Crypto doesn't have a UX problem
When boomers (millennials) try to solve problems zoomers don't care about.
UX is most often cited as the common barrier to crypto “mainstream adoption”.
The litany goes something like this:
Gas fees are weird and unintuitive “what is MATIC anyway?”.
Non-human readable addresses are weird and intuitive “what is this 0x.. string anyway?”.
Private key management is weird and intuitive “what are these 12 words anyway?”
Using so many different chains is weird an intuitive “what is this Arbitrum place anyway?”
Each of these is a worthwhile problem to solve. However, I think their importance as an actual barrier to mainstream adoption is vastly overstated.
The common phrasing being “abstracting away the complexities of crypto”.
Boomers solving zoomer problems
I sometimes wonder if we (say 28+ years old, I’m 29) are the boomers solving UX problems we imagine are real, but ones more technologically savvy younger people don’t care about.
With the mentality of a good product manager at one of the FANG companies, we’re all about simplifying the UX.
However, if this was the early-2000s, imagine what such a product manager would be saying about emails:
People are never going to understand this “@” sign thing.
Why is there a .com or a .org at the end?
Why can users choose any arbitrary email? How do you know you are even emailing the right person if their name is Bob Smith?
What’s the “Gmail” part? Why does everyone need to know the service provider?
If email had been less popular to start, combined with the sensibilities of a modern tech product manager, we’d have a thousand product managers marginally improving products without making a dent in usage.
While these can be considered UX problems in the absence of adoption:
The younger generation didn’t give a shit.
The older generation learned what an “@” sign is.
Plenty of people learned how to send tokens to sketchy addresses that started “0x..” when they thought they could make money trading shitcoins on Binance.
I’m sure if there’s a super fun crypto game that 13 to 17-year-olds are jumping into, literally everyone will figure out these issues in a week.
Crypto does have a UX problem, but also not really.
If the technology is useful enough — i.e. it’s fun enough or the economic incentive to use it is enough, UX problems aren’t real UX problems.
The UX hurdles that are touted as the biggest, aren’t that big in my opinion. Learning about chains, bridges, and gas fees, isn’t a lift for a certain generation if they are motivated to do so — and the rest will be forced to learn because of it.
Crypto’s deeper problem isn’t UX, it’s that it is not useful enough.
That’s OK to admit and the good part about software like crypto is that it only improves and is likely to overcome that threshold of “general usefulness” at some point. The technology is there already in some small pockets — e.g. for international transfers via stablecoins.
A crypto winter doesn’t impact the rate of progress. If you look at the most popular applications (by TVL or any other ranking), note how many of them were built with a small budget (Uniswap, Aave, etc.). There’s no correlation between investor appetite and progress as far as I can tell.
My prediction is that if/when crypto hits the mainstream, it will still have plenty of weird UX issues that would be considered detrimental if organic adoption didn’t hide them.
The problems listed above will be smoothed out but I don’t consider them true barriers to adoption. If each was solved perfectly tomorrow, I don’t think we’d have that many more users.
What solves adoption is either (i) fun or (ii) economics:
A crypto-native game that attracts organic usage.
A safe way of generating competitive yields on USD.
(biggest caveat with key management, which is the most uncomfortable part for even OGs)
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I've taught general computing at university (first year). 90% of the room didn't know how to do a Google search, the difference between Google and the internet, what a .png was, what cci in a mail meant, etc etc.
There's a reason FAANG dumb down their UIs, and there's a reason apps like Tik Tok and Snapchat have been very popular among zoomers. This generation does computing on their phones, which have simple, efficient, but not very empowering UIs. Hence, yeah, if you want adoption from those, you need a lot of abstraction.
If you think Tik Tok is wrong and shouldn't spend dozens of millions on UI/UX designs, feel free to tell them, I'm sure they'll be very interested in saving a lot of cash.
"I sometimes wonder if we (say 28+ years old, I’m 29) are the boomers solving UX problems we imagine are real, but ones more technologically savvy younger people don’t care about.
With the mentality of a good product manager at one of the FANG companies, we’re all about simplifying the UX."
I'm 23 and my two younger brothers are 21 and 17 -- none of us have ever had issues navigating crypto tools. For the internet-native, digital assets are pretty intuitive tbh.