The current state of Web3 user experience is akin to driving a manual transmission car — there’s more control, but most users will find it unnecessarily clunky, according to several UX designers.
Over the years, discussion around mainstream adoption of Web3 has centered around the need to improve crypto’s user experience and “ease of use.”
However, in a July 12 Twitter post, Web3 UI/UX designer “0xDesigner” argued that certain properties of blockchain make it challenging to build easy-to-use Web2-like applications.
Web2 vs Web3 UX
I was asked by a reporter from a crypto publication about the disparity between web2 and web3 UX. It’s a meaningful line of questioning that isn’t covered enough. So I’m going to share some half-baked thoughts in hopes that it triggers more discourse.
— 0xDesigner (@0xDesigner) July 12, 2023
According to 0XDesigner, the one of the main issues with cryptocurrency applications is that every action is “irreversible” — there’s no “undo button” on the blockchain and mistakes are expensive. They added:
“Think of it this way: Web2 is like driving an automatic car. It’s straightforward; you get in, press the pedal, and off you go. Web3, on the other hand, is more like driving stick.
“You need to understand the gears, the clutch, and constantly monitor the tachometer otherwise you’ll damage the transmission or stall the car,” they added.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, 0xDesigner argued most of the “broader population” may not even care about the sovereignty (control and ownership) that blockchain offers.
The Web3 UX paradox
Thomas Ling, a former UI designer for blockchain tech firm Immutable and Web2 gaming studio Riot Games told Cointelegraph that UI is typically more simple in Web2 because with Web3, ownership and control are vested with the user.
While this makes Web3 unique, it adds more complications on the backend, Ling explained:
“Where a Web2 app may only need to show 1 step out of 5, a Web3 app needs to show all 5 in order for a User to achieve an action and retain the value proposition of Web3.”
Because of this, Web3 UI/ UX designers are “limited” in the way that they can make “magic” happen in creating an easy-to-use application, explained Ling.
Got me thinking about UX/UI in crypto, oh and GM pic.twitter.com/ayEIbWQPDg
— irena (@irena_clarke) July 4, 2023
Ling said this is particularly challenging when product teams are faced with making design decisions with tradeoffs:
“It’s a bit of a paradox — by making Web3 flows simpler, we have to take away some control from the User, which starts to take away from the point of Web3.”
0xDesigner believes another problem lies in the lack of priority given to user experience in Web3 projects.
“From what I’ve seen, most product teams are engineering driven. The designer to developer ratios are lower than in web2. That usually results in more technical solutions.”
This could be because of the high stakes in Web3, especially regarding financial applications, meaning that more staff will be focused on security and error prevention.
0xDesigner believes mass adoption of Web3 will come when there’s a truly useful application of it, like gaming and music.
“The adoption problem is usefulness first, not usability. It needs to be a good game, or good music. I don’t think it will matter that it’s web3.”
Cryptocurrency applications should also “feel invisible,” they added.
“I think the next crypto cycle will be driven by consumer apps that are powered by crypto, but users won’t know it’s crypto unless they look closely.”
In a contrasting view, Messari CEO Ryan Selkis downplayed the problem of UX/UI on adoption during a July 11 Twitter Spaces.
— Messari (@MessariCrypto) July 11, 2023
“The wallets are fine, there’s definitely some things to be desired […] but it’s really a lot of the off-chain, social and regulatory things that cloud long term adoption.