The Client

The National Futures Association (NFA) is the only self regulatory, industry wide organization for the U.S. derivatives industry. It is responsible for monitoring the integrity of the derivatives market, protecting investors, and meeting regulatory responsibilities.

The Challenge

NFA’s ever expanding organization portfolio needed an updated search tool to allow individuals and members to search their directory. With thousands of derivatives firms, the search tool needed to be easy to use, while displaying the most important information.

Whether it is an individual investor thinking about choosing a firm or an NFA member choosing a partner, the new search tool needed to be efficient and informative. In the past, users had struggled to access the exact company they were looking for and often waited endlessly for pages to load.

Discovery Workshop

We met with the NFA team to understand how they could better serve investors as well as potential members. The new search tool needed to reduce the amount of domain knowledge required for a user while providing them with more information faster. Below are some of the activities we performed in order to inform our designs:

  • Site Map Creation: Allowed us to get an understanding of the existing user experience flow and understand the current information hierarchy issues.
  • User Survey Review: Existing users provided a lot of valuable insights about the challenges they were having with the tool.
  • Internal Stakeholder Interviews: These interviews allowed us to hear how NFA employees interact with the search tool and brought to light some unique challenges.
  • Data Analytics Audit: We reviewed NFA’s analytics, which allowed us to make informed decisions with data and understand how users are using the tool.
  • “More About, Less About” Exercise: This exercise helped us align and set priorities with the NFA team on the product strategy.
  • Persona Analysis: The NFA team wanted to optimize the experience for investors. This allowed us to prioritize the design for investors using the tool.

Reason Behind the Design

Once we had a solid understanding of the product strategy, we started our design process by working closely with the NFA team to wireframe the initial user flows and establish a revised information hierarchy that would appeal to investors.

We focused on improving search and navigation. By implementing  autocomplete in the search, we allowed users to view the detail page faster. We also included a utility search bar within the internal pages for quick access to conduct additional searches.

For each design iteration we had both small and large group feedback sessions with the subject matter expert stakeholders to make sure we were addressing all the user’s needs. This allowed us to keep the design process agile.

Once the new user flows were complete, we leveraged NFA’s brand guidelines to apply visual design to the screens to create a seamless experience from the website to the search tool.

Custom Styleguide

We translated the new design mockups into a custom HTML/CSS based styleguide. The styleguide allowed developers to  integrate the new designs with their current website’s existing codebase. This sped up the development process by allowing developers to reuse new components without having to re-develop the existing site.

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