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It is impossible to ignore that crypto has endured a tough, trying year. We have seen Bitcoin and Ethereum collapse in price, exchanges suffering shutdowns due to market volatility, hiring freezes, job losses and company valuations slashed. The pain in the market has been very real and has emboldened Web3 skepticism about the industry’s future.
The argument by those who consider Web3 nothing more than hype is that this year, Web3 has been found wanting — that it lacks the infrastructure and mainstream use cases needed to influence the future of the internet in the ways it claims it can and will. However, when I listen to those attacking the legitimacy of Web3 based on the current market, I cannot help but hear echoes of the same claims put forward following the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2000.
Yes, this year in crypto has been hard. But no, Web3 is not going away. Not all tech stocks have melted down, not all projects have hit the wall, and despite the downturn, Web3 companies are still managing to raise funds. I would argue that the market collapse managed only to kill off the weaker Web3 projects and that the fundamentals of blockchain adoption, user expansion and new use cases remain unchanged.
What I feel has held Web3 back is what holds most internet projects back: bad user experiences (UX) and poor user interfaces (UI). These elements play an essential role in the success of any application, and below I outline why this is where the industry needs to focus if we are to onboard the next billion users to Web3.
Related: The World Of Web3: A Beginner’s Guide To A Space That’s Set To Change The World As The Internet Once Did
What is holding back Web3?
If you have used blockchain applications before, you will know that most of them rely on users opening a wallet to be authenticated. Users that have been in the space longer already have those wallets set up. But for newcomers, setting up a wallet and adding a browser extension can be complicated. Unfortunately, most blockchain applications are just not that user-friendly. Given that user-friendliness is integral to mainstream adoption, what should we be doing?
Well, we know that traditional users are familiar with email and social media logins. This is the preferred option when signing up for a new app, rather than creating a separate account. So, we can say with some confidence that offering these signup and login options into blockchain applications ought to enhance the user experience, making it simpler, easier, more effective and more efficient.
Related: Usability First: Why You Should Pay Attention To User Experience
The path to mainstream adoption starts with great design
There is a simple fact all developers should keep in mind: Good design is vital to mainstream adoption. It is no good pretending otherwise. If the UI alienates users, and if the UX frustrates them, then we can kiss adoption goodbye. As a developer, I know that when it comes to products, whether users accept them or reject them, is down to you. So, my advice is: Design with the user in mind. If a product looks good and is easy to use, people will integrate it into their daily lives. If it isn’t, they won’t. That is really what it comes down to. Make it good, and make it accessible.
The other aspect I would say should be central to the design process is trust. As I mentioned above, there remains a lot of skepticism surrounding Web3, so developers should be designing with transparency in mind. When thinking about new users, we have to accept that many of them will be taking a step into the unknown and that not all of what they have read or heard is likely to be good. So, blockchain applications should be big, bold and upfront with their security measures, including how transactions are made and monitored.
Our aim as developers is to make the world of blockchain applications feel safe and familiar to newcomers. And if we are successful in achieving this aim, then mass adoption by hundreds of thousands, millions, and eventually, billions of users is within our grasp.
Related: What All Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Web3
So, what comes next?
Right now, Web3 still exists on the fringes of the mainstream. That’s neither a bad thing nor a commentary on whether it will ultimately break through. We forget that the adoption of the internet itself took some time. Most people either don’t understand blockchain, its adoption, use cases or what a decentralized internet can really offer. This is to be expected. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and the infrastructure of Web2 is very well-established and entrenched within our daily lives. That’s also something that’s not going away soon.
The next thing we need to do is design for ease of use. Assume nothing about our users, and focus only on the human experience. We must design with simplicity, trust and transparency top of mind. If we do that, Web3 will move from the fringes to the mainstream in no time at all.
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