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Web3 UX Is Broken

Can we fix it in time to onboard the next million users?

In the early days of a technological revolution early adopters who precede the early majority work tirelessly to poke holes in the new technology– hoping eventually to see an ecosystem bloom into a new series of problems solved, and potentially a better life for all who engage with this new tech. In this case we’re talking about blockchain technology, and how the user experience might be improved to allow for more day-to-day problems to be solved, and thus a greater user-base.

The following is a conversation recorded live with host Humpty Calderon and several web3 builders on Twitter Spaces celebrating Ontology’s Mainnet Anniversary. Guests included key figures from Ontology, iZUMi Finance, Alchemy Pay, Nuvo, and Cred Protocol

For the full conversation you can listen to the recording here.

Illustration of web 3 UX broken into thousands of difficult to navigate pieces (Midjourney)

L1 and L2 growth is in part driven by the scramble to be the first or most eloquent to solve the blockchain trilemma. So far in an attempt to be decentralized, secure, and scalable, every participant has had to sacrifice at least one of these to one degree or another. This forge forward to ease the trilemma has brought myriad companies into the arena to compete, and each has its own unique additions to the space with regards to the products built and features developed.

Who’s to say where we actually are within the cycle, but if innovation has been occurring for a decade and early adoption is happening now, what are the main hurdles holding back the early majority?

On-ramps. In order for most to partake in the self-custody wonderland that is the blockchain world by exchanging fiat for crypto or vice-versa, one must interact with centralized exchanges. Which exchange is viable for whom and where is subject to legislative changes through time and location, which can be a confusing muddle to navigate as a first-time user. Or as a veteran user, to be frank. Not only can these exchanges be a bit difficult to navigate at first, but they’re also fully centralized and don’t automatically allow the users the famous self-custody for which blockchain tech is so famously known. Not to mention this is most users’ first stop, so if it’s in any manner confusing or less than simple, it can provide a significant friction point and might null their curiosity for many more years.

Wallets. The entire experience using any self-custody wallet is unintuitive at best, and though they solve a lot of problems we find in traditional finance, they carry with them their own unique set of struggles. Differentiating the public and private key and managing the safe storage & recall of the seed phrase are concepts completely foreign to anyone previously using a mobile banking app. The repercussions if one loses the seed phrase or sends the private key instead of public to a potential threat or public chat are far greater and more permanent at the moment than if one gets a debit card stolen that’s linked to an FDIC insured checking account. In fact, the reality that there are repercussions at all make this burgeoning tech all the scarier.

Trading. If one wants to use a decentralized mechanism to trade, the transaction costs and slippage make for less predictable and inherently less profitable trading, not to mention that most users in most jurisdictions cannot buy cryptocurrency using fiat currency from directly within a DEX, requiring an extra stop at least.

With friction points so bountiful, what’s to be done? Web3 tools need to be as easy to use– no, easier to use– than web2 tools. There need to be obvious and undeniably safer, faster, and less expensive than the conventional means of completing analogous tasks. Ontology helps to solve these issues by taking a developer-first approach. This allows many developers and groups such as Orange Protocol to build and facilitate DID solutions for credit-scoring revolving around safe methods of storing and exposing relevant amounts of personal data for a variety of purposes, such as undercollateralized loans– a service previously only available to the TradFi world. In order to coax users into adopting this tech, products need to be built that justify the level of trust and attention previously given to more conventional methods. 

We’ll get there as time goes on with the help of long-standing and persistent thought-leaders who will not accept a series of products and services that don’t excel in every way over their predecessors. The web3 tools we see in their current infancy will slowly but surely replace the others we use in our daily web2 lives, increasing the value we can extract from the tech and add to our lives. Let’s go.

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