Trading Platform for Financial Instruments

A platform for the comprehensive management and facilitation of trading, clearing, and netting of complex financial instruments in accordance with new regulatory requirements.

The Problem

Certain financial instruments necessarily have significant regulatory demands placed on them when they are traded, because of the magnitude of risk associated with those activities. The concept of a clearing house for regulated financial instruments is well understood, but is difficult to implement with these financial instruments because of their extreme structural variability. Our client developed a unique approach to managing and comparing them, and wanted a platform that would support their goals of risk management and mitigation from both the perspective of the clearing house and the individual member bank users.

How might we support the various users of this clearing house platform in proactively assessing and mitigating risks?

How My Team and I Helped

Problem Definition

While we were initially brought in as a sub-contractor on the project to "implement a UI" for the product, we rapidly came to the conclusion that the product needed more assistance from a product concept design perspective, and that there was insufficient information to simply implement a UI in accordance with best practices.

Through discussions culminating in a workshop with both the original client and the contracted organization that brought us in, we were able to expose inconsistencies in the product documentation and reframe the problem in such a way as to maintain the original project timeline while ensuring our work would actually be able to provide value.

User Experience Research

Given the nature of the product, user experience research directly with the end users in the myriad of roles supported by the product was impossible. Instead, we combined primary research with proxy users and subject matter experts with secondary research into existing products and behavioural finance psychology.

In this way, we were able to get a sense for some of the motivations and goals of the users even in the absence of effective contextual inquiry with actual end users.

We developed service and experience maps to determine the necessary feedback loops across a wide range of different roles on the platform, and to ensure offline service interactions' impacts on the portal interface were considered in any designs we assembled.

Product Strategy & Concept Design

As we discovered, much of the product concept itself was undeveloped or underdeveloped. By proactively engaging with both the end client and the company that contracted our team to do the UI portion of the product, we were able to generate ideas for additional related products as well as high-value features and functions for the platform that had not previously been considered.

By being able to absorb the significant volume of documentation associated with the platform, being willing to keep asking "why?", and being prepared to propose ideas without having an end-to-end solution in mind, my team and I were able to jumpstart creative and productive co-creation sessions with the client.

Interaction Design & Testing

Over the course of a very short timeframe, our team assembled interactive clickable prototypes of several major sub-components of the platform and collaborated with front- and back-end developers to build several other fully-operational components of the platform.

Design testing with end users was severely restricted, so we compromised with hallway testing to verify the usability of certain workflows in a general sense, and play-by-play walkthroughs with proxy users to ensure that nothing was lost in the myriad of service touchpoints between different roles.

We used "fuzzy box" wireframes, where certain content areas were deliberately left blank, to help constrain and frame our proxy users' and subject matter experts' perspectives when we were trying to uncover needs and priorities around particular types of information or processes.