Web3’s user experience (UX) has long been a topic of discussion with regards to its mainstream adoption. UX designers argued that while Web3 offered more control, it often felt clunky and complicated, likening driving a manual transmission car to the simplicity of an automatic. The irreversible nature of blockchain transactions, coupled with the absence of an “undo button,” makes mistakes costly and adds complexity.
0xDesigner, a leading Web3 UI/UX designer, points out that the wider population may not even prioritize the sovereignty offered by blockchain. They argue that for most users, the focus is on the simplicity and ease of use, which Web3 should provide. This poses a paradox for Web3 designers, as they need to strike a balance between simplifying the user experience and maintaining Web3’s core value proposition.
Thomas Ling, former UI designer for blockchain company Immutable and game studio Riot Games, explains that Web3’s emphasis on user ownership and control adds layers of complexity. While a Web2 application may only display one step out of several steps, a Web3 application must display the entire process for the user to achieve the desired action and maintain Web3 values.
Designers working on Web3 applications face limitations in creating intuitive interfaces because of this complexity. Ling stressed that design decisions often involve tradeoffs, whereby streamlining Web3 might require relinquishing some control from the user, undermining the essence of Web3.
Another issue highlighted by 0xDesigner is the lack of priority given to user experience in Web3 projects. Many product teams in this space are engineering-driven, resulting in more technically focused solutions. The high stakes involved in Web3, especially in financial applications, lead to a greater emphasis on security and error prevention, leaving less room for UX improvements.
However, 0xDesigner believes mass adoption of Web3 will occur when truly useful applications emerge, such as games and music. They argue that the main driver of adoption will be the app’s usability rather than its usability. Cryptocurrency applications should aim to be seamless and nearly invisible to users, integrating crypto behind the scenes without requiring any explicit knowledge.
While some argue that UX/UI is not a major barrier to long-term adoption, but rather unconnected social and regulatory factors, ongoing challenges to improving the Web3 user experience remain. As the Web3 ecosystem evolves, a balance between user control and simplicity must be struck to pave the way for widespread adoption and integration into everyday applications.