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How Bad UX Can Take a Life

A bad encounter when dealing with money online can be really stressful. From tracking your spending and investments to creating a budget for the month, surely you can relate.

But what happens when one of these situations impacts your lives or those of your families and loved ones? Naturally, you’d think that for anyone, a bad UX would mean only a few moments of being annoyed. However, a bad UX can harm and even kill you.

As technology is making its way into every aspect of our lives, a bad UX design could pose a greater threat to the future. It’s vital to understand the role that emotions play when it comes to money in order to create a life-saving financial design.

The Robinhood Story



Robinhood logo on app and banner behind

Alexander E. Kearns, a 20-year-old Nebraska college student, took his life on June 12, 2020, after misinterpreting the interface of, the millennial-focused stock trading app, Robinhood, which stated he had a negative cash balance of $730,165.


Screenshot from Bill Brewster Twitter account @BillBrewsterTBB, June 17, 2020

Screenshot from Bill Brewster Twitter account @BillBrewsterTBB, June 17, 2020

This is obviously one of those situations that can create huge amounts of stress and turmoil in a person’s life.

In a comment to CNBC, Bill Brewster, a Sullimar Capital analyst related to the Kearns family, criticized the way Robinhood displays trade summary: “When you’re dealing with retail money and actively soliciting traders under 30 years old, errors like this are inexcusable and at the very least negligent.”

Alexander Kearns left an online suicide note, “How was a 20-year-old with no income able to be allocated almost a million dollars worth of leverage?”


Screenshot from Bill Brewster Twitter account @BillBrewsterTBB, June 17, 2020

Screenshot from Bill Brewster Twitter account @BillBrewsterTBB, June 17, 2020

While the Robinhood app reported Kearns’ negative $730,165 cash balance in red, it was just a temporary amount that would be reversed once the stocks underlying his assignment options were deposited to his account.

But it seems that Kearns was unaware of such options trading intricacies. A simple pop-up with an explanation may have prevented the catastrophe.

Personal budgeting, money management, and financial trading are very sensitive issues that we don’t really prefer discussing with others. And the truth is that money has a significant influence on our lives. Even a slightly bad UX in financial user interfaces can have far-reaching repercussions. A well-designed user experience has the potential to save relationships, families, and even lives.

Taking the responsibility

To be effective, UX design must be completely focused on its users, their emotions, and psychology. It is critical to comprehend the significance, value, and influence that money has on people’s lives.

As a result, we sometimes don’t know how to respond or what to do in particular circumstances. Yes, we can be illogical sometimes and have emotions, but it is what distinguishes us as humans. It is natural and healthy, and we may learn from our errors in the past to find answers in the future.

Digital financial technologies may provide the logical assistance that humans’ irrational and emotional sides often lack.

It may assist individuals in making better judgments and taking financial responsibility and repercussions on their own so that they do not have to worry about it. A well-designed financial service, on a broader scale, improves, alters, and saves people’s lives.

And who knows, maybe the tragedy might have been prevented if the basic Robinhood design had been more user-centered from the perspective of inexperienced young consumers.

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A simple idea served as the foundation for Confetti Design Agency’s creation: create digital experiences that satisfy business goals while delighting customers. Worldwide, this approach has aided businesses in realizing their full potential, creating distinctive goods, and expanding. We’re not your typical ux agency. We collaborate as partners in ux design.

Confetti Design Studio is an award winning creative design firm based in India. We work with companies around the world by providing them premium design solutions ranging from product design, web design & graphic design. Contact us right now so we can get started on your amazing idea and project.

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