kraken.com Trading UI Refresh

what we did
An internal challenge - our founder used the exchange and inspired the team to design a refreshed UI
what we achieved
A fresh looking UI for a technical-minded target group

what is kraken?

kraken.com provides a platform for cryptocurrency trading. A user can exchange fiat for cryptocurrencies for about a dozen currencies.

our internal challenge

Our founder, Andree, has used the exchange in the past. He felt that it would be a good internal challenge for 1-2 days of work. The idea was to come up with a refreshing UI that would consider the current structure or conventions used. Further, we wanted to not alienate the core user base with a random new UI style that feels distant, unconventional nor not approachable.

the challenge from a design perspective

From a plain UI design perspective, it becomes clear that kraken either wants to appeal to a very technically minded target group or that kraken does not care about stellar and modern UI design. We feel that it is a mixture of both.

Summary of what we wanted to achieve (in 12 hours):

  • Do not alienate users with a complete new UI structure nor aesthetic
  • Reduce complexity and improve the navigation pattern
  • Reduce visual complexity (e.g. lists)
  • Maintain a technical look but at the same time improve it's appeal among non-technically minded users

a complicated navigation pattern

The current UI has a confusing navigational hierarchy.

  • Three items in the main header (A)
  • A profile dropdown menu at the top right (B)
  • A bar (C) through the user can selected a currency for trading and it shows the respective trading data
  • A second navigation bar (D) which shows almost the same items that the menu at the top right contains
  • A third navigation bar (E) which shows second-level items related to navigation bar D

The current UI on kraken.com Current UI on kraken.com

A fresh looking UI for a very technical user touchpoint Our redesigned version

It feels a bit like everything is in plain sight, on purpose. The screenshot above shows a typical browser window width of 1366x768. Why 1366? The screen resolution statistics by W3Schools.com from January 2018 shows that 1366x768 is the most common display.

768 is the height of the display. Alas, the browser viewport height is smaller due to elements like browser nav bars. What we have seen from experience is that on average the available height for a website is about 640px. In the kraken UI, 39% of the available height in the browser is occupied by navigational elements. That is a lot of space for navigation to occupy only.

We wanted to maintain the structure in a way that a user is not put off but knows her way around the UI immediately. In order to achieve this, we had to reduce the nav elements but maintain a similar information architecture.

We restructured the level D and E and created a panel on the left for the most important pages/sections: Trade, Funding and History. The reasons for using a left column for the main nav is the aspect ratio of modern display. Due to its 16:9 nature, height is very expensive and therefore valuable. Based on the common sense of the team, we separate the subsections of the UI into 3 main sections and placed them in the left column.

Another small issue that each and every user will encounter is a Back buttons that appears on the right hand side. In the available time we set ourselves, we did not go into such details as it would have required to have a deep look at the navigation hierarchy across the entire app.

The result is a simplified nav structure that allows the main content to move up. This will result in better scanning of the UI and less up and down scrolling for the user.

a very technical looking UI

A user-friendly UI design is still very rare in the cryptocurrency space (for various reasons). Currency trading is not for everyone nor does a majority of people engage in such activities. For even a niche in a market, a user-friendly UI does go a long way.

We are not fully sure what the main reasons for the very technical appeal of the UI is. The iOS app of kraken appears to be even more complicated than the website.

The current UI on kraken.com Current UI on kraken.com

A fresh looking UI for a very technical user touchpoint Our redesigned version

lists everywhere

The kraken UI is defined by numbers everywhere. It has a list for currencies used and their current price, a list of ones own balance, a list that shows the ledger for the account, a list for trade balances, a list of open and closed orders, a list for open and closed positions, and a list of all trades.

The biggest question that a non-expert trader will likely ask themselves is, that is the difference of some of those lists? What is the difference between orders and positions? What is the difference between all trades and the ledger?

There are probably valid answers to these questions above. But the questions centers around how often the user would want to view or review such lists.

Now, since the challenge was time constrained, we did on purpose not aim to solve the list problem. What we did though is to give the list elements is less technical, number-driven aesthetic. See for yourself what you think.

The current UI on kraken.com Current UI on kraken.com

A fresh looking UI for a very technical user touchpoint Our redesigned version (not a UI design for the screen above)


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