Published 20th April 2020
UX Challenges in Blockchain
At Sequence, we're more excited than anybody about the integration of Blockchain technology across the world, however, as UX specialists we understand how Blockchain can present an entirely new set of challenges.
Ledgers, Hash Functions, Keys, Nodes, Forking. All these Blockchain terms could be completely alien to most web users. We need to think carefully about how we simplify these terms for users and create experiences where we don’t overwhelm users with complex terminology.
As UX Designers we must be also consistent with Blockchain language across all products, this will ensure users start to understand the language associated with Blockchain. Users should be able to use multiple Blockchain products, without having to learn a new set of vocabulary.
Blockchain doesn’t come with an Undo button. As Blockchain is a distributed network, once users’ data is added to the Blockchain it can’t just be deleted or removed, as there is no centralised point from where it can be deleted from. This means that any mistakes that users make are displayed for the world to see.
From a UX perspective, we need to ensure that users are confident that the data they are going to submit to the Blockchain is correct, this could include the use of validation to ensure that data is in the correct format before it’s uploaded to the Blockchain.
We’ve all forgotten a password before, users understand that if they forget a password they can simply click the ‘forgot password link and reset it. However, with Blockchain forgetting your key is a big deal, as there is no reset.
We need to ensure users are aware of the importance of keeping their key in a secure and safe place, this could even mean users also storing a physical copy of their key hidden in their house or flat.
It is equally important that users also remember the differences between the different keys they have. Users are given both a public and a private key, the public key needs to be shared to receive on the Blockchain network, however, the private key essentially works as a password.
As product developers and UX specialists, we need to ensure that users know and remember the difference between the two keys.
As internet users we have become impatient, we expect messages, money, bookings, and data to be sent instantly, and expect almost simulations feedback. However, with the decentralised Blockchain network, validation is required from another user in a process called ‘Mining’ or ‘Forging’ (Proof of Stake). A users’ data will not be added to the Blockchain until this block has been validated, making instant feedback impossible.
When developing Blockchain products we need to make users aware that they will have to wait for their data to be validated, and that there is no definitive amount of time that the process will take. We also need to ensure that our products allow users to complete other tasks in this time, to streamline the process and keep users engaged.
Users understand conventions, green means go, red means stop, and so on. As UX specialists and designers it’s our job to uphold conventions while being creative. Allowing users to use products instinctively.
However, with Blockchain, these conventions are yet to be developed. This is because most users have very limited exposure to Blockchain products, therefore they don’t have traditional expectations about how these products should behave and be designed.
Therefore, to solve these new UX challenges, we need to collaborate as Blockchain specialists to create consistent Blockchain solutions and build valuable experiences for users.