The Financial Times Group and Nikkei Inc. jointly operate the corporate data and news service called scoutAsia. A scoutAsia subscription can provide real-time data, news, and context on over 800,000 companies in more than 20 East Asian, South Asian, and ASEAN countries. Through its databases, subscribers can create comprehensive corporate profiles, gain context and insights, and keep up with relevant companies.
All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Financial Times
To deliver a simplified and beautified data-visualisation product called scoutAsia. The product uses news, data and machine learning to reveal insights and speed up investor research. It is aimed at a wide variety of users, including M&A bankers, corporate strategy teams, salespeople, and compliance officers.
Team & Role
I joined this project in its early stages to co-direct the visual design by creating a design language and coming up with a solid design system to bridge the gap between development and design. The team consisted of 1 Product Owner, 1 Product Manager, 1 UX Designer and 4 Full-stack developers and 1 Tester, and it was split into 2 locations: London and Tokyo.
The project began over a series of meetings to discuss roadmap assumptions, how success would be measured and business objectives. During the week, we met with key stakeholders from London and Tokyo to explore:
- Customer Segments & Personas: Their demographics, backgrounds and motivations.
- Our Design Thinking process and tools to collaborate and work with Developers and Product owners.
We interviewed 11 senior team members to answer key questions:
- Who will use ScoutAsia?
- What they will use the tool for?
- What are the different use cases for this user?
After digesting the learnings from the stakeholder’s interview, we created two proto-persona describing the target users and audience of ScoutAsia based on the assumptions of our stakeholders. Creating these two proto-personas allowed our product team to build a shared understanding of our potential users and to begin designing and building immediately without getting overly bogged down with the details of user behaviour.
By creating these two proto-personas, we also had a better understanding of the users we should recruit for user research and usability testing. We identified the following key themes and differences for our personas:
- Comprehensive data
- Deep dive
- Task completion
- Impossible deadlines
- Timely explanations
- Compiling detail
- Steers and hunches
- Macro view/big picture
- Forming a strategy
- Setting timelines
- First to know
Empathising with our end users
The team travelled to Tokyo, Japan in order to engage with stakeholders from Nikkei. We took the opportunity to facilitate 1:1 sessions with potential customers in Asia. Common patterns learned from the interviews provided strong rationale towards design choices on tools like the “Connections Map”, “Company Search” and “Targets List”.
A common usage scenario learned from the interviews was that most customers would likely be in a rush or commuting in a train most of the time while checking for relevant news about companies they follow and discovering new companies mentioned in the news. They would feel more comfortable using a desktop to perform advanced tasks, like accessing a company’s connections map and a company’s market comparison chart.
Design, Test, Ideate
After establishing a strong understanding of the customer base, features and business objectives, we began to build the experience and the design process started. My personal deliverables were the Design Language followed by “Company Search” and “Targets List”. The iterations of the design concept can be found below.
Interviewing potential customers and data scientists from our team while conducting competitive research on data-visualisation products helped us to organise complex data best practices. The learnings led us to our design concept, scenarios, and mockups.
Prioritising System Parts
Working closely with our in-house development team, we set the goal for v1.0 of the design system to build the foundation by creating a compressive, scalable visual language and building atomic components most often reused and combined to make user experiences. Our emphasis in this process was to emphasize displays and data collection through normalization of form controls and standardized UX patterns and best practices.
ScoutAsia consolidates data from companies into one central location. It allows customers to:
- Visualise news from companies of interest
- Visualise complex connections map
- Save companies to a custom target list and receive news and notifications
- View and download standard reports and charts
The beta product was launched in Q1 2018 and is iterating through a series of interviews and usability testing with end-users in Asia.