March 9, 2022

UX Challenges In Blockchain

Sidrah Abdullah

UX Researcher

Ever wonder why users are reluctant to move towards blockchain despite it being the next big thing? What stops a person from adopting these applications? Why is the interaction with these applications not delightful? Will the potential of blockchain increase with the improvement in user experience? 

Fret no more! This article will provide in-depth guidance on the significant UX challenges in blockchain, and how UX designers can overcome them to enrich user experiences!

With the development of Metaverse, more and more businesses are shifting towards blockchain-based business models. Previously, cryptocurrency companies could afford to skip the extensive UX research processes as it was still a developing field – an unchartered territory. However, that is not the case anymore. Since cryptocurrency is rapidly replacing fiat currency and spreading all over the world, user experience in cryptocurrency applications has become a crucial factor. 

At this juncture, it is crucial to understand that user experience in DeFi applications is relatively tough. Hence, UX designers need to re-consider the design practices for blockchain-based applications. Therefore, a DeFi product should not only enrich the user experience with a delightful and frictionless design but also educate a novice user about blockchain. So, let’s look at major UX challenges. 

Consistency in Design

The number one UX rule is to maintain the same visual experience throughout the application. Since DeFi UX is still a UX design, it is crucial to maintain the mental model of the user as stated in Jakob’s law. Digital products are judged by their design and experience, hence, consistency in design is a major UX challenge in blockchain applications. Visual consistency and presentation of an app must be strictly maintained so that application users do not have to waste a lot of time figuring out what each icon might mean. It is especially true for blockchain products. 

UX designers must ensure that users have a comfortable experience while interacting with the product. What happens if we suddenly change the functionality of the Spacebar and Backspace key? The user’s frustration would reach its peak as they are forced to learn a new mental model. Therefore UX designers should keep the design consistency as well behavioral consistency in the blockchain-based applications to match the non-blockchain existing products. 

Trust, Transparency, and Credibility

Designing for trust is the prime factor in blockchain UX. It is also a big UX challenge for blockchain experience designers. Since blockchain use cases exist in almost all scenarios including healthcare and e-commerce, the application requires a certain level of trust from the users. As a novel technology with a huge learning curve for users, designers and developers need to be more vigilant in building the trust process when onboarding the users on their applications.

Similarly, blockchain applications should have clear and consistent transparency. Users need to know what their application can do for them, and that there is no hidden information or loopholes. Mapping their journey transparently from the initiation till the validation of transaction, for instance, is critical for building trust. With blockchain applications, monetary aspects like transaction fees, date, time, and status should be transparent in the context of their action.

Hence, UX designers should ensure transparent feedback to establish the credibility of a blockchain application. In addition, the information should be discoverable for the retention and building of trust. No opaque intentions!

Technical Jargons

“Mining”, “yielding”, “farming” and “seed phrase” are some of the jargon that is difficult to describe to novice users. As crypto application users, we want to be sure about every state of the transaction, and not the underlying technology. It is like going to the bank to withdraw money, but not being interested in its operations and management. Also, this learning curve raises a wall between users and their experiences and decreases the usability of the system. 

It is crucial to design experiences with proper documentation and FAQs. Hence, the solution is to choose carefully crafted words to build a rapport between novice users and veterans empathetically. Also, this could be more effective if the terms are standardized in the crypto industry to help users have a consistent experience across different cryptocurrency applications. After all, the aim is to empower users to use crypto products without having to memorize their dictionaries first. 

Cumbersome Transaction and Cost

Transaction speed and cost – albeit being a technology issue – are equally cumbersome for UX designers. This challenge is the most frustrating to design and equality frustrating for users. Most blockchain networks have 2-6 second transaction processing time, and this is very boring for the average user as they are used to 0.4 second computer response time. In addition, depending on the network, transactions can exceed up to a few minutes, and honestly, nobody likes waiting for approx 5 minutes just to pay for their coffee. 

Similarly, transaction fees concerning each network could vary. And this issue should be communicated clearly to the user before the transaction is executed. Therefore, the possible solution for UX designers is to communicate transaction states and costs as clearly as possible to the user. Faster and scalable blockchain products would also help with this issue. 

So what is the take-away? Blockchain is an emerging technology and it is on everybody’s radar, as UX designers, we play an important role in building experiences for the users and bringing its value upfront. It all comes to designing for the user, and not the technology. In conclusion, consideration, consistency, credibility, and clarity in user experience design will help in tackling the UX challenges in the blockchain. 

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