Why Blockchain applications need better design.


From a design point of view, new consumers need a no-frills interface. The UI has to look nice and flow well but if a consumer is using a service like a crypto wallet, it should be streamlined. Most consumers don’t know how Bluetooth works. All they know is they have to push a button to pair their device. For a virtual wallet company to succeed, end users should be limited to what they see when first opening the application. The send/receive money buttons and recent transactions are important parts of a virtual wallet GUI, customers don’t necessarily care about other options. David Atchley points out that “[A] product’s value to your customers is not the blockchain, but rather the pain-point it solves or the pleasure it brings to some aspect, task or endeavor in your customers’ lives.”

Getting the most out of a cryptocurrency is a lot of work. If you held Bitcoin since its inception and wanted to take advantage of all of the free forked currency, you would have to keep track of your transactions & private keys and developer announcements. You may also have to move your money to a different wallet or exchange that supported each fork. In some cases, it may be easy to miss the news of a fork and therefore miss out on reaping benefits. Moreover, consumers should be able to back up their crypto wallets with a single button and a simple password. Technology like the Trezor or the Ledger Nano S are lowering the bar for entry and safekeeping of multiple cryptocurrencies. One disadvantage is getting the analog generation to understand, trust, and use these new gadgets with tiny screens and few buttons. Users holding bitcoin in a wallet expect to receive all forked currency and have the currency properly and immediately allocated, ready for use. If nuances like these are not buttoned up, it’s almost idiotic for the general public to switch from their current banking system that makes sending money easy.

Current crypto products are too cumbersome to operate.

The crypto services offered to the public have too many technicalities that drive away average users. In the case of mobile wallets, as mentioned above, one may have to move their money around and stay abreast of news to take advantage of forks. Sometimes, without swift action, you may lose the whole value of your portfolio. Take EOS for instance. Your original EOS can be worthless if you don’t register your tokens by June 1st, 2018.

Another great example is Crypto Kitties. Crypto Kitties is an interesting game where users can breed, sell, and buy virtual collectible cats on the ethereum blockchain. This is the type of user interface that will help to drive mass adoption of blockchain technology. The one caveat was the ethereum blockchain couldn’t handle the massive influx of transactions. The breeding of virtual kitties on ethereum increased seven-fold in a matter of days. New users were happy to use a polished interface on top of a blockchain but they quickly left as problems started to arise.

There needs to be a product development upheaval to attract the public.

Currently, good UI is an afterthought to the code produced by programmers. Developers the open source crypto-communities are calling the shots. Not often do blockchain development teams have members specifically focused on visual design and customer experience. Programmers are often creating interfaces that make sense to them and the interface changes along the way to satisfy the needs of its users. Bittrex is a good example of an exchange with progressive interface updates. The most recent UI change has been met with equal hatred and praise on Bitcointalk, Reddit, and other notable communities. Some traders admitted to switching exchanges due to complications. These are not just problems for developers but project managers and product designers as well. Crypto exchanges aren’t the only applications that can benefit from a merging of these three departments to create good products.

Closing Thoughts

It is almost prime time for mass blockchain adoption. The key to gaining the interest of the mass population is to take the guesswork out of moving currency, sending contracts, and playing games on the blockchain. With cryptocurrency being the most popular application, every enticing aspect of the process must be streamlined for consumers. Beautiful UI with logical UX make for an easy and enjoyable experience. Most programs are just scratching the surface as far as marrying design with code to make a polished product. Development teams can benefit greatly from in-house designers and UI focus groups. One can argue scaling is another issue that needs to be addressed before mass adoption can happen. Although that may be true, in the case of Crypto Kitties, UI brought customers to the platform and scaling issues made them leave. Therefore, better UI is the invitation that new-comers are looking for.

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