When you text your friends, do you really understand how WhatsApp or Telegram works? Probably not, because text messaging has been built to be simple, useful, and quick for everyone to pick up. You are never faced with the complex infrastructure which lies behind those apps, just a polished, easy-to-use interface.
But what about decentralized apps (dApps)? Do you think about the underlying technology, or do you just see the interface? The answer isn't so clear in this case, but it isn’t your fault. Often decentralized apps are built with complex interfaces that demand a knowledge of the underlying blockchain technology.
Many blockchain apps don’t match the UX standards of conventional consumer-focused apps.
While researching common UX pitfalls in blockchain apps, we realized how few free resources are available to start blockchain projects' design process.
For projects outside the blockchain space, designers and developers have an endless supply of UX/UI resources (like the ones found at designnotes.co). There's a whole world of resources for finding inspiration or UX best practices for nearly every niche app, website, or product. The opposite is true for the blockchain space — where we couldn't find anything similar.
Blockchain is a technically complex subject that is still in its infancy. So, most of the discussion on Blockchain user experiences occurs within developers' circles on platforms like GitHub, where seasoned UX designers rarely visit. The problem we see is that UX designers often have not been a part of the design, development, and problem-solving process of many blockchain applications. We are going to change this.
To make blockchain more accessible to everyone, there needs to be an open innovation process that facilitates discussions between developers and designers. By including designers in the development process of decentralized apps and providing a better starting point for common UX challenges in blockchain, we will improve the overall user experience of blockchain applications.
That's why we’re building NeueUX: to make blockchain for everyone.
NeueUX is an open-source platform that provides design resources and discusses common design patterns in a decentralized industry.
Industry Problems & Our Proposition
Generally, it’s not easy to start working in the blockchain space, especially from a non-technical direction.
There are no dedicated platforms for discussions about the interface and user experience of blockchain apps. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many user experience designers who have broken into this field. Also, there are no platforms offering blockchain-specific design resources, like there are for other industries. This is exacerbated by the fact that most UX discussions in the blockchain space are held at a very high technical level that few designers will be able to follow. This creates a significant barrier to entry that most designers are not willing to surmount.
Many blockchain startups have to start their design process from scratch because of the barriers to entry for designers in blockchain. Startups are often without people who possess the necessary design experience to make strong UX decisions and have few freely available design resources at their disposal. Even if designers or design-savvy developers are in a blockchain company, their daily work process is likely to be slower than necessary because of the lack of design resources and standardized design patterns to draw upon.
These problems have caused the relatively poor UX that most blockchains have, despite the industry’s rapid maturation in recent years.
We believe many of these problems could be mitigated by a platform that offers the following resources:
- Blockchain UX case studies (e.g.)
- Simple explanations of blockchain basics
- To help designers understand blockchain and also for designers and developers to use as explanations in their app.
- Blockchain UX best practices
- Collection of screenshots of popular blockchain applications (e.g.)
- Includes grouping these screenshots into blockchain-specific user flows.
- Blockchain specific iconography (e.g.)
- Blockchain specific illustrations (e.g.)
- Blockchain UI kit (e.g.)
- Interviews with designers working in blockchain (e.g.)
- Blockchain UX/UI specific news
These resources should make it easier for designers to work in the blockchain space. NeueUX provides a strong starting point to learn about design issues in blockchain and offers resources that make the daily work of designing blockchain applications easier and faster. This won’t just simplify designers' design process — developers will also benefit from this platform because they can discover the best (UX) practices and directly incorporate them into their applications. When NeueUX gets enough traction, it will spread awareness and enable discussion about common design patterns in a decentralized industry.
We received a grant from Moloch DAO to build this platform and create its first content, which we will gradually release in the upcoming weeks. We will continue producing content for NeueUX; however, our goal for the future is to become a decentralized platform supported by community-created content. Therefore, we backed a content contribution system directly into the site, which you can already check out here. If you are more comfortable with GitHub, you can also contribute content through GitHub pull-requests.
In the next couple of months, we hope to see this platform’s content library grow and together drive the inclusion of more people into the design and development process of blockchain apps forward!