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A Usability Evaluation for an Investment Platform

In the Spring of 2017, I worked on a team consultant UX research project for Omega Point, a San Francisco-based fintech startup that helps portfolio managers make better, more informed, data-driven investment decisions. Our aim for this project was an in-depth needs assessment and usability evaluation of the Omega Point platform.

USABILITY EVALUATION: OMEGA POINT (INVESTMENT PLATFORM)

 
 
 

OVERVIEW

In the Spring of 2017, I worked on a team consultant UX research project for Omega Point, a San Francisco-based fintech startup that helps portfolio managers make better, more informed, data-driven investment decisions. Our aim for this project was an in-depth needs assessment and usability evaluation of the Omega Point platform.

 
 
OP Team
 
 

RESEARCH GOAL

To help Omega Point improve their platform, our research was centered on understanding registered investment advisors’ needs towards quantitative analysis tools when they are thinking about how to best manage portfolios. Our research hinged on two main research questions:

  • What usability problems does the current system have?
  • How does a registered investment advisor conduct his analysis research and manage his investment strategy?
 

UX RESEARCH PROCESS

 
OM Process
 

INTERACTION MAP

In order to better understand the current state of affairs (the website structure and potential user flows), we began our research with an interaction map.

We learned that there were three main interaction areas for users on Omega Point:

  • Factors allows users to use certain filters to more thoroughly research investments
  • History allows users to review past data and analyze trends
  • Simulate allows users to dive a bit deeper to run various simulations to better understand the risk and return levels of potential investments

INTERVIEWS & PERSONAS

Because we needed more knowledge about the daily lives, motivations, and needs of investment advisors, we next conducted four interviews of potential target users for Omega Point.  The goal of our interviews was to learn more about how they manage their investments and what tools they use in order to give us more information about how we can potentially improve the Omega Point platform. After analysis of our qualitative data, we reported the four findings back to Omega Point:

  1. The diversity of potential users in the financial world is vast, with various needs
  2. There are a wide variety of competing tools, although most appear to focus on research
  3. Trust in managers and trust in a platform are paramount

COMPARATIVE EVALUATION

Our team performed an in-depth comparative analysis between Omega Point and nine of its primary competitors. The main goals of our comparative analysis were to learn more about the competitive landscape in the investment technology space and determine where Omega Point’s relative strengths and weaknesses lie.

Our key findings were:

  1. Omega Point’s strengths lie in 1) their features that allow users to perform quant-based analysis and 2) their user interface which is extremely intuitive and offers a pleasing aesthetic
  2. Axioma and Bloomberg are significant, established competitors who satisfy almost all of the key dimensions analyzed
  3. Customizability is an area where Omega Point and other competitors can and need to improve.

SURVEY

The interviews and comparative analysis raised a few questions that we wanted to dive a bit deeper into. Our main research questions were thus:

  • What portfolio analytics tools do these respondents use?
  • What are the most important features for potential users?
  • What are the work habits and schedules unique to these potential users?
  • Are there potential features that Omega Point can build that were not originally considered?
     
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HEURISTIC EVALUATION

Using Nielsen's Ten Heuristics we performed in-depth individual and group heuristic evaluations of Omega Point's platform. This process allowed for an intense exploration of potential usability issues that Omega Point's users face when they use the platform.

This evaluation led to the following recommendations for Omega Point:

  • Prompts should display where the error actually occurs.
  • Omega Point should highlight the field that results in error in color red.
  • Instead of using “Knowledge Center,” Omega Point can use “Help” for the help section and place it in a more significant position in the dashboard (such as the upper right corner.)
  • A consistent system of informing users of errors and successful actions should be implemented.
  • Omega Point should maintain consistency in naming conventions of tabs.

USABILITY TESTING

There were five steps in the study of usability testing: developing a test plan, piloting the test, recruiting participants, conducting actual usability tests, and analyzing data from testing. After conducting four in-person usability tests and analyzing the data, we discovered three high-level findings:

  • Participants want a way to quickly find definitions or further insight to any term or object that they see within the Omega Point system.
  • Participants do not inherently trust data presented at face value, so transparency is needed.
  • The Simulations tab is the least understood portion of the platform.

With these findings in find, we suggested the following actionable recommendations to improve the user experience of Omega Point and make it more accessible for potential users:

  • Assist users in using Omega Point by making all objects clickable.
  • Instill trust by providing more transparency into the data used and underlying models.
  • Provide some information as to how a user can use Simulations.
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FINAL VIDEO PRESENTATION

Our team put together a final video, that I narrated and helped to edit, summarizing our process and our final findings and recommendations for the Omega Point team.