An investment platform tapping into a gaming experience to inspire people to learn, grow, and share their investment knowledge.Product Design UX Research Usability Testing User Experience Creative Direction UI Design
Two long-time friends in France, all grown up now. One went into the gaming industry, the other finance. They both have a passion for technology, creativity, and a desire to invent and launch an innovative FinTech startup to help people learn about investing and manage their finances.
Back when I was running Kizmo, they approached me to design a product that infused the entertainment and engagement of gaming with the strategy and thoughtfulness of finance.
Working with the founders, we established a set of hypotheses about their business model and requirements, the audience's needs, their knowledge, desires, and how to make an experience with a FinTech product useful, fun, and more importantly, memorable.
We recruited participants for an initial UX research phase with more than 20 people from different backgrounds, careers, incomes, and education responding.
Be agile. Perform smaller, ad-hoc user research frequently throughout a project, rather than depend on a large initial research phase, leaving no room for pivots along the way.
Selected participants first filled out a survey, designed to collect quantitative data to validate (or invalidate) our hypotheses and establish the process for ethnography research.
A couple of days later, my team and I set out to visit participants at their offices and homes for in-person interviews and observation of their day-to-day behavior while managing their finances.
Concluding the ethnography study, we launched a week-long competition for participants to select a portfolio of stocks. As an incentive, the person with the highest returns at the end of the week would win their choice of a gaming console or an iPhone.
Providing a list of stocks in many sectors to choose from, we gave our participants a simple interface to build their portfolio and fill out a survey to collect information about why and how they chose their stocks, what their experience was, and confidence level.
The competition app was developed to track user behaviors such as time to choose stocks for their portfolio, did they click links to research stocks, how often they checked on their portfolio, did they look at other participant's portfolios to compare performance, and much more.
The insights collected from our field research evidenced where demographic and existing market research intersected with our established hypotheses and business goals, providing a clear path to what the product would become.
Over 60% of people grade the financial services industry with a ‘C’, ‘D’ or ‘F’ when it comes to explaining financial planning or investing to consumers.
The majority of participants, even those who self-identified as "active investors," expressed feelings of frustration, often commenting that financial news and websites were "all greek" to them.
They all expressed a sense of guilt because they realized how the market affects them, and yet made little effort to educate themselves.
76% of research participants cited close relatives and friends as their most trusted financial advisors.
The research confirmed that the majority of our participants sought financial advice and help from close family and friends long before speaking to a financial consultant. Some claiming they would never speak to a finance professional because "they're not rich," implying that they don't feel the financial industry has a place for them.
The results of the study showed an unmistakable consumer desire for simple, fun, and educational finance experiences, creating an obvious opportunity for us to deliver an engaging platform for the masses while supporting more advanced users and industry professionals.
We also uncovered significant challenges people raised:
87% of research participants were more confident in investing in brands that they use. The shoes they wear, the car they drive, the toothpaste they buy, etc.
This is also supported by the research results from the competition that verified our hypothesis that if we can educate and engage our audiences in fun and rewarding experiences, they would likely become more confident and proactive investors.
We didn't want people to just "check-in" on their investment portfolio, we wanted people to log in, explore, learn, quest, discover, and earn.
The focus was to create a finance experience that is fun to use, but also a robust financial education platform that is usable by both novices and the experienced alike.
Getting into UX design, I was looking to create a highly interactive experience, inspired by some of the most legendary (and addictive) video games ever.
A key element of the UX design was a HUD ("Heads Up Display") for a real-time summary view of vital statistics, level tracking and level-ups, points collection, and progress of quests.
As users gained levels, they would earn rewards, access to new financial analysis tools, and be exposed to more advanced features that would help them learn financial concepts at a rapid pace all while engaging them in an entertaining experience.
I developed multiple prototypes to perform usability testing throughout the course of the project. We scored task completion analysis, as well as cognitive scoring to gain insights into what people would be seeking and how they would use the application in their day-to-day lives.
While early field and ethnography research helped us to better understand our audience’s challenges, fears, and barriers when it comes to investing. Our usability testing sessions provided qualitative insights into people’s needs when using the application.
Technology has advanced financial news and the stock market. Information has become more real-time, more interactive, and more complex. Traditional stock charts and data visualizations don't tell the whole story.
The research confirmed that people, beginners and experienced, looked for the valuation of brands they know and love before looking at the details like market cap or trends data.
Research showed the average person bases their investment decisions on advice from trusted family and friends, and the brands and products they love and use.
So, we sought out a different solution. One that doesn't rely on people's understanding of complex data visualizations yet provides access to concise and useful information that novices and experts could digest at-a-glance and interact with.
The result was a first of its kind interface with brands displayed as chips, with a consolidated "score algorithm", simplifying market cap, valuation, price-of-purchase, and more for users in a single view.
The UI allowed users to select multiple brand chips to drag-and-drop for details, comparison, analysis, and add to investment portfolios. Sure, it was a learned experience, but one that was easy to comprehend in use and encouraged interaction and exploration.
The thought was, "why stare at a line chart when you can play with the brands you love?"
Tapping into gaming experiences, we designed a platform that inspired users to explore, do quests, discover, earn rewards, socialize with others, level up, and - without even knowing - learn about personal finance and investing.
We set out to design a product that made learning about finance and investing a fun experience, but also applicable to people's lives. They shared their experiences and teamed up with other players to teach, to learn, and to win.
Kapitall was the world's first drag-and-drop gaming platform for learning how to invest in your future.
"Michael worked very well with our company and delivered a very slick product on time. We wouldn't be the same without him." - David Neubert, Co-founder