UX at Bloomberg: A Conversation with Fahd Arshad

How does behavior influence product design when you’re customer base is a very particular audience?

We caught up with the head of the Bloomberg Terminal’s User Experience, Fahd Arshad, who describes the user experience (UX) as the emotion that’s invoked in a user’s mind as they’re dealing with a product.

According to Fahd, the UX covers utility, usability, and that intangible satisfaction in a product interacting the way you expect it to. “Without a strong design sense, without a design ethic, it’s really hard in this day and age for a product to be successful.”

“The terminal came to be in an era before the PC was, so to speak, ‘PC’. In the early 1980’s people didn’t want to be seen as keyboarding. That was not the kind of thing that financial power people did. So you would have an assistant who would go in and pull up information or type up a letter.”

The terminal was a disruptive technology; the Internet boom followed, and that changed everything. Personal computers, the Web, and eventually smart devices, phones and tablets became commonplace.

Users started expecting, not just functionality, but more intuitiveness from their experience with the terminal as well — more ease of use, more logical presentation of information. They wanted to search instead of browse categories. They expected sleek design, and interface catered to their needs — down to the level of color contrast.

The design ethos at Bloomberg under Arshad’s watch continues to be ‘The user isn’t me.’ This is why Bloomberg has a high-octane User Experience Lab. Arshad has said one reason why the lab exists is because designers can’t figure everything out – and this enables them to track user behavior so they can see what they get right, what they get wrong, and how to fix it.

“Bloomberg’s swift, independent entrepreneurialism may produce results for clients, but it only counts if they know how to access the info that’s created. Insights also allow reps’ conversations with their customers to be much more germane and thus valuable to both sides,” Fahd says.