Jun 11, 2019

Designing for Blockchain – Secrets to Make Your App User-friendly

So you are building a Blockchain application. Which probably means that you know all about blockchain. But still, let us give a rundown of what a Blockchain is.

A blockchain is a list of records that hold information about online transaction data, specifically for cryptocurrency. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block and a timestamp.

Blockchain is immutable which means the details on a blockchain cannot be changed.

Basically, Blockchain is a publicly distributed ledger that holds information about the transaction. Not only for cryptocurrency, but for healthcare, food safety and many more.

But the problem is that blockchain is still not a mainstream technology. It is not as familiar to the normal Joe like IoT or your basic mobile app development. People are still skeptical about this technology and hence designing for BLockchain is even tougher. But why though?

Well, It’s because of the UI/UX design.

Let’s face it, when it comes to anything online, the UX design is what makes or breaks it. If the user experience design is not up to the mark, then it is not going to become popular. Would you use an app that has a bad UX design?

No, you won’t. Nor will we.

From the beginning, the blockchain world is mostly driven by highly technical developers and engineers. They are most keen on bringing out the absolute best from the technology. While doing just that, they have completely forgotten about one thing…

The user experience.

To make it more accessible to the users and make it more mainstream, they need to pay attention to the user experience, and they need to do it now.

Now let’s take a look at the current issues with blockchain designs.

What Are The Current Issues With Blockchain Tech UX?

Go up to anyone on the street and ask them if they know about blockchain, and they will probably answer with a no.

Why is that? Because even after 10 years of its existence the user experience of blockchain technology is riddled with issues that make it almost non-understandable to the normal people. And that is how they are unable to reap the rewards of this amazing technology.

But what are some of the most pressing issues about blockchain UX faced by blockchain designers? Here are some examples according to some famous blockchain architecture design and use cases

1. The Jargon Of Blockchain World

An ordinary guy does not know what dAp means, nor do they know what a smart contact is. And that is the main problem with blockchain.

Any blockchain based service has a UX that is filled with blockchain jargon. The various terms related to Blockchain is sprinkled heavily across the service, and with good reason of course. But the first time user of the blockchain service does not know about those terms.

A potential user does not want to learn about all the underlying technology just to use a service. What they want to know is that they will receive the service without any hitches. And this is where the blockchain technology is falling short.

Rather than thinking about the existing UX, they are trying to re-invent it, and it is simply not going to work. A normal user cares about the potential value of a technology or a service, not about cool technology.

2. The Unreadable Addresses

You should always remember your address, right?

In the case of blockchain, however, it is impossible to remember the address, because it looks something like this-

4Cjh1fgFufb3mdfgys9HJfd3hdGf5lNs

This is a lot harder to remember than 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney (the Finding Nemo address, remember?)

Even though the blockchain address is huge and hard to remember, it wouldn’t be a problem, if only we could change it. But we can’t. Even though it is done for privacy and security, it still poses a problem.

3. Exceptional Features, But Only For The Engineers

Those who dabble in the blockchain world know all about smart contacts and how it works. But it is not the work of an ordinary Joe to understand or create a smart contract. It takes an experienced engineer to do this.

In fact, all of blockchain’s exceptional features can be handled by experts and not someone who is just starting out in the blockchain world. Even something as simple as a smart contract needs knowledge of specific programming language, like C++, Haskell, etc. not to mention, creating a smart contact and applying it is a risky thing.

4. Transaction Speed And Cost

We hope you are still not believing that blockchain transactions are lightning fast!

A normal Blockchain transaction takes about 10 minutes to process and verify. However, a transaction can be queued for hours in the transaction pool.

This issue is connected with two aspects of the Bitcoin blockchain. First is the blockchain size, and the second is the transaction fee.

A block size on Bitcoin is 1MB. With this limited size of blocks, there are only a few transactions per block. And only a few blocks are mined every day. And that is why many transactions are queued for hours to be completed and verified.

The next reason is the transaction fee. Any new transaction that is being committed to the block, pays a voluntary fee to the block author. If a user chooses a lower fee, then the transaction can be left in the transaction queue for a long time.

5. The Case Of Transparency

Blockchain tech offers you with complete transparency.

You have access to a vast amount of information, such as when the transaction happened or when the Litecoin was mined. But the question is, how transparent is that transparency?

If you take one look at the blockchain explorer, you’ll see that it will take weeks for a normal person to verify the real source of their cryptocurrency. The information presented to the users in the name of transparency is too complicated to understand and break down.

Just giving access to information is not transparency. It should be readable by people.

Why Blockchain Needs A Better UX Design?

Now that we know all about issues with blockchain UX designs, let’s take a look at why we need a better UX design to improve upon the current blockchain design pattern.

To Make It More Understandable To The Novices

Many might argue that any changes made to the blockchain UX can compromise the safety and security of the technology. But, it is important to make those changes, for the sake of understanding.

The blockchain technology is hard to understand because of its technical jargon. The different aspects of this technology are not accessible to everyday people. This hurts the adoption of technology throughout the industry.

Which is why to make this technology and its applications more understandable to the users, designers need to put in their two cents and provide a better UX design to the blockchain users.

For The Sake Of Better Transparency

Blockchain maybe called the best when it comes to transparency, but really, even blockchain transparency is hard to understand.

And this is another reason why blockchain tech needs better transparency. With better blockchain design pattern it’ll become easier for the users to understand the vast amount of information they have in hand.

To Make It More Mainstream

Blockchain is not mainstream, yet.

Despite the possibility of its broad application in various industries, it is still not used as much as it should. It is a perfect way to collect and store information in a secure way. But the problem with poor UX design quality is hurting its chances of becoming a breakthrough.

Related Read: Make Your Own Bitcoin Wallet App With This Easy Guide

All the possibility and promises of blockchain technology would not be of any use if there is no way for the users to access and use the service properly. Which is why you need better designing for blockchain.

How To Design Better UX For Blockchain?

After knowing all about the UX issue of blockchain tech, the question is, how to develop a better UX design for blockchain technology?

Blockchain technology is a versatile technology. It may have begun with the cryptocurrency transaction, but now it is used for other industries like healthcare, cybersecurity, retail business and many more. So it is obvious that we need a better UX design for Blockchain technology.

And as for the ‘how to’ of it all, don’t worry, we have the answer.

1. Engage With The Users

The development of any technology, whether a simple Android app or a blockchain based service, need to have need engagement as its base. It is only by communicating with the user you can get mass adoption of your technology.

Once you are ready to begin with the blockchain application design, define your target audience. This will help you to narrow down the UX requirements for you and improve the blockchain design pattern. Once you know about your target demographic, start interacting with them through interviews, surveys, and testings.

A high engagement level with the users is going to help you to validate your product and testing assumption. After the engagement with the users, you can start building and designing for blockchain product based on their reviews.

2. Build Trust

Trust is the key in any business endeavor.

No user will use the platform if it has some serious trust issues. So you have to build trust in your blockchain application.

But how can you do it?

There are two ways you can gain the trust of the users. Through the appearance of the platform and the transparency. The design thinking for blockchains can help you achieve this trust very easily.

The appearance of the platform should be of good quality. This is the first way of getting the trust of the users. Any platform with a shady appearance can repel the user. So make sure that the appearance is consistent and of good quality.

The flow of visual style, iconography should be smooth and without any hitches. The language on the platform must also be clear.

And then comes the transparency. As we have mentioned in the previous points, blockchain transparency is really hard to understand. You need to resolve this issue through better designing for blockchain. You need to give your users the ability to read and understand the information without any problem. This way you can gain the absolute trust of the user on your platform.

3. Timing And Feedback

Update your user about your platform.

Whenever you have a new deal or offer, inform them. This way you can increase your engagement with the user and keeps you open to their feedback. Their feedbacks are absolutely important for the development of a better UX design for a blockchain application.

When they are using your platform for some sort of transaction, make sure to give them a confirmation of validation. Making a transfer is a matter of time, and confirmation during that is going to go a long way to make the UX of your platform better.

4. Educating The Client About The Product

Last but not least, you need to educate the users about your product.

With better UX design and application blockchain interface, you can easily approach the target audience and gain the exposure your product needs. A better UX design is imperative to build a connection and trust between the users and the developers.

The best way to educate the users about your product is to provide them with content regarding how the screens work. Telling them in creative ways about how your platforms work is also another way of educating them on your product, which builds user trust.

4 Principles To Apply While Designing UX For Blockchain

More often than not new blockchain startups ignore the matter of UX design. This results in failure of mass-adoption of the product. And without mass adoption, the complete advantage of blockchain cannot be utilized.

There are some blockchain design principles that any startup must consider when it comes to UX design for blockchain.

1. User-centric Feature

When you are designing the blockchain UI design, keep the matter of user-centered design in mind. A user-centric design helps in building products and platforms that users need and value.

Blockchain design is not just about building cool technology. To make a user-centric design, you need to understand what problem you are solving, who you are solving it for, and why you are solving it.

Your ideas for the blockchain based project needs to be valid. Without validation, there is no value of the idea and the project and it can be an absolute failure. However, you need to go with this validation process before writing the Whitepaper about what you are building. Writing a whitepaper is a common practice for a blockchain project.

Designing a user-centric UX for Blockchain basically centers around validating learning through rapid prototype testing. This way you can actually launch a product that everyone in the market wants. The product is also more accessible and engaging, leading way to mass adoption.

2. Build Trust With Your Design

People today are less prone to use services and websites that they do not trust.

Blockchain was built as a trustless system. But even then, you need to gain the user’s trust for your platform. And the easiest way to do so is through good UX design.

According to The Nielsen Norman Group’s research, there are four credibility factors to communicate the trustworthiness of a website. These are- design quality, upfront disclosure of information, comprehensive content and a connection to the rest of the web.

Together these four features gain the trust of the users. This will make them believe that you know how to help them.

Along with consistent UI and iconography, jargon-free language to easily communicate with the user and reducing the amount of learning.

Related Read: Proven Strategies To Build A P2P Payment Application in 2019

When developing a blockchain project, you have the added challenge of making the people trust a technology they have never tried before. Which is why you need to be transparent about how your blockchain platform is working.

3. Design For Understanding

Since you are working with blockchain already or planning on working with blockchain, you probably know all about terms like decentralized ledgers, mining, hash functions, protocols, proof of work, etc. it’s all very technical, but that’s not a problem for you, because you have a pretty good idea about blockchain technology.

But the users may not have any idea about all these technical terms. And that is where the matter of understanding comes in. putting too much emphasis on the technical aspect of it all while developing the UX  for blockchain database design can alienate your users.

By simplifying the message for the more casual users and understanding their behaviors you can make sure that all the information presented on your website is valuable and clear. With this principle, you can create a UX design for your blockchain platform to use which, the user does not need to have any prior knowledge of the technology.

People want to reap the rewards of blockchain technology and a complicated UX riddled with overly technical jargon can become a barrier to clear communication.

4. Design To Stand Out

Users today have high expectations about the UI/UX of any given product they are using on their smartphone or on their laptops. Which is why in a tough market with competitors offering similar products and services, the UX design is becoming a major factor.

Blockchain startups today are facing the same challenges as many other services when it comes to UX designing. They need to provide information to the user while building an intuitive experience for them as well. Along with that, blockchain startups also have to introduce them to new technology.

New startups need to stand out in a tough market and they can do it easily with unique UX design. And in this case, the other blockchain projects are not their only competition.

Various cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges also have to compete with established services like Paypal and Venmo. These services are well tested and have gained the trust of people all around the world.

The only way blockchain can compete with all the market competitors and come out victorious is to have a unique UX design that is also easy to understand for the user.

These principles can help you to build a better UX for blockchain, so make sure when you hire blockchain app designers, they have a good understanding of blockchain architecture design.

Last Words About Blockchain UX Design

The UX design scenario of the blockchain industry is dire. But that has not stopped it from growing. Despite the lack of good enough UX designing, the popularity of blockchain application is only on the rise.

But the question is, how long till the growth stops because of the lack of better UX design?

The blockchain industry is being used by a handful of people who are trying to use it’s potential for the greater good. But the greater good can not work if the numerous people out there are completely unaware of the technology and how it works.

And that is why you need to develop a better UX design for Blockchain app. Whatever service you are providing through the blockchain platform, you have to make it more accessible to the people. Do this and you have a sure chance of success with your blockchain application development endeavor.

Author Image

Pratip Biswas

Founder, Unified Infotech

I am an Entrepreneur and a Tech Geek with more than 1500 successful projects launched. I share my experience through my love for writing and help other entrepreneurs reach their business goals.