Design principles for blockchain

Blockchain. Just the mention of it conjures up images of cryptography, mathematics, and nodes, the virtual money that makes transactions happen seamlessly, instantaneously, and securely. But what does all this have in common with design? In order to design for blockchain, you'll first need to understand the principles on which it is built. And here, we summarize four key blockchain design principles to follow.

What is blockchain?

To design for blockchain, you need to understand what blockchain is. Blockchain is the technology that allows cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, to exist. At its core, it is a distributed ledger where transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly. Each transaction is verified cryptographically by nodes on the network and then stored on a block of data that is hard to tamper with.

Although Bitcoin and Ethereum use blockchain technology differently, they share some similarities. The most considerable similarity is that blockchain is decentralized. It doesn't rely on any central authority for storing information about transactions. The blockchain network consists of connected computers that receive copies of the blockchain and validate transactions to maintain the ledger's integrity. This eliminates the possibility of a single point of failure, and no single entity can change or control the system.

Bitcoin uses blockchain technology most often, and that's how you've probably heard the buzzword. But the technology can be used for anything from financial transactions to medical records and anything in between. One cannot change the data stored on the blockchain; hence, the name blockchain.

The other side to blockchain technology other than it enables cryptocurrency is its capabilities to facilitate decentralization.

Decentralization in the blockchain redistributes decision-making processes away from a central location or authority. Decentralization improves efficiency and effectiveness by eliminating unnecessary parts of an organization, reducing redundancy, and avoiding single points of failure. In decentralized networks, members are supposed to act autonomously without requiring permission from the centralized grid.

When thinking of a technological arrangement, three essential network structures are commonly used: centralized, decentralized, and disseminated. While blockchain technologies frequently utilize decentralized networks, a blockchain application can be either decentralized or not. So decentralization should go up the grid and be applied not only on the technical but also on the administrative level.

So, keeping design principles in mind is essential when working on a project that enables decentralization.

Blockchain Design Principles to Follow

Fintech Apps design and development has been rapidly gaining traction. Here, we're listing our three blockchain design principles you should follow. We've narrowed it down to just three because designing for blockchain and crypto projects is not about following the guide, but more about understanding the technology, its target audience and the future blockchain brings.

1. Human-Centered Design

The most significant thing about blockchain is that people have to trust it. To attain this trust, blockchain must be designed so that everyone understands it. So, one of the most important components of blockchain design is how easily accessible it will be for humans. One way to do this is by providing simple interfaces which are intuitive for users, who may not be very tech-savvy.

2. Designing for Trust

Designing for the blockchain means designing with the intention of building an application or a service that can be trusted, immutable, and (almost) fully transparent to all users and stakeholders. Handling sensitive information is at the core of blockchain. So, maintaining trust with the user regarding that information is essential. Part of that trust flows into platform reliability and stability. Listen to feedback and stay consistent with your product to ensure your design and product maintains trustworthiness among users.

3. Simplicity at the Core

Make your application as simple and easy to use as possible. Blockchain creates an almost endless stream of data and information, so keeping your interface simple will make it easier for people. This also helps diminish entrance barriers to your platform. The less a user has to figure out, the easier it is to start using.

With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind when designing for blockchain while keeping it simple.

  • Security – Users should be able to enter login credentials (whether that be a strong password or biometrics) seamlessly, even with 2FA. Moreso, every page, file, and transaction needs to promote a sense of security while keeping the design as simple and navigable as possible. Security should also not be equivalent to friction. You want a platform that feels secure and seamless in every experience.
  • Privacy – Sensitive information requires a level of privacy. Users also want privacy surrounding their identities, not just what they do on your platform. Pseudonyms and private keys are two pillars of blockchain tech that should be implemented no matter what your product handles.
  • Transparency – Finalizing a blockchain transaction takes time, but we rarely know precisely how much time is due to network usage. Because the data is sensitive, users deserve to know about their own transactions. Design with transparency in mind and keep your users informed. A transparent governance model is also essential to help users understand how your product works and varies from your competitors.
  • Consistency – Create a single design language and stick with it as much as possible. It helps users navigate your product easily, identify where they are at any given time, and recognize what actions they can take next. Your blockchain project will be more successful if it has a clean and uncluttered interface that follows a consistent design language throughout.

Blockchain Design Examples

Designing for blockchain websites can take a variety of pathways forward, depending on what you want to emphasize.

Modern

Modern designs like two-toned color schemes, bold text, and simple graphics are popular for a reason. They're not only readable, but they also tell users that this product is built for today.

Noviscient by Merge Development
Investment Management platform by Merge Development

Classic

Think of traditional banks or newspapers. The fonts used, colors, patterns, and wording speak towards security. If you want to emphasize privacy and security without focusing too much on futurism, take some cues from these tried-and-true design approaches.

Token Place by Merge Development
Multi-Exchange Trading Terminal by Merge Development

Futuristic

Flashy neon graphics and text on a black background, or electric roadways made of colorful wires come to mind. Designing with the future in mind always takes a step out of the comfort zone of traditionalism. If your target audience is up for taking the chance and being an early adopter or pioneer, this is the approach for you.

Fund Platform by Merge Development
Fund Platform by Merge Development

Follow These Blockchain Design Principles for Success

The principles to follow and techniques to use while designing for blockchain differ entirely from a digital design. This is why you need to develop a thorough understanding of how blockchain works before you begin designing your application or platform.

Blockchain is all about decentralization, transparency, and authenticity. Using the design principles from this blog post will help you create the best digital product that uses blockchain technology as its core.

Sergey Gyluyk

Head of Growth

Head of Growth and Customer Success. I'm interested in design, new tech, fashion, exploring new places and languages. My mission is to make our clients happy.

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