Disclaimer: I do not work for Robinhood. The views from this case study are strictly my own.
A Concise Short Brisk Quick Brief Intro
Robinhood’s mission is to democratize access to the financial system. They have built an investing platform that lets you buy and sell stocks, exchange-traded funds, options, and cryptocurrencies, all commission free.
I decided to conduct a two-week case study to enhance the Robinhood iOS experience.
TL;DR — As a user of Robinhood, I wanted to learn if there were any usability problems that could be fixed. Through research, I was surprised to identify four pain points that most users were experiencing. I then prototyped my solutions and validated them with user data.
My goals for this project were to:
- Consider UX research methods to uncover user problems
- Generate solutions based on observable data
- Prototype and test solutions with users to enhance the Robinhood experience
Research: Guerrilla Usability test
I decided to conduct guerrilla usability because of my limited time and budget.
Despite the simplicity, employing a guerrilla usability test can be a powerful tool to observe how people interface with a product. It is estimated that testing with just five users will reveal 93% of what can be discovered in a product.
I asked seven strangers in the San Francisco Ferry Building to complete specific tasks to test the core functions of Robinhood (I promise it was less creepy than it sounds).
Heres a few examples of how I prompted someone to complete tasks:
“Your friend recommended Robinhood to buy/sell stocks, please show me how you go about buying a share of Snapchat.”
“You recently moved to San Francisco and you want to update your address. Please show me how you would update this information in the app.”
While approaching complete strangers is mildly uncomfortable, it was a great way of observing real problems that users face.
I also created a survey to gather additional research information (check out the spreadsheet here!). Luckily, a fair number of my friends (n=22) were users of Robinhood and they were happy to help with the project. Thank you guys!
Synthesizing My Research Findings
I was happy to observe that all seven people were able to successfully buy and sell assets without any problem. The design team at Robinhood has done an exceptional job of making the process intuitive and approachable.
Guerrilla Usability Findings
Survey Findings (n=22)
- 3 users cited major privacy concerns
- 95.2% primarily interfaced with Robinhood on their phone
- 38.1% were not satisfied with the amount of Portfolio Detail
I summarized the problems into 3 categories
- Home Screen: Small Tap Targets and Privacy Concerns
- Menu: Misleading Information
- Portfolio: Lacking Detailed Information
Time to Play with Some Design Software! 😁
Pain Point 1: Home Screen Tap Targets Are Too Small
While watching people interact with the home screen I found that four out of seven people had an issue selecting the time frame because of small tap targets.
I think that the size of interactive elements are especially important to consider for users with motor and/or vision impairments.
The smaller interactive area requires more cognitive effort for the user and can leave them feeling dissatisfied and frustrated after making mistakes.
I suggest not changing how the buttons appear because the interface is currently well balanced. If the display size of the buttons were enlarged, they would become a dominant element on the page.
I chose this size because it is a good standard when designing for the average human finger (Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines also references touch target size). This change, although small, increases confidence in the product and reduces frustration.
Pain Point 2: Home Screen Privacy Concerns
Throughout this project, I did my best to let discoveries from user research guide my process and decision making.
A great example of this was when three separate users all communicated the same privacy concern.
“I always have to turn my brightness down first so no one sees the amount”
They were troubled because their account balance was always displayed prominently on the home screen of the app. In general, people are reluctant to share information related to their personal finances.
When I initially tried to solve this problem, I created a feature that allowed you to blur out the account value. Although this gave users more privacy, I had a feeling that I didn’t quite nail the solution.
I then prompted users for feedback and went back to the drawing board.
I ultimately landed on a solution that allows users to change the information that is prominently displayed when the element is tapped.
This is a more successful solution because it resolved user privacy concerns while staying consistent with Robinhood’s design themes and values.
95.24% of users (20 out of 21) thought that this feature could improve the Robinhood app.
Pain Point 3: Misleading Information in the Menu
Three out of seven people had difficulty completing the following task:
“You recently moved to San Francisco and you want to update your address. Please show me how would you do this.”
Users wanted to navigate to their account settings but incorrectly went to their portfolio.
My solution is increase the clarity of navigation. I accomplished this by changing the wording of the element from “Account” to “Portfolio”. I also introduced a new icon that better represents the associated interface.
I blurred out the aspects of the screen that were not relevant to this solution.
Please note: I did not test this with enough people to be statistically significant. If I had more time and resources, I would have liked to conduct a more robust test to validate that this change improves accuracy.
Pain Point 4: Insufficient Portfolio Detail
During the usability test, six out of seven users tapped a non-interactive element for more information.
This was the most common behavior I that observed during the project.
From listening to users, I learned that they wanted more data to feel secure and confident about their investments.
Robinhood’s website has a detailed dashboard but unfortunately most users do not utilize it. Through my research, I discovered that 95.45% of users (21 out of 22) primarily interface with Robinhood on their mobile phones.
I think it’s important that mobile users have access to the relevant information so I explored numerous displays by sketching ideas on paper.
I decided to increase the clarity of the segmented circle that represents a user’s portfolio by adding color to represent different assets.
I also integrated the option for more information while staying consistent with Robinhood’s current design.
I really enjoyed refining my design methods through this case study and I had fun uncovering ways to improve Robinhood.