Interview with ENS team (Beltran Berrocal)

The fifth ENS team interview is Beltran Berrocal, our UX designer / elf wizard Ofoz EigenDwarf (in the D&D world).

Hi, Beltran. Can you let me know a bit more about your background?

I’m a 360º Designer, self taught developer, educator and entrepreneur.
I studied Industrial Design at the at the Politecnico of Milan, and well in the Italian tradition of the field, for us Design is a way of thinking, a mindset, and also a methodology, that you can apply to create anything “from a spoon to the city”. As such I’ve designed many different things like products, communications, apps, video, lighting, interiors, cars, strategies, exhibitions, data visualisations etc.
While still in university I co-founded the studio with a few friends and produced a family of interactive physical products in times before Arduino and Kickstarter.

I co-founded many business, some successful some less, and made all the mistakes in the book :). Luckily I also enjoy sharing the knowledge and have been accelerating other people and projects, teaching all kinds of design in universities and facilitating workshops helping C-level managers
understand and create the future of their businesses through design and technology.

I also co-founded an Art Foundation that stemming from the “Art for hackers”, puzzle like disassemblable sculptures of my late father, the Spanish sculptor Miguel Berrocal, aims at advancing Art, Science, Technology and Culture in all of its forms…including blockchain ;)

Can you let me know how you got into Ethereum and ENS?

I met Nick Johnson when collaborating with him and others to solve the downfall of the DAO in 2016.
I had always been interested in governance and had followed Ethereum since the conference in Miami where Vitalik introduced the idea in 2014 but had never had the change to get my hands dirty.

To solve the problem of the DAO, to understand who was owed what amount from the Extrabalance, I wrote a deterministic parser for the Ethereum Blockchain rather than relying on the Events of the Smart contracts. It took 3 of us a couple of months to match the numbers in our independent results.

That experience, especially the lack of transparency in both the human processes behind the governance (understandable because everyone was just braking the mould), as well as the hardship to actually retrieve the information in a supposedly “transparent” blockchain, informed a lot the thoughts when, at the beginning of 2018, I wrote the Web3 Design Principles, a framework of UX guidelines for Distributed Applications.

I of course submitted it to Nick for review and he offered me the challenge of tackling the UX of ENS which I gladly accepted

You are very opinionated about Blockchain user experience. Tell us more about it.

A lot is detailed in the Web3 Design Principles but I always suggest people to start with the summary tweetstorm :)

I think that User Experience is the second side of the “Scalability Problem”: to allow for millions of transactions we need both the infrastructure that can sustain them, and also the masses of users who will want to make them. Today unfortunately the experience of using crypto products is plagued with very complicated mechanisms that scare away the non-crypto users, the majority of the world.

On one side the technology is so young and “slow” that the UX challenges resemble more those of the early days of dial up web, but presented to a user base that has been accustomed to Smart phones, instantaneous interactions and years of using battle tested ux patterns.

On the other side we are creating a whole new system, the internet of value, which requires new mechanisms that users are not familiar with yet and that can’t be represented through known metaphors.

So Ux designers need to both educate and guide the users into this brave new world.

Where I’m most “opinionated” is when I talk about the transparency of the front-end: on one side we have this amazing blockchain technology on the backend, which is trustless and transparent, but then we build on top opaque and trustful front-ends that render mute those properties. The solution is to bring to the front-end level that same transparency and this is done through UX patterns that are detailed in the Web3 Design Principles

What is your current focus in terms of ENS development?

We are completely redesigning the experience of registering and managing domains and subdomains, within the constraints of the current smart contracts and the the model of the Vickrey auction that is very very confusing for everyone, even expert crypto users.

Currently majority of contributors to Ethereum ecosystems are developers. Do you have any suggestions about how non developers like you can contribute to?

This space is so multidisciplinary and transformative that there are challenges for many different professionals.
If you are an economist, lawyer, psychologist-behavioral designer, game theorist, UX designer, etc…get in here!

Especially if you are a designer starting to be crypto-curios, get in touch, I’d love to help and accelerate your on-boarding as we need more of us in here :)

Even users can help, voice your doubts and confusions about something that you don’t understand, it helps us know where to focus our attention.

When you are not working on ENS, what do you do?

I’m fostering the Open Source Web3 Design community on Telegram and Conflux Forum .

I’m also working with other designers (and the whole community) on producing a Web3 Design System, a continuation of the Web3 Design Principles that aims at

  • researching and extracting from the community insights on the most pressing UX problems
  • producing a series of​guidelines and Design Principles, (similar to Google’s Material Design minus the styling suggestions), focused around the​specific UX needs of distributed applications
  • and creating the “Web3 Design Library”, a Bootstrap like library for developers to​quickly develop Dapp front-ends, through simple and​composable web3 specific components​and UX flows, that automatically implement​the Web3 Design Principles and the other UX guidelines

Thanks Beltran! Beltran has lots of ideas and can’t wait to collaborate with you during ENS hackathon.



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