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Simplifying Blockchain: Building Human-Centric Web3 Products

The talk centers on making blockchain more user-friendly by focusing on human-centric design in Web3 products.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!


In a detailed presentation, Phil, the co-founder of Airfoil, outlines the urgent need for more user-friendly, human-centric design within the rapidly emerging Web3 space. He highlights the importance of accessible and compelling design as a way to make the blockchain technology more approachable, especially for non-technical users. As crypto and blockchain technologies strive for mainstream adoption, Phil emphasizes that design is not just about aesthetic appeal, but involves understanding user psychology and designing with the end user's experience in mind. He shares practical tips on how to keep users engaged, reduce complexity, and make Web3 products something that everyone can use with confidence.

Key Points:

Why Design Matters in Blockchain Technology

Phil begins the talk by emphasizing how critical design is in the adoption of blockchain technology. He shares an anecdote about a YouTuber facing challenges using a government-launched crypto wallet in El Salvador to underline how poor design can lead users to believe crypto is not meant for them. He posits that design in blockchain should be about comprehending user needs and customizing the experience to be as intuitive as possible, ultimately retaining user interest and trust.

Principles of User-Centric Design

Phil presents three principles vital to user-centric design in blockchain technology: communicating with users, minding the user's "health bar," and managing user attention. He stresses the significance of starting with "why" when engaging users, using power-ups to maintain user interest, and ensuring that every step in the user journey is compelling rather than just compact. Throughout, he utilizes diverse examples from companies like Argent and Dialect to illustrate these principles in action.

Practical Advice for Designing Web3 Products

Throughout his presentation, Phil offers pragmatic advice such as using interstitials to prepare users for complex actions, reframing points of friction as helpful to the user, and ensuring clear, focused, single-purpose interfaces. He demonstrates how simplifying the design process, giving first before asking from users, and reducing on-page complexity can significantly enhance the user experience, emphasizing examples from Solana’s ecosystem.

Facts + Figures

  • Airfoil has helped design products for over 150 companies within the Web3 space.
  • Bad design can lead users to dismiss cryptocurrency technologies, affecting adoption rates.
  • Design is less about art and more about psychology; understanding the users' mindset is key.
  • In Web3, communication should start with 'why,' to resonate more with users' psychology.
  • Providing engaging experiences through animations or thoughtful UI responses can keep users' interest alive.
  • Preparing users for complex steps can be achieved through interstitials that explain the benefits of those steps.
  • Simplified interfaces that focus on one action per page can reduce user overwhelm.
  • In Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, onboarding is often a journey, not just a single step.
  • By reframing the user’s effort as receiving something in return, you can encourage participation and retention.
  • User attention needs to be highly managed, focusing on clear, bold calls to action and minimizing distractions.

Top quotes

  • "Design is more about psychology. It’s about understanding our users."
  • "We've got to make sure to include steps to make sure that their feelings go up and improve."
  • "But when users have to turn to GitBooks to learn how to use their applications, they're not going to GitBook. They're going to YouTube."
  • "Starting with why means that our pitches will actually land and users will think that the products we're building are genuinely for them."
  • "Oftentimes, more steps is actually better, because onboarding should be compelling, not just compact."
  • "It's not for grifters. It's for builders. And it's for designers."

Questions Answered

What is the connection between design and blockchain technology adoption?

Good design is essential for blockchain technology adoption because it directly impacts the user's willingness and ability to use the technology. As Phil explained, designs that are human-centric, focusing on users’ needs and making complex technologies accessible, are more likely to be adopted widely.

Why is starting with 'why' important in user design?

As explained by Phil, starting with 'why' is crucial because it taps into the user's psychology and provides a compelling reason for their actions. By focusing on why users should care about a feature or product, it aligns the technology with their needs and motivations, leading to better engagement and adoption.

How can Web3 products handle onboarding complexity?

Web3 products can manage onboarding complexity by taking a step-by-step approach, adding in steps that educate, engage, and reassure users along the way. Phil suggests giving users a compelling journey that primes them about the benefits and keeps their excitement levels high, despite the learning curve.

Why should attention be managed in user interfaces?

Attention should be managed in user interfaces because users can easily become overwhelmed with information and choices. As Phil notes, focusing users’ attention on one task or choice at a time, with clear calls to action, reduces complexity and enhances the chances they will complete the desired action.

How should Web3 products deal with user fatigue or complexity?

To counter user fatigue or complexity, Phil advises using engaging animations and feedback, reframing barriers as benefits, preparing users with interstitials, and sometimes, paradoxically, adding steps to make the overall experience more compelling and less intimidating.