The Community Of Over 578,000

Home ›› Product design ›› The Impossible Bloomberg Makeover

The Impossible Bloomberg Makeover

by Dominique Leca
Share this post on
Share on twitter
Tweet
Share on linkedin
Share
Share on facebook
Post
Share on reddit
Share
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Save

As a matter of pride, some users prefer a UI to be obtuse an ugly.

Redesigning the Bloomberg Terminal would be any interface designer’s dream. There’s obviously much room for improvement since the interface hasn’t changed for a long time, and the personas using it are quite easy to define.

But the complexity and richness of the displayed data, the necessity to fully understand how traders use the tool, and the immediate impact on the work efficiency of more than 156,000 users around the world make it tremendously challenging to make any changes.

Here is a picture of the Bloomberg Terminal as it stands today (2010). As most users say, “it’s hideous.”

The current Bloomberg UI

Here is the Bloomberg keyboard:

The Bloomberg keyboard

IDEO has submitted a redesign proposal back in 2007 after a 3-week study. Here’s how it looks:

IDEO concept design

A widget allows you to zoom in on some detailed part of IDEO’s design and have some explanation on the choices they’ve made. You can also read a short description of the project on their website.

But as a PortFolio.com article clearly puts it: “Bloomberg isn’t looking to do a major overhaul of its terminals’ graphic design anytime soon. In fact, company executives see the Bloomberg terminal’s unique presentation as a status symbol and a selling point. ‘We have to be religiously consistent’ to satisfy users who become attached to terminal’s look and feel, says Bloomberg chief executive Lex Fenwick. ‘You can see a Bloomberg from a mile away.'”

The Bloomberg terminal is the perfect example of a lock-in effect reinforced by the powerful conservative tendencies of the financial ecosystem and its permanent need to fake complexity.

Simplifying the interface of the terminal would not be accepted by most users because, as ethnographic studies show, they take pride on manipulating Bloomberg’s current “complex” interface. The pain inflicted by blatant UI flaws such as black background color and yellow and orange text is strangely transformed into the rewarding experience of feeling and looking like a hard-core professional.

The more painful the UI is, the more satisfied these users are.

The Bloomberg Terminal interface looks terrible, but it allows traders and other users to pretend you need to be experienced and knowledgeable to use it. Having been a user of the Bloomberg Terminal for five months, it took me a week and a few painful hours to handle it, and I am no genius. The only real impediments were the unbearable UI, remembering which key to push to make the “magic” work, and having to go through the 86-page manual.

Bloomberg’s terminal interface will not evolve any time soon both because of the leadership Bloomberg has on the market and because users will not be satisfied with something simpler and more efficient.

Bloomberg is an extreme case of a common UI phenomenon where users take pride and find highly rewarding to handle a painful interface. Obtuse UIs are generally only accepted by early adopters of brand new or highly innovative services. Most of the time, the success of the service and the growth of its user base makes it both necessary and natural to redesign the UI. But despite the fact that Bloomberg is a market leader and has a large user base, this pattern of UI evolution hasn’t come to pass.

The only valid reason explaining why the Bloomberg design will not change is the behavior of its users. Users who favor complexity and clutter over efficiency and clarity to sustain a fictive status symbol.

post authorDominique Leca

Dominique Leca, Dominique Leca is a 25-year old entrepreneur based in Paris, France. He co-founded a company specialized in iPhone application development in early 2008. As Publishing Manager there, he designed: allRadio 2, Geomaster, EarthSecrets and Fracture. He collaborated on many iPhone application projects for major French companies and brand Dominique graduated from the HEC Business School in 2008, and had prior experiences in finance and advertisement. He blogs at dominiqueleca.com and can always be reached via Twitter @domleca.

Share on twitter
Tweet
Share on linkedin
Share
Share on facebook
Post
Share on reddit
Share
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Related Articles

The road to a good customer experience can be full of potholes. How do you navigate such a treacherous path? One key way is through product thinking.

What is product thinking and why does it matter?
  • Product thinking is key to shaping the best customer experience possible as it helps to identify problems and solve them.
  • By providing a holistic perspective on a product it differs from design thinking and reveals the real product value for customers.
  • Because of its strategic importance, every team member should hone product thinking skills. It’s more than a working framework, it’s a mindset, a culture of customer experience.
Share:What is product thinking and why does it matter?

“Holistic design” sounds like a new flashy trend that’s used without a real meaning behind it. However, the term was present long before UX design was born. Nowadays, when we use “product design” for digital products and “industrial design” for things, “holistic design” makes a comeback to UX design.

What Is Holistic Design? The Future of UX or a Buzzword?
  • To apply holistic design principles is to consider different facets of a product, stakeholders’ interests and the environment within which it functions.
  • Best practices of holistic design consist of involving stakeholders, being sustainable, creating an ecosystem, and, last but not least, going beyond digital.
  • When it comes to holistic design in UX, it’s essential to apply design thinking and reflect on the design system, make sure that solutions are inclusive and consistently invest in UX research.
Share:What Is Holistic Design? The Future of UX or a Buzzword?
Frame 1 Holistic Design

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Check our privacy policy and