Evaluating the TrendyTrade Experience
During the summer of 2016, I interned at Damappa and worked on the TrendyTrade project, an application that leverages social media engagement to develop smart insights for better investment decision-making. I conducted a usability inspection of the platform to identify problems in the user interface design. My research report focused on how to solve the pain points that arose from inconsistent use of signs and high cognitive demands for loyal interpretation of data.
I first established an appropriate list of heuristics that drew from Nielsen and Molich's 10 heuristics, Ben Shneiderman’s 8 golden rules, and various data visualization heuristics. The visualization-specific heuristics were highly relevant for this particular project because at the core of the platform’s goals is offering user-friendly data graphics that are comprehensible to users from different backgrounds.
I evaluated a high-fidelity prototype by going through it multiple times while recording usability problems and keeping track of the heuristics that were violated by the design.
Finally, I generated a research deliverable with annotated interface screenshots and presented it to the design and development teams. The report described the method of research, explained usability issues, and outlined recommendations to fix these issues.
Key Insights and takeaways
Color is a strong signifier and must be carefully used
Color plays a central role throughout the TrendyTrade platform, especially since red and green are strong signifiers in financial settings. It is important to maintain consistency and avoid situations where the colors take on different meanings that can be contradictory to those that users have learned in the real world—for instance the color green highlighting a 'hot stock' even if the stock price is falling.
There were some inconsistencies in the way users interacted with slideouts, sidebars, and drawers. I proposed guidelines for consistent use that follows users' mental models, reduces their learning and cognitive costs, and facilitates habit formation.
Visually Comparing Areas is Difficult
The platform visualizes social media indicators, including news, tweets and influencer mentions, for the stock market. I reported on perceptual conflicts that could potentially mislead users. Area judgments and comparisons are cognitively challenging, especially when circles overlap. My suggestions included allowing the user to view the circles separately and having the option to see the sum of both news and tweets.