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TPR 5/14/21: How Robin Hood made stock trading alluring

TPR 5/14/21: How Robin Hood made stock trading alluring
By Mark Tosczak • Issue #16 • View online
2-minute read
TGIF. Today we look at a headline-grabbing app’s design choices — UX considerations that some critics say made it too alluring for its users.
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How Robin Hood made stock trading alluring
The Robin Hood app is designed to make stock trading more alluring and exciting — like playing a game or posting to social media.
This Bloomberg Businessweek article breaks down the features and UX choices that, some critics say, have made stock trading too addictive.
Other experts also see the Robinhood app exerting an unusual pull. “It’s a different technology of high stimulation and high distractibility,” says Brett Steenbarger, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. “With the traditional brokers, you haven’t had that.” 
A few of the key features of Robin Hood’s stimulating design:
  • Animations that celebrate a user’s first trade
  • A single free share of stock after you sign up
  • Simple, clutter-free design and brightly colored buttons
  • Few choices — no retirement accounts or other options to complicate the process of transferring funds to Robin Hood
  • The ability to buy fractions of a share
The Robin Hood team sought out feedback from their target audience — young people — as they were developing the app.
Some of Robinhood’s earliest employees would go to coffee shops at Stanford, show mock-ups or early prototypes to college students, and gauge how they reacted, according to a former employee as well as Bhatt in an interview with the news site Marker. They’d make tweaks based on the responses.
In fairness, Robin Hood says only about 2% of its users are day traders. The lessons in Robin Hood’s design are useful for anyone building an app, designing a website or developing a product.
Upcoming issues:
  • When do euphemisms and doublespeak work?
  • How to sell more plant-based burgers
  • What’s gone wrong with text messaging to change college student behavior
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Mark Tosczak

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