to begin high-fidelity prototype development.

We had a 17% increase in the average success on all tasks.

100% success rate on two of the tasks and 80% on one task.

Mobile Prototype Link

NEXT STEPS

THE WORK IS NEVER DONE

  • Research on a target audience that possesses more financial expertise and is interested in participating in a forum centered around financial topics and doesn’t look down at the meme stock phenomenon, but rather sees it as an opportunity.
  • Desktop view prototype is to be tested and potentially improved before the development stage.

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