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3 different design proposals by well-established design firms for Bloomberg's complex, information-rich online interface.

I am curious: which one is your favorite & why?

"web design shop" thehappycorp uses social interaction, personalization & different forms of data visualizations, inspired by lava lamps or Newsmaps. it includes a cyborg-like wearable sensor to monitor the health of the worker, a Wii golf game with a handicap depending on on your actual market performance (& somehow an old-style telephone wired to the keyboard).

design firm IDEO presents on a more natural way of navigation. the left screen shows general information, while on the right, drilled-down detail data dynamically pops-up. several wearable display devices can be attached to the screens, post-it style. a form of "tactile scrolling" on a touch panel allows users to cascade between the different information panes.

finally, Ziba Design focuses on a restrained use of color, & a wide range of data visualizations, from simple bar charts to complex 3-D data representations that make use of animation & motion. they also envision some sort of "space-saving" holographic displays & a blown-up version of the iPod wheel for navigation & interaction.

[link: portfolio.com|via lvhrd.org]


design: thehappycorp

design: ideo

design: Ziba design


Personally I prefer the second one, with the wearable display. One of the things which is missing in computing interaction is a really smooth ubiquity. It should not be painful to transfer, hold, communicate data around. Paper is sometimes more ubiquitous.


Fri 20 Jul 2007 at 9:00 PM

I think the Happy Corp redesign is pretty terrible. Though the 'lava lamp' is a nice idea it's poorly executed with Design overwhelming the data. The rest of the design is information poor an not exactly easy on the eye with bold colours and false 3d charts creating a lot of visual noise. People stare at these screens all day the display should be as soothing as possible.

The Ziba's attempt is better but still seems to be sparse on data which is after all what these screens are about. The users of them quickly become experts at navigating and reading the system so the complexity needn't be hidden.

I think the Ideo design, whilst obviously the most traditional, is the best. Dark text on light background, easy on the eye. Lots of information is presented whilst a strict grid layout and the absense of un-necessary visual elements and 'chart junk' prevents the whole thing becoming a noisy mess. Relegating the video to outside the main display is also a smart move as often the purpose of the video is peripheral/ambient information and the visual component of the video, a talking head, can more oftent han not be ignored.

Fri 20 Jul 2007 at 9:05 PM

I also like the ideo design - they've thought about the different things the hardware can do (2nd screen as spill-over space that can be reclaimed, the portable video components).

In this respect, the "fun" aspect of Happy's design begins to look trivial. Bluetooth cardio and a Nintendo joystick is what they come up with in terms of the terminal itself? I think Tom, above, pretty much nails the critique, though I can see the hobbyist/home trader enjoying an interface like this. Specifically, my mom would love this.

I'm really curious to know what people think of the Ziba navigation disc - that seems the most interesting thing about their proposal.

Interesting catch, there.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 12:13 AM

ideo by a long shot. It looks easier to read, the information flows well (from what I can see). Personally, I'd run it on 2x 30" monitors, but hey....

the happy one looks like a toy. The other one is too futureistic - the design takes away from the information.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 2:15 AM

agreed. IDEO by far the most appropriate. I'm guessing since this is not an actual project, it was probably hard or impossible to use a Bloomberg terminal for any significant length of time.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 2:48 AM

I love Newsmap and so I was pretty sure I'd vote for the happycorp design--until I saw it. Treemap is great, but the rest is just silly.

The IDEO design is simply stunning. Bravo! I think I may have just found my new personal homepage design.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 3:01 AM

As an information designer for a data visualization company, the only serious entry would seem to be Ideo's. A professional trader requires efficiency, not superfluous visual displays.

thehappycorp seems to have a very cool interface for novice users, and come to think of it, the wii would be an interesting platform for bringing stock trading to the masses. But they can't be serious about this design as anything more than an advertisement for the company. The quantitative data density on their display is perhaps 5% of the original Bloomberg display.

Ziba design has an interesting design that would work well in cinema or theater to visually represent a stock trader at work (spinning globes, charts that take up 1/4 of the screen) in a dramatic way. But these become less and less important as you use them every day and you adapt to the interface. And with an information density even lower than thehappycorp's entry, it's not even a contender. Finally, without knowing enough about their input device it's hard to say what the efficiency would be, but I would be surprised if it actually had a higher bandwidth than a keyboard.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 3:19 AM

definetely IDEO. cleaner, simpler, easier to use.

as an aside, i like the contacts horizontal bar in the happycorp design. a bit like twitter but for finance.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 3:27 AM

I don't really know, because the portfolio.com site makes it very difficult to compare the designs. Why not just do side-by-side screenshots?

The color schemes and flash layout without back-button support really turned me off.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 4:26 AM

IDEO by far, but its still got flaws. I haven't seen how traders use this, but in large corporations a lot of these displays are installed in common areas. Once authenticated, any number of people can use them. Aside from having to keep in mind relatively limited personalization/customization (or, I guess, some way to centrally store this profile information) the view environment is sometimes very different from a desktop, and instead is used standing in a common area. These small elements still look hard to peruse and I wonder if some other solution is out there.

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 6:56 AM

What a luxury: Three great companies doing comps for a complex data-rich UI!

My first reaction:

Besides Ziba's bold promise of a "holographic display" there is no meat behind their proposal. I like their "Where in the World" idea... But the rest seems a simple exercise on "Chromatic Consistency" (yawn)

Obviously I like IDEO's clean approach. But I start feeling that is the dated approach in UI: Truly beautiful graphic design indeed... So? They don't seem to bring anything to UX new beyond "clean layout" (Always a worthwhile endeavor in information graphics, but kinda expected too) The only innovation in overall UX looks like a rip-off of the iPhone, sorry. Also: I love white backgrounds... but I wonder what is easier on the eyes for people hunting for numbers all day long. I am sure someone has done the research. Right?

thehappycorp's over-the-top solution though... Has a few interesting visualizations: I like the intuitive premise behind "Market Lava Lamp", the playful UI of "Stay in Touch" and the CNET-like "News Maps"... The "Weeeeeh" and the "Terminal Health" modules are just silly eye candy. They will not go past the demo (I hope).

Now, if thehappycorp can achieve the same interesting visual info interpretations of information without all the bulky glossiness... Data density is suffering big time! Feels like a pro trader may find the waste of real state a reason to reminisce the old layout.

Final wish: If they could just blend the beauty of IDEO with the imagination of thehappycorp!

Sat 21 Jul 2007 at 9:20 AM

Hey guys, I am loving all the feedback.

the challenge was communicating the new ideas on one screen. I tried to deliver "idea meat", as apposed to design slickness. There is only so much you can do in 1.5 days.

What doesn't come through on the Portfolio.com site, is the overarching idea that I wanted to add the users life into the Bloomberg Terminal, by adding richer community, Food and health tools, and spirited competition with the golf game, that would adjust the players handicap based on the previous days Trading performance.

I wish I had more time to flesh the Market Lava lamp, I idea of the movement and volume change being a passive indicator of market trends got me excited, but I needed more time to develop it for sure. I thinks less stocks would have helped.

The purpose of the Wii Controller, was more to give the guy sitting in his chair all day a reason to get up for his turn at golf.

The blending of life and work fascinates me, and I thought my suggestions might make finance professionals a little more jubilant.

Tue 24 Jul 2007 at 5:23 AM

I applaud anything that's intended to make finance professionals more jubilant!

Wed 25 Jul 2007 at 3:25 AM

Did you see this visualization of CEO salaries compared to average worker over time?


Simple, but really gets the point across.

Wed 25 Jul 2007 at 5:35 AM
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