Web3 is one of the fastest-growing technology trends in the world today. With a global market size of over $3 billion and an expected positive growth cycle over the next decade, web3 is no longer a concept but a reality.
Behind this massive growth are web3 startups developing systems to unlock web3’s potential and usher in a new era of internet technology. While web3 startups have been successful for the most part, the road toward mainstream web3 adoption faces significant challenges. One of the most notable challenges is that of web3 design.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the basics of web3 and look into the design challenges web3 technology faces. Let’s dive in.
What Is Web3?
Web3 refers to a new iteration of the internet, built on decentralized blockchain networks. Unlike its predecessors, web1 and web2, no centralized entities control web3. Instead, web3 users own the data and applications they use. They will manage their privacy and earn rewards for using this version of the internet.
The web3 ecosystem encompasses various technologies, including cryptocurrencies, NFTs, decentralized finance (DeFi), DAOs, the metaverse, etc. Together, these technologies provide necessary instruments of ownership, identity, remuneration, and governance.
Ethereum Co-founder Gavin Woods introduced the term web3 in 2014. Woods and other thought leaders in the industry proposed web3 as the next evolution of the internet. Since then, web3 has enjoyed massive growth and media attention.
Although most web3 integrations are still under development, we now have complete web3 ecosystems that support the basic features of this technology. The next area of focus is on driving users to shift from web2 to web3 technology. Web3 design remains a considerable challenge that slows down the adoption of this technology.
Exploring the Web3 Design Problem
One of the most significant setbacks to the mass adoption of web3 is that it’s too complex and difficult to understand, especially for those with little knowledge of blockchain technology. Most internet users aren't familiar with web3 technologies such as cryptos, tokens, NFTs, DAOs, etc. As a result, they find it hard to navigate web3-based decentralized applications (Dapps) and webpages.
Dapps differ from standard mobile apps because they are built on permissionless, trustless blockchain networks. The terminologies and concepts that underlie Dapps are also foreign to the average internet user. The current web3 design is more developer-focused and, at best, can only serve experienced crypto-native degens.
To solve these problems, design teams must implement good design elements that promote functionality and enhanced user experiences. Mainstream web3 adoption requires designers and developers to simplify UI and UX design to onboard average internet users.
6 Web3 Design Principles to Consider
A seamless, interactive design is a key factor in making web3 accessible to all internet users. Currently, developers rather than designers determine web3 design, a situation that leaves a lot to be desired in the final product.
Here are six web3 design principles that can simplify and transform user experiences to accelerate the mass adoption of web3 technology.
1. Newbie Mode
Almost everyone is new to web3 and the underlying blockchain technology architecture. For users to leverage web3, they must understand how to work with the technology. This will lower the barriers to entry and enable users with little or no technical knowledge to access web3 products without much hassle.
To execute newbie mode, there are a few design principles to consider. First, try to use as little technical jargon as possible. Apps should minimize using new concepts and words, especially on home pages. In addition, ensure you provide different levels of educational content to help users understand the product. The interface can include snippets and pop-ups that open more detailed information in a new tab.
The end result should be an interface that not only simplifies user interactions but also introduces users to essential concepts of the technology.
2. Active Guidance
Users must have clear and consistent navigation channels. The user interface needs to define their next steps, what these steps entail, and give options for returning to the previous steps. Always anticipate the need for further help, and strive to reduce it as much as possible Also, declutter the interface and only include elements that serve necessary purposes.
Visual consistency across different products is essential for establishing trust and familiarity with the product. Aim for typographic, language, and color consistency. The language should be clear, concise, and aligned with the user's communication patterns. Grid-based layouts are preferable for smooth user experiences. Colors should have meaning and express brand personality.
Web3 centers around its community of users. While some Dapps are built for solitary experiences, they still depend on communities for active maintenance and growth. Communities also help to enhance trust in the product. For DAOs, communities are the central pillars of the whole ecosystem.
Good product design needs to include information about the number of unique token holders or members, their responsibilities, and links to social media channels where community members can communicate.
In the case of DAOs, transparency about the composition of the community, staking distribution statistics, and voting power are valuable. DAOs also need to demonstrate a strong community alignment with their mission statement.
5. Constant Feedback
For UIs to be more user-friendly, they must alert users about what’s happening to reduce anxiety and foster understanding. This can occur through motion and animations that indicate processes in the background.
A good UI takes into account the amount of time an activity or function will take, informs the user about the process, and displays the progress on the screen. For example, when conducting a transaction from a crypto wallet like Metamask, the Dapp alerts the user about the average amount of time it will take while also tracking the transaction’s progress.
Another important principle for establishing trust in web3 is transparency, especially concerning transactions. Web3 makes use of digital assets which hold tremendous monetary value. Onboarding web2 users to this new technology calls for clarity around how their digital assets flow through the web3 ecosystem.
It’s critical to clarify that transactions, once completed, are irreversible. Ensure you notify users about actions that involve money or value. Most web2 users don’t know about fundamental web3 concepts like gas fees. Clarify what gas fees are and how much they need to complete a transaction. After completing transactions, always provide a relevant summary and an option for viewing transaction history.
Transparency regarding account management and recovery also plays a crucial role. When setting up a wallet, users must understand that smart contracts entirely run the Dapps they use, and no centralized entities hold their data. Introduce warnings that remind users to use passwords they can remember and store their seed phrases somewhere they can always access them.
Navigating the Web3 Design Problem
The web3 revolution is heating up. With numerous web3 startups springing up to build functional, self-sufficient web3 ecosystems, we’re getting closer and closer to the new iteration of the internet.
While web3 holds attractive potential for all internet users, global adoption of the technology faces its fair share of setbacks. Web3 design is a major concern for industry players developing web3 ecosystems. Users will require user experiences that match or surpass the current web2 standards.
By implementing design principles like consistency and data transparency, web3 developers can transform their UIs and provide satisfactory user experiences to help onboard a new generation of users into the technology. Developers and designers need to understand how to work around the complexities that surround web3 to make the technology accessible, trustworthy, and acceptable to average internet users.
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