Robinhood: 5 Reasons the Stock Trading App has cracked Application Design

Robinhood grew to become pretty popular in the US, with notable investors like Intex and even celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto. After winning the 2015 Apple Design Awards, the free stock trading app that allows users to trade shares with $0 commission, really entered the spotlight in the design world. So here are 5 reasons a fin-tech app like Robinhood can win such a prestigious design award.

  • A simple, minimalist design

Robinhood’s design philosophy exemplifies minimalism. There are no jarring bars, pushy pop-ups or distracting elements to the UI. The navigation bar is transparent and only reveals a search button and hierarchy that expand upon clicking. Boxes and lines are rare, and only important buttons have any visual indicators. This reduces clutter and adds to the essence of the app, which is to make it simple for someone who has never done so before to trade stocks.

  • A vibrant colour palette, but not too many colours

Throughout your whole Robinhood experience you’ll barely find a page with more than three or four colours at a time, including text. Their signature mint green theme can be found everywhere from the splash screen to the depiction of every successful stock. Aside from that you see red, black, white and grey. The typography used is very well integrated with the colour scheme and does justice to the message towards simplicity. There’s not too much variety in the colours, but the ones used, blend in well together with the overall theme.

  • Using colours to tell stories

Robinhood has a simplistic black background for when the stock markets are closed, and a white background when markets are open. Swipe down, and you see your stocks with a graph showing how well they’re doing in the colour green or red, based on whether the price has fallen or increased.

Using colours isn’t just another way to convey information — it’s possibly the most alluring way to consciously point out a strong message to the user. Humans are visual creatures and there’s nothing like a robust visual indicator that purely states whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘calm’ or ‘tumultuous’, or even ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’. Keeping that in mind, you want to be sure that your colours communicate the right message as much as possible.

  • Intuitive functionality

The moment you enter the home screen you see a list of the stocks that you’ve been following, with a little graph that indicates how well the stock’s been doing. Simple enough, but the design elements here follow a simplistic structure that immediately leads you to where you want to go. So clicking a stock brings up its history and big ‘Buy’ and ‘Sell’ buttons that are coloured red or green depending on how it’s been doing.

The straightforwardness of this app’s functions can be compared with what Apple inherently does in iOS, and is a broader trend across all of Apple’s design philosophy. Even a two year old could get a hang of swiping through photos, articles or games on an iPad, and I’m sure if a two year old knew anything about the stock market (or could read, for that matter), they’d be able to figure out Robinhood as well.

  • Keeping it short and simple

“Keep it simple, stupid” was a phrase reportedly coined by aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson of Lockheed Skunkworks back in the 1960s. The design philosophy, which implies that systems perform best when having simple designs rather than complex ones, still holds true to this day. Robinhood manages to take something like stock trading, which requires setting up accounts, jumping through SEC and FINRA hoops, paying commission to a middleman and learning all the rules and manages to distil the complexity into an app that can do all this on the front page. Of course, apps themselves usually absolve the complexity just by its nature, but Robinhood just needs a few words and some icons to take pages of regulatory rules and make it accessible to users.

Upamanyu Acharya