In 2016, TradingScreen kickstarted a new SAAS trading platform to serve the wealth management market, as a spin-off of its main software, TradeSmart, a highly complex trading platform.
In 2019, after a series of changes in the project structure, I was brought in to completely redesign the app, and create a new vision, delivering a full featured, yet easy to use, trading platform.
To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of TradingScreen.
I led the User Experience and Interface design, as well as UX strategy for the QUO app. I also advised Marketing’s CX activities. As a systems thinker and consistent experimenter, I always look at the big picture, having a future-oriented approach on all projects.
On the marketing side, I have redesigned the QUO website (PHP/jQuery/CSS), and advised our Marketing and sales teams on digital marketing strategies. I have also re-architected the entire QUO help site, from content strategy to wider CX considerations.
Due to the sensitivity of the information handled by our users, and the fact that how the users perform their routine tasks — trading in the financial market — is considered a trade secret, it is not possible to conduct direct user research on this project. Communication with users, and feedback gathering, is conducted through our account specialists and support team.
Therefore, an inordinate amount of trading learning was required so I could understand and map the user journey from afar, as well as be able to piece together actionable feedback from subtler hints in support communications. User surveys are out of the question, and the few questions that can pass through strict screening must be worded in a way that the answers would not reveal sensitive information.
Feedback trickled in, and by treating those qualitative results, and reading between the lines, valuable insights were derived about user behavior, such as the time sensitivity of a wealth manager vs a day trader, the tolerance to progressive disclosure, the volume of information the user can handle on screen — much higher than the average app user! — and more. Low level personas were then crafted from the information gathered.
Usability was fundamentally nonexistent, workflows had many sidetracks, and focus was undecided between function and information. At some point, portfolio filters were done by command line interface using a particular syntax that users needed to learn well in order to derive meaningful information from their portfolios.
My first 3 months were spent solely on learning everything I could about the wealth management profession, about the current software offering from TradingScreen, and about the previous history of the project.
A vast number of stakeholder interviews, and chats over the espresso machine, took place, which helped me to carefully construct a picture of the current platform, and start to put all of this to paper, so to speak.
Time constraints kicked into gear, which impelled me to create a QUO/future vision for the app by the end of my fourth month. That vision integrated reworked workflows for most tasks, as well as a fully redesigned user interface, with several new features and radical changes.
However, QUO was already on version 3.9, and the world could not grind to a halt in order to integrate every reworked workflow and new feature. In collaboration with our technical lead, I have forked the prototype into a “transitional version”, where we would integrate the new design with current features, and a few possible improved workflows.
Discovery was essentially learning the rudiments of a new profession, wealth manager, as well as learning the capabilities of the current platform, front- and back-end, and having key questions answered at any cost.
Competitor software, as well as our own offering, were extensively analyzed, and the draft of user journeys started to take shape, corroborating part of my assumptions for our initial personas, but challenging several of my initial understandings.
QUO, as a platform, in intended to initially serve the wealth management market, from small family offices to large funds, as well as clients of well-known brokers. Many of our users came from trading over the phone to a full SAAS platform, no soft transition, and no shallow learning curve.
As a truly international product, many of our customers don’t speak an uniform trading jargon, and many transitioned from different professions into the wealth management business.
QUO needed to be easy enough, accommodating enough, to allow for an easy transition for all levels of trading knowledge. In order to achieve that, I have opted for a fully informed interface, where the user would have all the pieces of information at hand at all points in the journey, with the firm caveat of designing a “power-user mode” down the road.
A decision has been made to show security details — all the information regarding a particular trading product — at nearly all steps of the order workflow, as well as from the watchlists, blotters and even the notifications screens, with live ticking prices and P&L.
Being constrained by the screen real estate of the browser, and designed to work from tablets to desktops, total awareness is a must. Design devices were created to allow users to quickly visualize parallel transactions on the same instrument at several steps of the workflow.
QUO is not a consumer app. It is an expert information aggregation and order workflow system, beyond most B2B platforms in complexity. The needs of our users are mainly functional visualization and precise, error-free workflows.
As a platform that existed for about 3 years, and iterated through 3 major versions before I joined, QUO had a large set of constraints in place, that made re-envisioning it a sizable challenge. Major features were fully developed, and various workflows were found to be quite unbendable.
QUO needed to reach a stage where users could quickly find securities, place an order to a broker, and immediately view the order in their Blotters with real time updates. The user’s portfolio, from various sources, must be fully manageable, understandable, and updated in real time, with a vast amount of financial information at the user’s fingertips. Users even wanted a panic button!
A major feature required for wider adoption of QUO was white label. The ability of implementing some of our larger clients branding, essentially making QUO their own, to give to their own clients and vastly improve their workflows, whilst cutting costs with phone trading and support.
I have architected the CSS structure to implement easy white labelling, relying on clever use of HSL color calculation to effortlessly match our client’s brands, and CSS variables to allow for centralized color tweaks without allocating dev time for the task. I have also worked together with our technical lead to devise a theme switch implementation that would allow easier in-app white label prototyping.
Our main offering, TradeSmart, is a magnificent piece of engineering, one of the leading solutions for highly skilled trading, being feature rich and highly customizable. However, as an installable software, it has a long implementation time and a very steep learning curve. Designing a long-term plan for a SAAS replacement is imperative, and QUO fits the bill. I have been planning the UX strategy of QUO to become that replacement.
The redesign of QUO, with a high level UX strategy of focusing on being an ever evolving and future proof platform has paid off. Positive client feedback is on the rise across the client base, from small family office employees to larger broker’s clients on a white label solution.
At the time of writing, QUO is on a steady exponential growth path, with no sign of a slowdown.
For confidentiality reasons I have omitted the actual values for these metrics.