A call to the ICON community: this is how we win.

PARROT9
PARROT9
Dec 2 · 9 min read

On November 25, ICON’s price hit a new all time low. People are fearful, frustrated, and anxious about their investment. They want to know what ICONLOOP and the public representatives (P-Reps) are doing about it. Isn’t that what they’re paid for?

Let’s get something straight.

The falling price isn’t Min’s fault, it isn’t the P-Reps’ fault, and it doesn’t mean the end for ICON. Almost every coin is dropping. The charts are identical. The markets are speculative, driven by traders and investors like ourselves.

6 different altcoins with the same chart pattern.
6 different altcoins with the same chart pattern.
Altcoins are speculative. They all follow Ethereum, so their charts usually look the same.

Speculation drives ICON’s price, but we can change that. To give ICON a use beyond speculation, we need to make products that outweigh the volume from traders. Products that put upward pressure on the price. Products that are so useful, people want to buy ICX to use them.

If we focus on real-world use instead of speculation, ICON’s price can outperform the market.

To get real-world use, we need to create apps that people want to use. That people love using, because they’re better than every alternative. If we fall short, we’ve already lost. The competition is brutal, and people won’t give us a chance unless we give them a damn good reason to.

They only need one reason: ease of use. IBM found that every $1 spent on ease of use returned $10 on the first day, and $100 within the first year. And websites that offer a superior experience convert 4x more customers. If we use ICON’s technology to enhance the user experience (UX) in new ways, no one else can compete.

This is a race to see which blockchain can reach the masses first, and we have an advantage. We have a community of talented people who get funded to make ICON better. Who can work together to make ICON better. Ethereum can’t compete with that. Neither can EOS. They had a head-start, but now it’s time to overtake them.

While our competitors focus on hype, we can create apps that appeal to the masses. We can build an ecosystem with a reputation for quality. An ecosystem that people want to use, and our competitors want to copy.

That’s how we win.

Step 1: Create apps that appeal to the masses

We can use ICON to solve a lot of problems. Tools for developers and technical investors are useful, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves. To increase volume and demand, we need to create products that appeal to the masses.

TwentyFour and bubble are two products designed to do just that.

Neither of them started with the technology. We started with the problem, and designed our solution around the user. An average, non-technical user. Only then did we work out how the technology can enhance that experience.

A design concept for our photo competition app, TwentyFour.
A design concept for our photo competition app, TwentyFour.
TwentyFour

TwentyFour is the first app we’ll build to solve the adoption problem. It turns photography into a competition, in a way that Snapchat and Instagram never could.

Photographers can upload a new photo every 24 hours, and people vote for their favourites. Photos place on the global and local charts, and photographers have the chance to earn rewards for them.

TwentyFour has two tiers: Amateur and Pro.

The purpose of Amateur is reach. It’s free to compete, so it has a low barrier to entry. It uses the blockchain for voting, but we won’t expose it. The more fun and engaging we make it, the more likely it is that people will want to compete with the pros.

Pro will put upward pressure on ICX. To compete in Pro, you need to pay a small entry fee. Each photographer earns ICX as a reward for the number of votes their photo receives. The ability to earn rewards without placing in the top 3 is enticing. We can expose ICX to people here because the rewards make it worthwhile for them.

bubble

bubble solves the music industry problem. Streaming made music more accessible, but artists earn less for it. To earn the US minimum wage of $1,472 per month, artists need 200,272 plays on Apple Music, or 336,842 plays on Spotify. On YouTube, they need 2,133,333 plays. And if they’re signed, the label takes a cut, too.

bubble is our solution. It removes the middleman and helps artists distribute their music directly to fans.

It’s a place for people to interact with artists. Buy or stream music. Find new favourite artists and songs. Follow their friends and listen to their playlists.

And with ICON, we can verify who created or purchased a song, and reward artists for every like and play.


Step 2: Build an ecosystem with a reputation for quality

To build an ecosystem known for quality, ICON needs interfaces that are fast and easy to use. We could limit our scope to a handful of apps, but for ICON to stand out, every interface needs to be outstanding.

We plan to offer UX consulting to P-Reps and development teams. Some will need more help than others. We’ll review and test interfaces, design solutions, and help teams apply them. And we’ll share insights from user testing to teach the community how to create products that are easy to use.

We’re a small team, so until we grow, we need to focus on core projects. That starts with the figurehead: the ICON Foundation. They have an attractive design style, and with a usability focus, they’ll be unstoppable. It’s crucial to get voting right, so we began with the ICONex mobile wallet.

10 screens we’ve designed for the wallet and voting functionality in the ICONex mobile app.
10 screens we’ve designed for the wallet and voting functionality in the ICONex mobile app.
Our ICONex wallet and voting redesign.

We recently published our ICONex redesign and voting concepts. Since then, the ICON Foundation released their voting update for iOS. The feedback has been impressive: people love the new visual design. We love it, too, and we’ll use it to enhance our redesign.

ICONex has aesthetic appeal, but it could be easier to use. Over and over, on Reddit, Telegram, and Twitter, people on iOS are asking how to vote. It’s not clear to them at all. At least 3 P-Reps had to create tutorials to help people through it, because it isn’t intuitive enough to do on their own.

Questions from people in the community about how to use ICONex to vote on iOS.
Questions from people in the community about how to use ICONex to vote on iOS.
People struggled to find where to vote in the ICONex wallet.

When interfaces are hard to use, people blame themselves. If they believe ICON is too technical for them, they won’t adopt it—they’ll abandon it.

Voter apathy is another concern. People won’t care who they vote for unless it’s easy to find out why to vote for them. If we make the process too hard, too slow, or prompt for passwords at every turn, we give them even less incentive to care.

Our ICONex redesign can solve many voting issues without forcing policy changes. It embraces our specialties to encourage collaboration among P-Reps. It offers transparency: how much a P-Rep earns, how many voters they have, and why you should vote for them. It will also provide suggestions for apathetic voters so they don’t blindly vote for the top.

We still have a lot to do before our redesign is ready for development:

  • Address book
  • Coin listing page
  • Contribution page
  • Help tooltips
  • Multi-wallet functionality
  • Onboarding
  • Settings
  • Transaction page

It’s more efficient to solve problems during design, and that involves prototyping. We’ll build a full prototype in HTML and CSS to test the core functionality and perfect the interactions. When it’s ready, we’ll bring it to the ICON Foundation.


Let’s be realistic

These projects won’t be possible without the community’s help. To create products people love, we need to test with real people. We need feedback from real people. You can help shape them. If we work on this as a community, our competitors won’t stand a chance.

These products won’t be ready for a while. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we need to take the time to get it right. We’re not developers, so any time estimates we provide now won’t be realistic. What we will do is share our order of priority and keep the community up to date with our progress.

ICONex comes first, because it’s important to get an informed voter base as soon as possible. TwentyFour is next. Then bubble. And we’ll do UX consulting throughout.

The three projects we have planned so far, in order: ICONex, TwentyFour, and bubble.
The three projects we have planned so far, in order: ICONex, TwentyFour, and bubble.
Our roadmap: ICONex, TwentyFour, and bubble.

Where we are now

Two “real” designers who understand research and can think like the user and can do the UI will almost always do a better job than a team of 20 narrow path experts combined.

There are only two of us, but we can cover a lot of ground. Everything you’ve seen from us so far, we’ve produced in two months while working full-time jobs. And you’ve only seen 10% of the work. So much more goes into this that we have to throw away. Trial and error. Variation after variation.

To maintain quality, we have to focus on fundamental projects first. We can’t wait to work with the community, but we can’t help everyone at once. It doesn’t benefit anyone if we spread ourselves too thin.

We need to focus on our strongest skills, and know when to outsource work. We’re not developers, and we don’t pretend to be. We plan to leverage other teams to help us bridge those gaps.

With so much work ahead of us, time is our biggest obstacle. To give ICON the attention it deserves, Pete is now working on it full-time. Lisa will join him when funding allows.

We’ll then look to hire more UX specialists. It won’t be easy to find the right people, and we have to develop many of the processes first.

When we’re able to spend more attention on the rest of the ecosystem, we’ll create a portal for teams to request work. Until then, please be patient.

We need to hold ICX for as long as possible. Our rewards don’t even cover one of our monthly salaries, so we need to wait until they’re worth more. We’ll need to hire people at the top of their game, and those people aren’t cheap.

Initially, we’ll only withdraw rewards for essential costs, like server fees. When we’ve built up a reserve, we’ll use our rewards to:

  • Fund our own time
  • Hire other UX specialists
  • Cover business expenses
  • Incentivise user testing
  • Attend conferences

We also intend to use the DApp Booster Program (DBP) and Ecosystem Expansion Project (EEP) to fund our apps. We’ll need resources, and don’t want our popularity as a P-Rep to limit the progress of these projects.


Closing thoughts

We have a lot of work to do, and we’re here to contribute value, not noise. We pay attention to all community discussions, but will only chime in if we have something useful to say.

To be transparent, we’ve opened a Telegram channel to share our progress. If you want to keep up to date, learn more about UX, or discuss our work, you’re more than welcome to join us.

Until next time.


PARROT9

User experience design team. ICON P-Rep. Here to design the user experience of the future.

PARROT9

Written by

PARROT9

User experience design team. ICON P-Rep. Here to design the user experience of the future.

PARROT9

PARROT9

User experience design team. ICON P-Rep. Here to design the user experience of the future.

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