Current problems plaguing Web3 products and the role designers could play in tackling them
This attempts to narrow down key problems users face while interacting with web3 platforms and how designers can help solve those pain point
Before I attempt to explain the common problems plaguing the web3 scene and how product designers and the likes can help correct those flaw. I will like to break down what Web3 is all about.
Web3, also known as Web 3.0, refers to the next evolution of the internet. It's often used to describe a decentralized version of the internet, where users have more control over their data and online interactions.
Web3 is built on decentralized technologies such as blockchain, where data and information is distributed across a network of computers rather than being controlled by a single entity.
Web3 technologies have the potential to create new ways of interacting with the internet and with each other, such as decentralized apps (dApps), decentralized finance (DeFi), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These technologies are designed to be more transparent, secure and resistant to censorship, giving users more control over their own data and online activities.
Now that we have an inkling on what Web3 is all about. Let's dissect the current problems in the web3 space
- Security: this is a major concern in the Web3 space because many decentralized applications (dApps) and blockchain-based systems are built on new and untested technologies. As a result, they may have vulnerabilities that have not yet been discovered or that have not yet been addressed. There is lack of adequate information in Web3 at the moment which makes it difficult to detect and prevent security breaches leaving affected users with no recourse on how to go about it.
Web3 still being at its infancy means that many users as well as companies are not well-versed in the best practices needed to be taken in securing their assets, and as such, this is a big challenge that may lead to lack of trust in the technology.
Also, The anonymity of blockchain transactions makes it difficult to trace the source of a hack or breach, which can make it harder to prosecute those responsible and recover stolen assets.
And lastly, Smart contract can also be a security vulnerability. If the smart contract is not properly audited and tested, it may have exploitable bugs and vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors. This means that users are responsible for the security of their own assets and while a lot of the New entrants are not familiar with the web3 nuance, it could lead to a lack of trust in the technology and a reluctance to use it in order not to fall victim.
2. Usability: This is because the web3 technology is still relatively new, and the user experience (UX) of many decentralized applications (dApps) can be quite different from what users are accustomed to with traditional web applications.
Decentralized technologies like blockchain are inherently complex, which can make them difficult to understand and use for an average person . This can be a barrier to adoption, as users may be hesitant to engage with a technology they don't fully understand. It should also be noted that many dApps have a steep learning curve and their interfaces can be difficult for non-technical users to navigate. This can make it difficult for users to perform basic tasks, such as sending and receiving funds amongst other key tasks they can perform on Web3 platforms.
Also, There is currently no standardization among dApps, which can make it difficult for users to know what to expect when they use different applications. This can lead to confusion and frustration unlike Web2 platforms where users are already conversant with how certain layers are designed and what it means having been exposed to it for a long time.
Gas fee is also a problem having experienced this myself when I first started exploring NFTs. The cost of executing a transaction on the Ethereum network, can be a significant barrier for users, especially for small Transactions thereby making it difficult for users to understand and manage the costs associated with using dApps.
And lastly on the issue of usability, as users find their feet exploring the web3 possibilities, dApps may not have the same level of user feedback as traditional web2 applications, which can make it harder for developers to identify and address usability issues.
3. Scalability: decentralized applications (dApps) and blockchain-based systems are built on new and untested technologies that have not yet been optimized for large-scale usage citing the fact that Web3 is still at its infancy. Many existing blockchain systems have a limited capacity for the number of transactions they can handle per second leading to slow transaction speeds and high fees, which can be a deterrent for newbies.
It should be noted that many blockchain systems are resource-intensive, which means they require a large amount of computational power to function. This can make them expensive to run and less accessible for users with limited resources.
There is also an issue of limited data storage as the decentralized nature of blockchains means that all data is stored across the network, which can lead to limitations on the amount of data that can be stored on the blockchain.
4. Complexity: Web3 is built on a decentralized technology like blockchain and its inherent complexity can be quite difficult to grasp by users effectively serving as a barrier to mass adoption. The use of technical jargons and concepts that are specific to blockchain and decentralized systems doesn't help either as they make it difficult for non-technical users to understand how to use the technology.
Then there is also the need for users to manage their own private keys and seed phrases to access their assets can be overwhelming for many users, especially for those who are not familiar with the concept of private keys and seed phrases.
Also, The existence of multiple wallets that support different assets and tokens, can be confusing and overwhelming for users, especially for those who are not familiar with the different types of assets and tokens. Further efforts must be made to enlighten users on how they all work.
And lastly, The existence of different blockchain networks that are not connected to each other can make it difficult for users to interact with different assets and tokens across different networks. It should be noted that a user might also have to deal with different network protocols and different networks, which can make it hard to find a way to interact with them.
All these would make it difficult for users if concerted efforts aren't made to make it easy for them to find Web3 as a safe haven.
Designers can play a key role in addressing these challenges and help Web3 products and projects reach its full potential. Some of the ways designers can contribute are listed below:
- Creating intuitive and efficient interfaces that make it easy for users to perform basic tasks, such as sending and receiving funds.
- Educate users about how to interact with decentralized technologies by creating educational materials and tutorials.
- Standardizing components and interactions, they can help make the experience more consistent across different dApps.
- Designers can also help educate users about the scalability challenges facing the network, and how to interact with the network in a way that minimizes the load on the network.
- Designers can simplify the user interface and user flow, making it easy for users to understand and use the product. This can help to reduce the load on the network and make it more efficient as well as reduce the complexity of the technology and make it more accessible for users.
- Designers can work with developers to design data structures and storage solutions that are optimized for scalability. This can help to reduce the amount of data that needs to be stored on the blockchain, and make it more efficient.
- Designers can provide real-time feedback to users on the status of transactions and the current load on the network. This can help to manage user expectations and reduce the number of unnecessary transactions.
- Designers can also help in developing cost-effective solutions that users with limited resources can access, this can help to increase the reach of the product.
- Designers can work with developers to design and implement sharding solutions, where the data is broken down into smaller chunks and distributed across different nodes in the network, this will enable a more efficient distribution of data, and can increase the number of transactions the network can handle at once.
- Designers can work with developers to create secure wallet interfaces that make it easy for users to store, manage and transfer their assets. This can include designing interfaces that clearly show the user's assets and balances, and making it easy for users to confirm and approve transactions.
- Designers can also help incorporate multi-factor authentication (MFA) into the user interface, to ensure that only authorized users can access the user's assets. This can include designing interfaces for setting up and managing MFA, as well as incorporating biometric authentication options.
- Designers can create visual representations of security-related information, such as a user's transaction history and the status of their assets. This can help users to easily understand the security of their assets and make informed decisions.
- Designers can create educational materials and tutorials that help users understand the security risks associated with using Web3 products and the best practices for securing their assets.
- Designers should also ensure that the products they design comply with established security standards and best practices, such as OWASP Top 10 and NIST guidelines.
- Designers should have a security-first approach, this means, designing and implementing security measures as early as possible in the design process, this will increase the security of the product and make it more resilient to attacks.
- Designers can help break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand components, by creating clear and concise explanations of technical jargons which would in turn help users to understand the underlying technology better, and feel more confident in their ability to interact with it.
- Designers can work with developers to standardize the different components and interactions across different dApps, this can help to make the experience more consistent and predictable for users, reducing the cognitive load and making it less confusing.
- Designers can design interfaces that make it easy for users to discover and access the different features and functionalities of the product, this can help to reduce the complexity of the technology and make it more accessible for users.
- Designers can also incorporate gamification elements, such as rewards and achievements, to incentivize users to learn more about the technology and its features.
- Designers can also conduct user research to gather feedback from users which would help them understand pain points users out there are still facing in order to proffer a lasting solution that would make Web3 products accessible for all while being inclusive.
Keywords and their meaning
- Smart contract: This is a self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement written directly into lines of code. Smart contracts are designed to automatically execute the terms of the agreement when certain conditions are met.
- Decentralized apps (dApps): This is a software application that runs on a decentralized network, typically built on top of a blockchain platform. dApps have no central point of control, unlike traditional applications that rely on a centralized server. And as such, they can't be shut down or controlled by any one entity.
- Decentralized finance (DeFi): It aims to use blockchain technology and smart contracts to create decentralized and open financial services that can be accessed by anyone, regardless of their location or status. DeFi applications are built on blockchain networks such as Ethereum and they're accessible via decentralized apps (dApps) or web3 wallets. These apps and services use smart contracts to automate financial transactions, creating an open and transparent financial system that is not controlled by any single entity.
- Non-fungible tokens (NFT): This is a digital asset that represents ownership of a unique item or piece of content. NFTs are built on blockchain technology, which allows them to be tracked and verified as unique, non-interchangeable assets
- Sharding: This is a technique used to scale a database or a network by dividing it into smaller pieces called shards. Each shard is a separate, self-contained unit of data or processing power that can be managed and maintained independently.
- NIST: The National Institute of Standards and Technology is a non-regulatory federal agency within the United States Department of Commerce. In the field of information technology and cybersecurity, NIST plays an important role in developing standards, guidelines, and best practices that are widely used by organizations in the public and private sectors.
- OWASP: The Open Web Application Security Project is a non-profit organization that aims to improve the security of software and the internet. OWASP provides a wide range of resources and tools for developers, security professionals, and organizations to help them build more secure applications and to better protect against cyber threats.
- Seed phrase: also known as a recovery phrase, mnemonic phrase, or seed words, is a set of words that is used to recover or restore a wallet. A seed phrase is a backup of a wallet and it is a simple way to create a secure and easy to remember backup of a wallet, it is also used for account creation in some wallets. It is usually 12-24 words long, that is generated randomly and presented in the form of a list of words, which are usually in a specific order, and it is important that the order is not changed.
- MFA: Multi-Factor Authentication is a security measure that requires users to provide more than one form of identification to gain access to a system or service. This helps to ensure that only authorized users are able to access the system or service, by adding an extra layer of security beyond just a password.
- Gas fee: Also known as a transaction fee, is a small amount of cryptocurrency that is required to pay for the processing of a transaction on the blockchain network. Gas fees are typically paid in the native cryptocurrency of the blockchain network, such as Ether (ETH) on the Ethereum network. Gas fees are required to incentivize the miners, who process and validate the transactions on the blockchain network, to include a user's transaction in the next block that they mine. The more complex a transaction is, the more gas is required to process it.
- Blockchain: This is a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT) that uses a network of computers to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a number of transactions and a reference to the previous block, creating a chain of blocks that cannot be altered retroactively.
I'm a multidisciplinary designer well versed in curating delightful experience on web2 and Web3 platforms