The blockchain ecosystem is still in its infancy and is expected to exhibit tremendous growth in the next few years. The technology has already presented itself as a reliable payment network for crypto-currency projects. Still, there are many other areas where blockchain tech can be deployed, including building decentralized apps, creating smart contracts between vendors & buyers, creating voting systems, securing supply chain processes, and much more.
All of this is to say that blockchain is growing and becoming an integral part of many businesses worldwide. Some industries have seen nearly 800% YoY growth due to blockchain. With that level of adoption, user experience in blockchain needs to be at the forefront.
The Basics of User Experience Design in Blockchain
One of the biggest problems blockchain designers face is how to design a user experience that is simple and easy to use. Blockchain technology is still new. Designing the UX for blockchain applications is a challenge like no other because it is so radically different than traditional UX design.
How different is blockchain UX?
The challenge for a blockchain designer is to create an experience that makes sense to non-blockchain users while still being familiar enough to avoid confusion.
Blockchain experience design is about what an end-user might see or interact with. Unlike blockchain technology itself, which is something that developers will be familiar with, blockchain UX has yet to establish its norms, standards, or best practices. One focus that stands out the most is transparency, allowing the user to see and understand each transaction step.
The biggest difference might be between what we think of as a blockchain product or a dApp (decentralized app) versus a traditional product. Blockchain products are not finished products but rather part of an ecosystem that is constantly evolving.
What should UX designers pay the most attention to?
One of the biggest hurdles for blockchain experience design is simplifying the complex nature of a blockchain product into something understandable and usable.
Blockchain can be used in many fields: from banking to education and politics. Although blockchain has tons of benefits and can be used in almost any industry, designers should focus on creating user experiences that take advantage of the opportunities blockchain offers. P2P connections, permanent (irreversible) transactions, no 3rd-parties needed, digital security–it's all part of the blockchain experience. Designers need to focus on each aspect and design a UX that coincides with how people use the platform and entice them to become part of the community.
Best Practices for good UX in Blockchain
If you're designing blockchain applications, you need to understand your users, their needs, and how they interact with the technology. The process of designing blockchain experiences has three phases:
1. Understand the problem and key needs of your users
In order to design solutions, we must first identify what the problems are. As designers, we need to learn about our end users, the problems they are facing, and the goals they are trying to achieve.
Designing for Blockchain Experience is about designing for trust and transparency by creating experiences that engender a high level of trust in participants and remove any barriers to their communication and interactions with one another. While a user's end goal might be different depending on the use case, the underlying principles of blockchain technology are likely to be similar across different domains.
2. Research solutions to the problem and prototype solutions
The most valuable part of a blockchain is the distributed and decentralized nature of the technology. This offers tremendous benefits and poses challenges in adopting blockchain technology.
A successful blockchain application needs to consider the unique challenges that come with this technology and provide a seamless user experience (UX) for both the users and the network operators.
3. Validate the solution with users
If UX issues arise and users leave the platform, the developers will have wasted time, energy, and capital. The best way to avoid this scenario is to validate your solution with potential users beforehand.
By testing with the end-user and asking for feedback, you can design an experience that benefits them better, they feel more involved in, and a platform they will continue to use.
Additionally, there are two more points you should address:
4. User-created content should be easily discoverable; and
5. All actions should be traceable by end-users.
With this in mind, your blockchain experience will excel beyond user expectations.
Good Blockchain Experience Design Needs Cooperation Between Designers and Developers
Designers and developers may have different visions for the future of blockchain technology, but they share a common goal — to create the most user-friendly, fast, and secure applications possible.
Consensus is easy to come by when it comes to blockchain technology. Everyone agrees that blockchain is revolutionary, that it has the potential to change everything from finance to government to human rights.
But it's much harder to find consensus on how we should design blockchain UX. The nature of decentralized technology is that at least some users will run their nodes off of smartphones or old laptops, so you can't be too demanding in terms of speed or memory usage (although you can certainly optimize for these factors). This raises questions about how far you can go in terms of making things pretty and intuitive.
Not everyone interested in blockchain is familiar with its basic functions and principles, so you'll need to accommodate both the hardcore blockchain enthusiasts and newcomers who are just being introduced to the technology. And while users will vary in what they care about most:
- ease of use, and so on — you'll need to think about catering to each of these audiences if you want your application to be a success.
That requires cooperation between both developers and designers on all aspects of a blockchain product. As previously stated, blockchain products are not like traditional ones; they are constantly changing and growing. Now, we need designers to understand some of the development process and developers to understand some of the design processes for a dApp to succeed.
Shaping the Future of Blockchain UX
When it comes to blockchain, the possibilities are endless. The technology at the heart of the blockchain is still very new, so there will be plenty of exciting developments in the coming years. As this industry grows and expands, designers devise blockchain design principles and play a major role in shaping what blockchain's future looks like.