While most of blockchain and Ethereum in particular, developers only focus on building and testing their DApps, they often forget the end users or customers. That means, they underestimate the importance of UI/UX and governance in their product commercialization and success. To that end, this article sheds more lights on best practices for successfully building Ethereum based on User Interface (UI)/User Experience (UX) and governance.
UI/UX, usability, and design thinking for blockchain DApps
This is a mouthful. The truth is, in order to gain widespread adoption of Ethereum and cryptocurrency, there’s much to be done by the Ethereum and blockchain community to improve the usability of the technology, tools, and user experience of DApps.
Cryptocurrency may be a hot topic in the blockchain community and crypto-investor circle, but to the average Joe, the concept of Bitcoin or crypto-token is too foreign to understand. What they heard or saw is a bunch of magic alphanumeric characters.
Those characters seem to make no true connection to their own daily life. It is something like 1BQhEut2E4XmYm53Qt614NbrhBvuCoyxVc in their crypto-wallets, with a final balance of 10.0005 BTC. It is hard to fathom how much I have actually owned, how much profit I gained from this trade, and how much I paid for a cup of coffee.
UI, UX, and usability is the collective name for the user experience design. It is an experience design process of taking a user-centric approach to products and services, with a focus on usability, accessibility, and desirability throughout the entire journey and interaction with end users. It intends to design a product with the goal of creating an attachment, satisfaction, and stickiness with end users.
The usability and UI/UX of DApps will greatly influence the adoption rates of Ethereum, blockchain, and cryptocurrency. The UI’s design goal is to come up an intuitive and clean design to hide all the complexity of DApps. It needs to navigate the user through complex business processes and create trust and confidence between the machine and network. Typically, it also involves streamlining and redesigning the traditional business process and coming up with new digital experience processes. One common technique that’s used in user experience design is the design thinking process. It is a five-stage process that was developed by Stanford University.
The preceding five-stage process is as follows:
1. Starting with empathy, it gets to know the users and understand their needs while gathering information about the targeted users.
2. It then comes up with a problem definition and tries to make sense of the user.
3. Once you have defined the problem statement, during stage 3, you can start to anticipate the user’s expectation and come up with solutions and ideas.
4. The last two stages in the design thinking process are to come up with a prototype as a scaled-down version of the final design and test the new product and design with the users, and then refine and improve the design and user experience.
It has been an effective approach for defining innovative products and services. Those of you who are skeptical should try it out for yourself.
It is also worthwhile mentioning that Ethereum product development and execution should be accompanied by a business plan with a thought-through commercialization plan. Indeed, factors such as content marketing or choice of UI layout should take into consideration for effective and successful execution of a Ethereum product.
Best practice for Ethereum governance
Good governance is at the heart of any successful business or organization. A good governance framework defines the decision-making process upfront. It has a clear definition of roles and responsibilities in the decision process, defines what decision influences the common objectives, and specifies how the decision outcome is disseminated and tracked. Typically, in a well-run business entity, IT governance is one of the key components of enterprise governance, which governs IT decision-making and investment directions.
The governance process plays a key role in blockchain and Ethereum development. It has three aspects of the decision and governance process. One is like the IT governance process, that is, to have a process to define the future vision, goals, and objectives of the network. In particular, like Ethereum, it is still at the earlier stage of development and so it requires good governance and a decision process to define the future roadmap, as well as shepherd the community to the future. Another one is operations and economic governance, which governs the economic and monetary policies and decisions that are made on the Ethereum network. The third one is DApp and crypto-token governance, which are typically done by the owners themselves, but depends on the underlying platform governance from the other two.
In general, we can categorize Ethereum governance into on-chain and off-chain governance. On-chain governance refers to the decision process that leverages the network and code for voting or decision-making. Off-chain governance refers to a blockchain improvement or operations decision that’s made outside the network, usually manually. The decision can be made through a centralized decision authority or in a totally de-central approach.
Although it seems a bit nebulous, Ethereum employs a decentralized off-chain approach for Ethereum platform governance. It is quite effective, according to Vitalik. EIPs are the main avenue for anyone to propose the improvement proposal, and through community voting, they will be prioritized and get assigned to someone to implement. There is some undercurrent that may challenge the current governance model and quite a few contentions in certain Ethereum decisions, but largely, the community is aligned when it comes to major development decisions, especially when it comes to scaling solutions.