This article is the second part of a two-part dispatch by Cody Robertson, Creative Director for Polyient Labs, mapping out a decentralized vision for Web 3.0.
In Part 1, Robertson looked back at the early days of the web, identifying key events and elements that shaped web UX — elements that are still being used more than 20 years later.
Below, he examines how blockchain technology offers the design and dev communities a way forward to an optimal Web 3.0.
Part 2, Web UX Tomorrow
By Cody Robertson
DApps — The Good and the Bad
The next generation of the web is about to make the advancements that have been introduced since 2000 look positively primitive.
Web 3.0 will be focused on delivering an optimal user-controlled world wide web, where they control their data, their accounts, their transactions and their identities.
In order to accomplish this, we need to fully utilize blockchain in these applications.
The age of the DApp — with backend code running on a decentralized peer-to-peer network (a blockchain) — is here.
A variety of DApps are now on the market, varying by intention, industry and tech. That is how it should be.
As the ethereum whitepaper lays out, there are three main types of DApps: “apps that manage money, apps where money is involved (but also requires another piece), and apps in the “other” category, which include voting and governance systems.”
Each of these unique DApps have their own respective strengths and weaknesses. I’m not going to address the various technical problems and limitations (for technical problems, read this). Instead, I will discuss the usability problems — specifically three challenges currently undermining DApps: human-friendliness, cross-chain-functionality and accessibility.
“People ignore design that ignores people.”
— Frank Chimero,
The quote above beautifully reflects the most prevalent usability issues surrounding DApps, namely, most of them aren’t meant for non-technical users and — in some cases — technically advanced users are stumped.
There are four main reasons for this:
1. They lack excellent design
2. They provide non-intuitive transactional flows
3. There is a general lack of education
4. There is an overall lack of continuity
Keep in mind, people have been hearing about blockchain for years. More than a few are apprehensive about DApps. As a result, if these skeptics encounter anything less than a perfect experience, it further justifies their doubts about blockchain. Only by offering blockchain-based products that are easier, more convenient and safer to use (than what is currently on the market) will blockchain skeptics embrace DApps and overcome their anxiety.
Learning From Financial Transactions.
Crypto enthusiasts routinely throw around terms such as “gas”, “staking” and “wallets” when discussing financial transactions. To the uninitiated, these terms are foreign and a little scary, especially when you consider we are talking about money.
In a traditional transaction models, purchase-flow usually involves either direct or external payments. Direct payments require a user to enter credit card info. External payments ask users to pay through a middleman, such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Plaid.
Both direct and indirect approaches have perfected their transactional flows because the people behind them have created frictionless environments to facilitate payments.
Blockchain equivalents are the opposite of frictionless. Look at just one blockchain payment platform — Scatter.
With Scatter, the steps to transact on the blockchain involve connecting digital wallets, integrating with various services, and finally having to “Gas” or “Stake”.
But that’s not all. Unlike PayPal, you need two external services to transact (as a result, you are never sure about transaction fees).
For those of us in the world of blockchain, we have come to believe this complicated dance is just the cost of doing business.
But to outsiders, the process is full-on friction.
For those new to blockchain, these extra layers of services, weird jargon and undefined processes are daunting and confirm their worst fears about cryptocurrencies. Can you blame people who are reluctant to participate in this world or deal with multilayered hassles and foreign concepts suck as “staking”?
Making matters worse: there is a noticeable disparity in how the many DApps already in use look, feel and function. Depending on the platform you select, you can either integrate with wallet, scan a QR code, enter your address, or connect to a service to transact or use the application. (Sound familiar? Think of the clumsy navigation surrounding Web 1.0 in part 1 of this article.)
The many methods now in place to move digital securities around or interact with DApps vary depending on the underlying technology supporting each DApp. This lack of uniformity illustrates the need for conformity in blockchain UX patterns as we move towards Web 3.0.
A Better Web’ a Brighter Future
“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”
― George S. Patton.
So, how do we solve current DApp headaches described above? How do we make human-friendly, cross-chain functional blockchain experiences that leave users wanting more?
Past is prologue. Consider the evolution of the Web. Look back at the solutions created in the past and adapt them for a bright, decentralized future.
Right now the answer to the question “How will Web 3.0 progress?” is in our collective hands. Together, we in dev and design are in the ideal position where we can collaborate to address and solve the usability problems now hampering DApps. We can get it right, ensuring the next generation delivers a more meaningful and effective user experience.
A better web and a brighter future for everyone — both blockchain enthusiasts and skeptics starts here.
Web3 For All (W3FA) will serve as a community-run foundation, think-tank, and initiative dedicated to solving the usability problems that plague our current generation of DApps.
Launching W3FA hinges on bringing together the best interface designers, DApp developers, usability experts, UX researchers and community members now in the field. The end goal is to build and nurture a community with a robust, front-end design framework to tackle the current challenges facing decentralized tech.
Together we can overcome these challenges and create the visual, communicative, and experiential thread that weaves a more perfect decentralized application ecosystem together.
With W3FA together we can take the first step towards not only designing the web of the future with the tools of today.
Stay tuned as the W3FA community takes root and grows.
What are your thoughts? Do you have ideas on how we can leverage blockchain and Dapps to enhance Web 3.0? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line at Cody@Polyient.io.
About the Author
Cody Robertson is the Creative Director for Polyient Labs, where he oversees the creative direction and brand strategy for Polyient and its portfolio clients. Prior to joining Polyient, he served in senior creative roles at various blockchain startups and agencies in LA, Phoenix and NYC . You can follow Cody on social media @Mackody or find his works on Dribbble.