The Communication Studio

Stock Trading Broker Tools

Instinet / on Staff

From 1994 to 1997 I was on staff as the Interface Designer for Instinet's Front End Design Team, which provided a central pool of design resources to software development groups throughout Instinet. The company had made an exceptional (for the financial industry) early investment in usability.

The Value Proposition

Our primary commitment was to the Order Management System (OMS), Instinet's flagship electronic online stock trading tool. We prototyped and tested new features using Visual Basic as our modeling tool, focusing on ease of use and enterprise-wide standardization.

And here we are at dinner in 1996 from left: Mike Daley (our Market Data and network structure expert), John Sutton (business wizard and team leader), me (interface design & documentation), Prashant Patel (Visual Basic guru).

Instinet's Front End Design Team

Online Trading Console

As the lead interaction designer, my focus was on compatibility, standards, human factors, ease of use and online help. Wrote Functional Requirements and developed the user interface for new functional modules: Setup Wizard, Crossing Services, Allocations, Strategy Panel, File Conversion, Order Entry


Provided a clickable site model (in Visual Basic) that conformed to the workflow and served as design guide for the development team.

Usability Testing

I championed usability testing and analysis at the Reuters Usability Lab where we pioneered usability testing within the enterprise.

Reuters established some of the first (to my knowledge) corporate usability labs in mid-90's. They also distributed a HUUUUge binder with voluminous & extensive usability arguments & guidelines. The challenge was to advocate & educate "UX" (though Iit wasn't called that at the time) across the enterprise.

  • The extensive info in the binder was valid, but overwhelming. It became shelf fodder.
  • One visit to a show 'n tell at the Usability Lab with the beta of our product did the trick with the developer team. They became advocates immediately.

The real life traction of seeing their program code in action was a revelation for the developers- and for those of us on the Front End Design Team, as well

Value added: This also cemented the working relationship between the Design Team and the Developers,.

Enterprise-wide Integration

I was also responsible for implementing desktop compliance with the Reuters RACE Specification. This was a platform standard which enabled drag & drop, right-click menu integration across multiple applications, both within Instinet and under the Reuters umbrella.

The next step, of course, was data-sharing.

Enterprise-wide Design Standards

My design evangelism resulted in an enterprise-wide commitment to usability. I was called upon to provide interaction design services, interface standards, data continuity and documentation to a number of other in-house software products. I identified business needs, designed working model prototypes in Visual Basic and wrote Design Guidelines Functional Specificationsfor applications on Instinet's Portal:

      • ADR Calculator
      • Trading Symbol Guide
      • Instinet Transaction Analysis (trading cost analysis tool)
      • Clearing History
      • Allocations
      • Crossing Services
      • Purchase & Sales
      • Soft Dollar
      • Installation Tracking
      • Customer Database & Client Tracking
      • Internal Billing System

Design Resource Center

To support these efforts I created enterprise-wide Design Resource Center online database in Lotus Notes, which provided a central repository for project information, design standards, and the sharing of code modules. The DRC was used by more than 50 designers and coders across the enterprise.

As a part of the enterprise-wide standards mandate, I also provided the UI/UX perspective to the Customer Database Reconciliation project. Instinet's customer information was employed by all of the applications listed above. At that early point in the process, the data was maintained separately, reundantly, and often incompatably and incorrectly by each of the software applications.

Our challenge was to collect, clarify and define a common customer database that could be shared by all: Data Warehousing.

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Corporate Intranet

In 1996 Instinet started an enterprise-wide intranet. I worked closely with internal clients to bring them up to speed on the new technology and migrate their legacy information to Web format.

  • Provided a clickable site model that conformed to the workflow and served as design guide for the development team.

By early 1997 I had designed and produced more than half of the content on of our intranet site.

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