Designing an app to help drive retention
for an investment publishing company.
Banyan Hill is a publishing company that provides smarter, safer, and more practical investing advice for people worldwide. As the lead designer in Threefold, I worked closely with them to create a mobile app to increase user engagement and retention.
Lead Designer @ Threefold
Sketch, Adobe Photoshop, InVision, Principle, Maze and UserTesting.com
An exciting challenge like this is a perfect opportunity for a design sprint to help the team focus on the right problems, goals, and solutions, while keeping Banyan Hill’s customers in mind.
We started this project with a design sprint to gather insights, prototype ideas and validate them quickly. It helps us reduce the risk of launching a new app since we can fast-forward into the future to see a version of the app and customer reactions, before making any expensive commitments.
A four-day design sprint with the Banyan Hill team in their sunny Florida headquarters.
An interactive prototype, tested by Banyan's users, and with clear insights on where to go next.
We broke the four-day sprint down to focus on understanding the problem, challenge, and goals on day one. We’d also take time to look for inspiration and brainstorm ideas. Day two would be all about deciding and defining our solution. Day three would be a busy day of building our solution and getting ready for user testing. And lastly, day four would be testing our solution, gathering feedback, and defining the next steps.
We want to drive user engagement through active users enjoying using the new Banyan Hill app every day, increasing user retention and customer lifetime value.
The percentage of daily engaged users that are browsing content in the app (Increasing Engagement).
A poor user experience results in terrible app ratings, and our users don't want to use it.
That our users have smartphones and want to use an app, and will they find content in the app?
After defining our problems, goals, challenges, and scope, we then brainstormed ideas to solve our challenge. Once we had come up with a list of ideas, we decided on what we'd include in our prototype, storyboarding helped us define the scope.
Then, we created the low-fidelity wireframes to stitch together to make a realistic enough prototype ready for user testing with Banyan Hill's users.
Lastly, we tested our prototype with real users to test whether the idea solves the problem and defines the project’s next steps. InVision was used for the prototype, with Zoom for performing moderated user testing and Dropbox paper for capturing user observations.
women / men
1. Understanding do users have a smartphone?
2. Understanding do users try to use the Banyan Hill website on their phone?
3. Understanding will users be able to use the app to find content and not get overwhelmed?
4. Understanding will the large number of trade alerts frustrate smartphone users?
5. Understanding whether an app can drive engagement and retention?
After performing on our design sprint we know the following.
Quantitative analysis of the data indicated that only 30% of users access the Banyan Hill website on a smartphone. This percentage changes from time to time and has been growing over the previous year. This doesn't mean that only 30% of Banyan Hill customers have a smartphone.
The vast majority of users said they would be annoyed if they received more than five notifications a day. And that they would probably disable notifications for the app.
The good news is the app is easy to use, and users could easily find content. But they are several features missing — mainly due to the limited scope of the design sprint— that Banyan Hill customers love, so we’ll have to add these to the future version.
Banyan Hill can use the app to drum up user excitement which is excellent for both engagement and retention. Several users mentioned how they “can’t wait” to start using it.
If you could change one thing about the app, what would that be?
“More historical trade info”
“I'd like to see trade alerts”
“bringing start trading to the front”
“more ways to search for a guru”
What was the best thing about the app?
“It was intuitive and easy to use even for an amateur like myself”
“It was very well made, and much easier to find trade info.”
“This will make me trade more”
What was the worst thing about the app?
“figuring out how to see unlimited profits stocks in my watchlist was the worst part. I couldn't seem to find that.”
“I want more chart options”
“I didn't like having scroll to find the start trading button”
It is essential to continually test whether a design solves a particular problem and doesn't create new ones. We followed an iterative approach to design UI improvements to create an app that better meets user needs.
Create high-fidelity designs based on the earlier prototype.
Continually test whether the designs meet user needs and business goals.
Before we jumped into creating high fidelity designs, we ran a workshop with stakeholders to define the app’s style and visual identity. Once completed, we created a stylescape of how the app will look. Allowing us to get sign off earlier on the look and feel of the app.
Next, we used our low-fidelity designs, user feedback, and stylescape to design the app’s high-fidelity visual mocks. Working closely with our developers and stakeholders, we iteratively improved our app design to the point where it matched the look and feel of a released app.
Next, we went about recruiting users and tested the prototype with them. We used several tools to help in both the recruiting and user feedback. Typeform was used to screen Banyan Hill’s customers. The prototype was created with InVision, Maze and other tools helped us perform both moderated and unmoderated user testing.
women / men
1. Understanding will users be able to navigate and find content in the app?
2. Understanding will users be able to find the latest updates from an expert?
3. Understanding will users be able to find a particular stock in the app?
4. Understanding will users be able to find trade alerts in the app?
5. Understanding what are we missing from the app?
At the end of our user testing, we know that users can use the app and do not find the amount of content overwhelming.
The vast majority (over 94%) of users commented positively about its usability, layout, and design.
Around 13% of users mentioned that they would like a little more features in the portfolio, and how options are displayed in the app.
It is unsure that users will be able to find trade alerts in the app.
However, the test is not a true reflection as users will receive app notifications, and there will be a notification over the profile icon in the app. It is not a significant risk, and we can monitor when the app goes live.
24% of users want to purchase stocks directly in the app or share with their broker.
This is something that we mentioned during our design sprint earlier.
69% of users commented about how the content offered, and functionality is fantastic.
One user even wanted to sign up for “Profits Unlimited” after the testing. This app will help increase user retention and is a great product offering for Banyan Hill customers.
Although the user testing was extremely positive, it identified a few areas that needed tweaking with the prototype. With user testing, all feedback (the good and especially the bad) is fantastic if you can learn from it. We continued to iterate on designs based on the findings, some were added to the roadmap, and some we just are unable to act on due to legal issues.
The app opens to show users the latest updates from their favourite experts and topics they follow; allowing them to see tailored investment advice which helps them become a more profitable investor.
The portfolio in the app provides insights into experts predictions for specific stocks. This includes historical analysis, recommendations, previous positions, and articles that they should read to understand the market better.
Users have access to all their favourite experts and topics. Each expert provides unique insights and expertise in the stock market. All of which enables Banyan’s customers to become smarter about the stock market.
Trade alerts allow users to see precisely what Banyan’s experts are trading. Providing them with stock advice, they can immediately act on to get better returns.
Lastly, they get all the available premium features on the website, including special reports, downloadable content, podcasts, video updates, and exclusive portfolio access.
All aimed at providing smarter, safer, and more practical investing advice.
The following steps in this project were closely working with devs while building out the app, which meant more design changes due to unforeseen technical and legal constraints. And we created the app stores that would convert users, and we made all the promotional content needed for launching the app.
It has since been released, and we’ve worked on several rounds of improvements and new features. The feedback has been excellent, and it has helped to increase user engagement for Banyan Hill. All of this was just the beginning of a continually evolving app that Banyan’s customers currently love.