UX Case Study #5: Talk Markets Forum.

Overview

Everyday, more small investors are searching for platforms that provide them with credible trade related content. They are finding that the recent spike in popularity in certain financial forums comes with the price tag of a decrease in quality content. The subreddit r/WallStreetBets is the perfect example of a smaller forum (under 150,000 members) that once offered a valuable user experience but then eventually transformed into a muddled pool of 10 million users. Financial social forum users are looking to relive the delightful moments of engaging with each other about what matters to them via funny and intelligent memes, general discord over gambling habits, and all across the board credible stock market information.

Our client, TalkMarkets, is in need of having a space for credible and reliable financial/ stocks forum where users can share their posts and comments with total confidence that their personal information is safe while avoiding overwhelming memes so the forum has more credibility.

Our overall goal was to find out from our users how to create the perfect blend of entertainment and informatics in an online financial social platform.

  • User Interview
  • Business Model Canvas
  • Competitive Feature Analysis
  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Affinity Map
  • Persona
  • Journey Map
  • Moscow Map
  • Design Studio
  • Mid/Hi Fi annotated Prototypes

Small investors want a platform where they are able to participate in online fun activities, feel free to speak their mind and be able to share all the trade related information, memes and charts with other investors.

  • Small investors need a better way to interact with each other
  • Small investors would appreciate more modern UI, and more finance and stock related features
  • Small investors love the meme culture.
  • Small investors appreciate privacy, anonymity, but feel like sharing their stock portfolio activity
  • Small investors are crude, and have a bizarre culture and value free speech.

Stakeholder Interview.

Our team conducted an interview with the stakeholders, the CEO of Talk Market. We were emailed a brief from TalkMarkets with an overview of our problem space. We opened the discussion talking about the existing parent company, TalkMarkets. We then directed our questions towards the innovation of the new product, TradeMob. Before we went into the meeting, our team created an extensive discussion guide based on the brief we were provided by TalkMarkets. We did our best at uncover every detail we felt necessary to understand before beginning the UX Research phase. This gave us a clear understanding of the problem scope and what we would be solving.

  • Going over the brief with our client gave us a chance to truly understand what they need and why they need the new feature.
  • Talk Markets wants to add a Forum, which will be called Trade Mob in order to attract users to conduct healthy discussion about matters related to finance.
  • Users would like to see a Meme culture in the forum which would attract users in the younger age bracket, especially users from forums like the subreddit, r/WallStreetBets.
  • Forum would be an exclusive financial forum and the key focus is to “Give a Voice to the Masses.”

Business Model Canvas.

The Business Model Canvas is a research tool for learning more about the company the UX team is designing for. It allows us to identify the key audience members of the site by gaining a deeper understanding of the company’s culture and value. The findings are used as a means of comparing TalkMarkets (TradeMob’s parent company) culture and value with how we envision TradeMob’s culture and value falling into place.

  • There is a clash of culture between r/WallStreetBets and TalkMarkets
  • A blend is necessary for TradeMob to appeal to the masses.

Competitive feature analysis

As our next step in the research process, we agreed upon six platforms to analyze that we felt best represented TalkMarket/TradeMob’s competition. We evaluated Reddit, Facebook groups, Quora, Twitter, Stockwits and Bloomberg via a tool known as the Competitive Feature Analysis. We compared our potential key features to the existing features that our competitors provide. We identified the features that make our competition stand out and which areas could give our product a strong hold.

  • Reddit provides an upvote and anonymity feature.
  • StockTwits for its similar target audience demographic.
  • Reddit allows users to change back and forth between multiple usernames.
  • Facebook Groups lets users create Rooms for video conferencing and create events.
  • Twitter and Facebook lets users update live video.
  • Twitter users can limit who replies to their posts.
  • Bloomberg has paid access to their users.
  • StockTwits is a niche financial forum that allows users to link their social media accounts.

Heuristic Evaluation

The heuristic evaluation is a process where we use rules of thumb to measure the usability of user interfaces in independent walkthroughs and report issues, and reveal insights that can help us enhance product usability. we were able to analyze the current TalkMarkets’ website’s overall features, rating the website’s: findability, accessibility, clarity, communication, usability, credibility, controllability, value, learnability, and delightfulness.

  • Users find Home Page a little overwhelming because it displays a bunch of articles with images and popups scattered all around the screen.
  • TalkMarkets website has major accessibility issues, and isn’t providing the most delightful experience, but the website provides great value, it’s easy to navigate and has high learnability score.
  • Screens do not quite offer a clear sense of location because not all the screens display a subtitle indicating where users are currently standing at.
  • The design of the website is appropriate and suitable for users who are into the investment world.
  • Website does not offer any personal assistance nor live chat option.
  • Some users have expressed that the font can be too small when site is suffered from mobiles.

User Interviews

We conducted user interviews to get to know our users, understand how they engage in social investing forums, and empathize with any challenges they might face.

In order to maximize our time with these users, we developed a discussion guide to provide structure to our questions. The purpose of these questions was to gain insight into user needs and frustrations.

  • We found that users read posts and comments from other people in a forum which helps them make an informed decision about their own investment decisions.
  • Users enjoy memes in the financial forums, which could otherwise get too serious and boring.
  • Users seek opinions from various sources, like people they know, articles they read online and experiences they have gone through themselves.
  • Users also get their information through videos and tutorials, since they get specific and focused information relevant to their needs.

Affinity Map

The affinity map is a business tool used to organize ideas and data. We applied that technique in order to organize all the information collected from our interviews. We found affinity mapping helpful to visualize the patterns and trends within our interviewee’s answers. It helped us gather all of our interview data and organize them into groups or themes based on their relationships.

  • Users consider that anonymity is the key reason memes have such valuable entertainment.
  • Conversely, users value when advice is posted by financial professionals.
  • Social forum users are frustrated that they are missing out on time sensitive opportunities because of spam posts.
  • Users would prefer it if their favorite social forums limit unnecessary features and improved filtration systems.
  • Social forum users want their network safeguarded from toxicity and mob mentality.
  • Users of financial forums recognize the value in non opinionated learning aids such as trackers, tickers, and charts.

Persona

Our persona, Douglas, was discovered through research synthesis. Douglas represents our primary persona, who gives us insight into any needs or frustrations of our users. A Persona profile was created, outlining Douglas’ major goals, frustrations and needs. Our persona will help us understand our users and validate our design decisions.

Persona will be used to guide who we are solving problems for. Also, a Persona provides structure to the upcoming design phase decision-making motives.

Journey Map

We considered what it looked like before our Persona discovered TradeMob. And we took note of all of his pain points, touchpoint and phases along the way. Our primary goal as a team was to design features that centered around meeting his needs and achieving his goals. These features will allow TradeMob to turn Douglas’s pain points into delightful moments experienced using the site. This process can be best summed up in the UX Process as turning our research insights to feature ideations. The Journey Map visually outlines exactly how our persona, Douglas navigates the stock market and the investment world. And what the highlights and pain points look like during this journey.

  • Douglas needs access to articles which are concise and engaging.
  • He needs an ability to filter through the posts and curate his feed on the forums.
  • He needs access to relevant information provided by verified experts.
  • He needs updated and accurate information which would help him with decision making.

Revised Problem Statement.

A revised problem statement was needed to regain focus within our problem scope and to solidify the problems we need to solve in the following design phase.

“How might we provide small investors a social platform that distributes time sensitive trade related information in a personalized manner?”

MoSCoW Map.

Upon arriving at our revised problem statement, we brainstormed potential features we would include in our product to help Douglas. We determined which features must be included in our designs by creating a MoSCoW Map. Here we decided which features Must, Should, Could and Won’t be included in our product designs based on our scope.

  • Having access to financial assets such as tickers, symbols, charts would elevate the experience for users in a financial forum.
  • Users value posts and the comments under the posts. However, they also like to have control over what comments and posts they would like to view. So, we designed features such as ‘Mute User’, ‘Block User’, ‘Block Post’, ‘Mute Post.’
  • Users find value in what other people share and hence we designed a feature where they could also ‘Follow User..
  • From our research we determined that often users had trouble figuring out who to trust when it came to financial matters. So, users need a feature where they could control who they want to follow, based on ‘Verified Accounts.’
  • Users also wanted to view information based what is happening currently and what is being talked about most by other users. We designed a feature where users could select posts based on ‘Active’ and ‘Recent’ where they could see most popular posts and most recent posts.

Design Studio

After coming to a team agreement on what features are priority and necessary to our designs, we initiated a Design Studio to generate rough ideas rapidly and visually. Sketching in time boxed increments, each team member was able to get their ideas out on paper with little attention to details that are distracting when ideating.

  • As a result of our design studio session, we were able to visualize a list of items to be prioritized.
  • Home Screen, Menu Screen, Chart Screen, Filter Screen and Profile/Message Screen were designed.
  • We added features that we had included in our MoSCoW Map and created a MVP so Douglas could accomplish his goals.

Usability Testing: Mid Fidelity

Once we finished collaborating on what the beginnings of the design will look like, we were ready to begin building our mid-fidelity prototype. As soon as we felt confident in a viable product to be released, we conducted a round of usability testing to get an idea of how our prototype will generally function with our target audience.

Our goal is to observe users while they navigate through our proposed layout so that we can build the ideal user experience. We hope that our features are to be navigated with ease by the user, and this first round of testing helps us assess any changes we may need to make before the final launch. Testing early on saves time and money when designing a product that might not meet the needs of our target user.

  • We used our paper sketches made in Design Studio and turned them into a Mid-Fidelity clickable, digital prototype via Figma.
  • We provided each user with 3 scenarios and tasks that we felt our persona, Douglas, would experience during his initial journey using TradeMob, keeping his overall pain points and goals in mind.
  • We conducted our usability testing with 5 users, some in person, some through Zoom.
  • We timed their tasks, asked them to rate them on a 1–5 scale with 5 being the easiest.
  • Users recognized the ellipsis as a common feature across social forums for moderating their own content.
  • Users associated the filter feature when choosing posts by verified users, but at first glance, the feature did not stand out to every user as an option
  • Users noted that the wording of the task was confusing , didn’t know if they should comment or message the poster.

https://www.figma.com/proto/fPWwVjCUUiOV7dlsJMHLDb/TradeMob-Hi-Fi-Prototype?page-id=0%3A1&node-id=6%3A14&viewport=334%2C320%2C0.040296770632267&scaling=scale-down

Usability Testing: Hi Fidelity

Once we finished synthesizing our takeaways from mid fidelity user testing, were ready to begin building our hi-fidelity prototype. As soon as we felt confident in a viable product to be released, we conducted a second and final round of usability testing to conclude this sprint and proceed on to closing out with our suggested next steps and recommendations.

Our goal is to observe users while they navigate through our proposed layout so that we can build the ideal user experience. We adjusted our features with the users’ experience keeping the user in mind the entire time, in the hopes that the site will be navigated by ease by the user, and this first round of testing helps us assess any changes we may need to make before the final launch. Testing early on saves time and money when designing a product that might not meet the needs of our target user.

  • We transferred our original Mid Fidelity prototype keeping the results from round 1 testing in mind into a clickable Hi Fidelity digital prototype via Figma.
  • We provided each user with 4 scenarios and 4 tasks that we felt our persona, Douglas, would experience during his initial journey using TradeMob, keeping his overall pain points and goals in mind.
  • We timed their tasks, asked them to rate them on a 1–5 scale with 5 being the easiest.
  • Users recognized the ellipsis as a common feature across social forums for moderating their own content.
  • Users had 100% success once we changed the wording in our task, where we asked them to reach out to a user privately.

https://www.figma.com/proto/fPWwVjCUUiOV7dlsJMHLDb/TradeMob-Hi-Fi-Prototype?page-id=7%3A2&node-id=205%3A16468&viewport=-905%2C1132%2C0.05021084100008011&scaling=scale-down

Google Heart + Recommended next steps.

The Google Heart Framework is a methodology used for UX software improvements. The ultimate goal it achieves is increased revenue. It is suggested that company’s evaluate the overall user experience on a long term basis by categorizing the user centered metrics in into 5 different components.