Project 1: Identifying Communication Design

Effective Communication Design

Home page of Robinhood

The Robinhood iOS application is an example of effective communication design. Robinhood is a free stock trading application with no brokerage fees or minimum deposits. It is targeted towards investors of all backgrounds including experienced investors with hundreds of thousands of dollars of capital and first time investors who may be uncomfortable with the per trade commissions of other broker-dealers. The goal of the design is to quickly and clearly communicate the current status of the user’s portfolio so that they can make decisions about whether to buy or sell stocks. The app achieves this goal through its simplicity, use of colors to create emphasis, and use of space.

When the user first opens the application, they are greeted with a simple home page featuring the current value of their portfolio displayed in large black font and a line graph of this value over the past day. Immediately, the user knows exactly how they’re doing. This is emphasized by the accent color of the application, which is green if the portfolio is up for the day or red if it is down. Also, the background color of the application changes to white when the market is open and to black when the market closes. This quickly lets users know when their trade orders would be executed if they were made now. The amount of space dedicated to the graph leaves no room for unnecessary clutter and provides greater granularity for graph, so that users can better understand the volatility of today’s market.

Prices and mini graphs of the user’s portfolio and stock watchlist.

Scrolling down, there is a list of stocks. Each row contains the ticker number, the 1-day line graph, and the current prices of the stocks that the user owns and has on their watchlist. This section is equally simple and demonstrates unity with the design of the overview section by sharing the same accent colors and conservative use of space. With this more granular overview of their portfolio, users can make decisions about buying or selling individual shares.

Overall, the communication design in this application works together well to convey a simple message: should you buy or should you sell.

Ineffective Communication Design

Poster advertising Music For Non-Majors in the Cohon University Center

This poster hanging in the Cohon University Center advertising the Music For Non-Majors program is an example of ineffective communication design. Its target audience is non-music majors at Carnegie Mellon University interested in taking music lessons walking around campus and its goal is to make these students aware of the Music For Non-Majors program and sign up. The poster’s design fails to achieve this goal because of poor color choice and spacing, use of images, and small font size.

Although the large white headline font on a black background grabs the attention of passersby, the rest of the poster fails to convert this to anything useful. The large image of a person playing piano used as a background contains a lot of white and bright colors. This does not contrast well with the white text on the right side that contains the most important information and makes it difficult to read. Someone would have to stop and walk up close to the poster to extract this information. Chances are, only a small fraction of passersby would do this despite there possibly being a larger fraction of people who would be interested. The background image could have been replaced by a smaller graphic that is universally understood to mean music on a solid background color that would have made the text easier to read. Additionally, the placement of text forces the users eye to move back and forth on the poster. There’s no clear progression of information and adds friction to actually reading the contents.

The elements of this poster fail to work together and ultimately do not do a good job of spreading awareness for the Music for Non-Majors program at Carnegie Mellon University.