Bloomberg Terminal Concept for Portfolio Magazine

Envisioning the future and adoption of financial data delivery

The Bloomberg terminal is a staple in any financial institution, providing real-time data about pricing, analytics, and print and multimedia news across a number of financial markets. Despite an estimated 75,000 machines in use worldwide—including one in the Vatican—users find the aesthetic is dated and the interface synonymous with MS-DOS.

Conde Nast’s Portfolio magazine asked IDEO to address the aging Bloomberg terminal and create a speculative and disruptive new interface design. Drawing from expert users and insights gathered over years of ethnographic research in the financial services and computing industries, IDEO set out to create a simple and pragmatic design that avoided being overly fanciful or appearing dumbed-down. To enable ready adoption of such an interface, IDEO minimized complexity to avoid the inherent switching costs of changing to a new interface. At the same time, the design also incorporated certain “badge of honor” elements inspired by expert users of the previous system.

Working with a three-week deadline, IDEO created an interface that presents information in a logical progression, with news and data displayed left to right in order of increasing specificity. As users dig deeper, more cascading information panes are added to the right of the screen that can be moved using a touchpad. In response to traders’ behavior and their pride in navigating the complex terminals, IDEO proposed a gaming-inspired system that would track and display the expertise of users around the world.

The physical design features an electronic notepad that is reused like a virtual Post-it. A peripheral device—the conceptual Bloomberg Wherever—allows users to take a small-scale Bloomberg terminal device beyond their desks. A customizable keyboard annotates keys so shortcut destinations are clear and accessible. Dual screens act as one continuous information palette, offering an alternative to the mazelike navigations current terminals require. A white background was chosen to prevent eye fatigue.

Project date: 2007