Designing Axioma’s digital products from the ground up.
Portfolio analysis is highly technical—but it doesn’t have to be hard
Axioma is a global financial software company. Their core product, Portfolio Management, is a series of proprietary algorithms which are plugged into investment banks’ systems.
For example, if a portfolio manger wants to get better insight into a set of technology stocks, they have to work with a quantitative analyst to run a bunch of test-cases, wait about a day to get the perfect test, and ultimately hope that it is the best solution for the client.
Portfolio managers have no way of running these tests on their own, and experiment with portfolios. My mission was to bring the power back into the hands of portfolio managers, and to help them solve problems for their clients.
I was the design lead for Portfolio Analyzer. The team included a visual designer, product strategist, and a project manager.
Power to the portfolio manager
I led research with portfolio managers across the globe to understand that there are many inputs that portfolio managers consider when constructing a portfolio, and experimentation is a key factor in portfolio analysis. With this understanding, I defined a framework for portfolio managers:
A portfolio manager should be able to bring together portfolio, constraint and analytics data, and receive multiple portfolio variations
Compliance and regulation problems must be caught early, and be easily corrected directly within the platform
Axioma must be embedded into the day-to-day portfolio management workflow with a seamless interface
Solving the portfolio manager’s needs
Axioma has been building industry-standard software and algorithms for over 18 years. The Portfolio Analyzer tool is the first product to be designed with a user-facing front end. We needed to make sure the product we design can scale across all of Axioma’s product offerings, and build interaction patterns from the ground up.
Humanizing Axioma’s products meant using natural language descriptions of user actions. Above are two examples of how I took complex rules and portfolio results, and transformed them into easily-digestible sentences. This created a positive feedback loop, ensuring that users were getting what they expected out of the system.
Bringing simplicity to a complex process
In order to build a simple, unified experience, my team and I needed to wrap our heads around understanding the landscape of portfolio analysis. Some of the research activities I spearheaded included:
Axioma stakeholder workshops
Contextual research with users across the USA and Sweden
Rapid sketching and prototyping
User journeys and storyboards
Persona creation and validation
Qualitative and quantitative surveys with varied user types
From the research with portfolio managers, I created a set of personas, reflecting the different types of personalities, experiences, and needs of our potential users.
Since my team and I embarked on this journey to build a user-centered product for Axioma, we had to create a unified, usable UI which best represented the brand. We decided to use style tiles, a set of components which give the client an idea of the look and feel for two different design directions.
We looked to the design principles mentioned in the kick-off with Axioma, such as “Airy white space”. As a starting point, we worked closely within the current website guidelines and take references from existing materials.
We looked to retain the base foundations of the Axioma brand and also introduce relevant styles and characteristics to the application. This allowed us to push the current material forward and further the branding. We reinforced this direction using results of the previous collaborative design workshops run with the team.
These style tiles helped inform our work moving forward with bringing Axioma’s brand into the product.
Axioma Portfolio Analyzer represents an end-to-end process of understanding a problem through research, playing back the understanding and building alignment, and then building a product from this solid foundation to meet human needs.
The focus on human-centered problems, combined with Axioma’s business strategy, led to a sea-change in design thinking in Axioma, which was used to inform work across many more products within the busienss. This is the type of work I love to do, and if this is the type of work which interests you, please reach out and say hello.