The FinTech industry has opened new doors to an untapped market of a group of investors who lack financial resources and services. I worked on a project for a brokerage firm that explored an innovative way of investing for people who had low to moderate levels of financial literacy. The platform was modeled after a familiar online shopping experience. It was approved for development in early 2018, and a minimum viable product was released to a limited number of users just one year later. I was one of two UX designers on a team of 11 professionals dedicated to building this platform.
Natalie has heard many positive things about investing, so she opened up a new brokerage account. However, she is reluctant to invest because of her lack of knowledge and experience. She doesn't trust herself to make a good investment decision, especially since she doesn't know how to place a trade. She often feels overwhelmed by the amount of resources available to her. She is willing to learn, but needs help getting started.
It was important to recognize and appreciate that beginner investors had the motivation to learn and become better investors in the future. We leveraged this insight as the foundation for the product.
The concept of an investing platform that behaved like an ecommerce website sounded straightforward at first, but soon we identified complexities that had to be addressed.
Complexity 1: It is possible for beginner investors to have more than one account. If not now, then later (e.g., a brokerage account and an IRA). We had to make sure the design was scalable to account for this use case.
Complexity 2: Unlike a typical ecommerce website, investors should be able to buy AND sell one or more securities at a time.
I designed three different ways to handle the complexities mentioned above:
1. Single Account Trades
This design allows users to place orders on one account at a time. In other words, if Natalie adds shares of DNKN to the cart, but doesn't check out, she won't be able to trade in a different account until she completes her initial order. It is limiting to the user but guarantees no mistakes will be made when placing a trade.
2. Account Specific Carts
This design allows users to place as many orders in as many different accounts as they want. Each account will have its own dedicated cart and transaction flow. Natalie can add shares of DNKN to buy, then add shares of SBUX to sell (from her existing position), then switch over to her IRA account without losing her previous order.
3. Buy Cart & Sell Cart
This design consideration was an out-of-the-box concept. It treats buys and sells as separate transaction flows. It is account agnostic, but is trade direction specific.
I facilitated a design critique workshop with my team to get feedback on the three design considerations. From a development and product perspective, the most viable option with the least amount of friction was the 2. Account Specific Carts. From a UX perspective, well... we were anxious to get some user feedback!
20 beginner investors were recruited for a remote moderated usability test.
Finding 1: 18 out of 20 participants understood that carts were account specific based on reading the label for the account selector, "Select account." The remaining participant wasn't sure if the account switching would move the added shares of DNKN from one cart to the other account's cart.
Finding 2: All participants completed the task of buying and selling successfully. They expected to add the buy orders as well as the sell orders into the same cart for one single account. We observed all participants mentally calculate the estimated total to make sure that the "sell" credited the account and the "buy" charged the account -- this meant they fundamentally understood that placing multiple orders in their account was for a single transaction.
Through team collaboration, user feedback, and iterative design-thinking processes, we landed on a solution for a complex problem that was tested and refined, all in a matter of a couple of design sprints.
If you would like to see a demo of this project, please reach out.