UX is crucial in Crypto End User Adoption
The user experience (UX), in crypto products, is often poor because there isn’t enough investment.
Most investment goes into cryptography, technical research and backend engine engineering. Front ends for blockchain-based applications often are “just enough” to get the job done.
This observation is important because it is our concern about the adoption of crypto-based apps by end users. The UX of an application’s application greatly influences the long-term adoption. After spending considerable time developing Web2 products, I believe this.
The Enhancement of UX through Web 2.0
It was around 2010, when I met someone from Google’s UX research team. This was the pivotal moment in my life.
Until that point, I thought of releases as features. What features will be shipped with this release? The end-user pieces were referred to as the “user interface” or “frontend.” Only features that had to be shipped.
The process they went through to ship Android releases was described by a Google UX researcher. Their process included a large UX component.
UX research and testing involved bringing random people onto the streets, giving them pre-configured Android phones, and recording video and timing data as the subjects completed various tasks. They would ask people to “schedule an appointment” and “call this number.” Next, they would record data about the subjects’ taps, their time spent completing the tasks, and what mistakes they made.
The team would then analyze the data, iterate on the UX, move buttons, make things more prominent, and then run the tests again with another set of people to compare the data sets. This was only one aspect of their UX research.
When I saw the amount of effort Google put into its products’ UX and usability, I was completely amazed. Google and Apple have dominated the mobile market because of their focus on great UX.
Advanced UX techniques such as the one mentioned above are common in the Web2 world. There are often separate design and UX research groups within an organization.
One thing that struck me when I moved from the Web2 space to the Web3 space was the fact that many blockchain projects lack UX and design functions. People with backgrounds in economics, finance, and software engineering naturally gravitate towards cryptocurrency. This results in heavy weighting in teams that are made up of people from these backgrounds. One reason that crypto has faced difficulties in gaining adoption is the relative underrepresentation in UX and design backgrounds.
UX can be used to reduce the learning curve
It’s not hard to see that crypto has many concepts you need to understand in order to use many products. You will need to know concepts such as accounts, public keys and private keys, signing, block heights, finalization, and many others.
However, learning new concepts can be a barrier to adoption. End users will still learn new concepts and mental models if they are clear and motivated.
The concept of operating system concepts such as files, folders and processes was once new. These concepts and their graphical representations were intentionally chosen to be a replica of real-world concepts and to help people onboard and create the right mental models to work with computers as they became more common.
This example shows real-world mimicry in action. It is a screenshot from the original iPad note-taking app.
Image sourced from this blog: https://uxdesign.cc/mental-models-in-ux-design-in-examples-f75b083cd487
It is both completely unnecessary and intentional that the physical legal pad has some resemblance. It aids the user to create the right mental model.
Things like URLs, HTTP, FTP and IP addresses were exposed directly to end-users in the early days. These were easy for non-technical users to learn to use, despite their rough edges. A poor UX is not due to conceptual complexity. Clear concepts and the right motivation for users to want them to learn them are key.
Web3 World: Introducing UX
No matter what product it is, better UX will improve end user adoption. We will only improve our UX if more people have UX and design expertise. If we want to build products that are user-facing, then these skills should be valued as much as those who work as backend engineers.
You don’t have to do much at first. Use existing resources to improve UX for crypto. To improve your product, you can engage a freelance UX designer. It is better to have them as part of the product’s development process, rather than having them “make it look pretty”. Many of the user flows and concepts have been established by this point and are hard to change.
One of the most important lessons from the past 10 years of Web2 is the importance of UX in software adoption. I hope Web3 builders will not have to relearn this and instead incorporate design and UX into their products as first-class investments and teams.