Designing the Future of Web3 — A Recap of Devcon4

On October 30th for four days, the city of Prague became the nexus for the Ethereum community, with hundreds of developers, designers, and community members coming together for Devcon4. This year the Ethereum Foundation organized the conference around the themes of Scalability, Security, Privacy, Developer Experience, UX & Design, and Society & Systems.

For months the Web3 community has been talking about how design is one of the biggest challenges facing crypto adoption. Given that, the ConsenSys Design Team was excited to see how much emphasis the Devcon4 placed on User Experience and Design. Web3 presents new challenges to user experience that will require collaboration from across the ecosystem to solve.

At the conference, our team was busy running sessions, facilitating UX audits, and unveiling Rimble.

Design Sessions at Devcon

Devcon4 attendees during the onboarding sprint

When the call for proposals came for Devcon, the Design Team self-organized and began designing workshops, writing abstracts, and worked to explore some of the pressing design challenges facing the ETH community. Our goal was to help make design accessible to everyone (but especially developers).

We were excited to have several of our team present:

  • Sarah Baker Mills (ConsenSys Design) gave a lightning talk at the opening of the conference about the importance of design.
  • Hadassah Damien (ConsenSys Design) and Ryann Hoffman (ConsenSys Design) ran an accelerated Design-Sprint-like session with Beltran Berrocal (of Decentralized Design Lab) to explore ways of solving user onboarding problems in Web3.
  • Nguyet Vuong (Civil) did a live roleplay of the Civil Token Curated Registry, helping participants to understand the mechanisms behind the registry.
  • Jonny Howle (UPort) explored human-centered identity and how we are more than private/public keys. In his speech, he asked developers to flip their thinking and start with humans first when designing experiences to support the most fundamental aspects of ourselves.
  • Alisa March (Gitcoin), Will Villanueva (Bounties), and Nelson Pimenta (Kauri) facilitated a discussion on how bounties-based products are changing the gig economy.

In addition to all the sessions our team ran, we were so excited to see some incredible sessions from our peers in the space:

  • Kevin Kim (Quartz) gave some great tips for how to get early market validation.
  • Tara Tan (IDEO CoLab) & Connie Yang (Coinbase) gave a deep dive into the human-centered approach to designing for dApps. They covered everything from rapid-fire user testing and prototyping to tools for facilitating debate and reaching consensus.
  • Siddharth Coelho-Prabhu (Coinbase Wallet) explored how we get to 1 million dApp users. He also detailed the Utility Phase of Crypto: Wallet → Commerce → Earn → Identity → dApps.

dApp UX Audits at Devcon

UX audits

Ahead of the conference, our Design Ops Co-Lead Amy Jung worked with the Ethereum foundation to set up the first ever UX Audits. Over the course of the event, 26 designers conducted over 45 audits for dApp developers — helping them explore everything from the copy in their app to user flows. Several teams had such a positive experience that they came back for a second audit.

We received some incredible feedback from designers who conducted audits:

[One #Buidler] came in with a prototype on his mobile phone, a tool for publishing unstoppable blog posts on IPFS, and for readers to support the publishers. We ended up talking way beyond UX, into questioning the business model (attached to the mobile platform he was choosing) while talking about his target user. We talked behavioral design as an extension of education function he wanted to explore with the audits.
I did a quick 15 min audit of a dApp. I gave him some advice on potential problem-solving approaches he could explore, and what kind of outcomes he could expect from them. He was super grateful and excited. He asked if he could keep the small sketch we made with some ideas, and even emailed me after to say thanks again. It was pretty amazing to see firsthand how happy he was purely because of that room. The UX audits were a huge hit — I think they perfectly showcased the value design is bringing into this space, and how Design from day zero can be one of the most important things we can do right now.

If you’re curious to see some of the criteria for the UX audits, you can download the template deck here.

Rimble: A Web3 Design System

Gustavo Esquinca introducing Rimble

At Devcon, the design team also unveiled Rimble — an open source Web3 design system. For now we are simply making our work in progress public, the library only has some basic building blocks which we will be adding to over the coming months. We are working with research and design partners to create the initial Ethereum-specific components. Some of our top priorities include patterns for connecting a wallet, displaying a user’s identity, completing a transaction, and communicating transaction status.

Over the coming weeks, we will be iterating on our existing components and adding some additional ethereum specific components. If you want to get involved join our Github or follow Open Source Web3Design.

Devcon4 UX Design Awards

Amy Jung presenting the UX Design Awards

This year was the inaugural UX Design Awards at Devcon. The awards recognize the talent and effort of the most ingenious Web3 UX designers from developers and designers in the community. The awards focused on the following criteria:

  • Ingenuity: Is the solution cleverly inventive or resourceful?
  • Language & Visual Cues: Are the action commands clear and easy to understand?
  • Usability: Is it easy to interact with?
  • User Research: Were decisions informed by insights and research
  • Accessibility: Does it reduce the barriers to entry?

This year’s UX Design Award winners were:

  • Bounties — Bounties is changing the way we collaborate on tasks by creating components to power a new generation of human incentivization. Their new explorer features an easy-to-navigate user experience — with clear clues and consistent messaging.
  • Argent — Argent is a wallet that on-boards new users in less than 10 seconds. All users get free ENS, removing the need for hexadecimal addresses. No more gas, Argent subsidies gas for wallet creation and transactions. No need to have a seed phrase, Guardians can help you recover your wallet.
  • blueshyft — blueshyft makes it easy for residents of Australia to onramp onto crypto with fiat (cash or credit card). Users can walk into one of 1,200 convenience stores and instantly buy crypto.
UX18 Award by Martin Lukas Ostachowski

The three winners received a rare non fungible token designed by Martin Lukas Ostachowski and supported by the artist community.

Honorable Mentions:

  • CryptoCare — for their whimsical take on social impact and crypto philanthropy
  • Aragon — for their open source UI component toolkit
  • Status — for their dedication to design research and their mobile onboarding

Designing the Future of Ethereum

After Devcon4, our team is more excited than ever about the possibilities of a decentralized society. Developers at Devcon4 were excited to learn about user research, experience design, and to think deeply about how to overcome challenges like private key management and gas fees.