User Experience Improvements - Reducing Friction - Providing Convenience

WARNING - LONG RANT :slight_smile:

I saw this X post by Goldkey and I thought i had to get something off my chest that I had been breweing for a while.

IMHO the crypto space attracts a certain psychological profile of people who have an intuitive understanding of the tech or are actual devs, are very much risk inclined, and are willing to go through as many steps as necessary in order to get in early, no matter how painful or tedious they are, because they understand the financial opportunity and the threat of the incumbent enslaving monetary system.
They are super enthusiast about the game theory and all the factors that affect the tokenomics of their favourite product/projects.
They want to see every possible metric all at once on the front ends…

I hate to break it to you but the vast majority of no coiners are NOT like that at all.
They do not care about all the cool stuff that crypto people like to circle jerk on.

I see many people in the space who are stuck in their little echo chamber and they believe that just because THEY can put up with so many steps just to buy a token, other people can.
I’ve heard twitter spaces hosts being condescending with people asking genuine noob questions, telling them “go read the contract, dude. If you don’t get it I don’t know how to help you” :man_facepalming:
I’ve seen others claiming that ‘visual learners’ do not count :roll_eyes:

We can do better.
The first thing to do is step outside the techie mindset and try to empathise with the end user, accept that they will not be enthusiast about the same things as us. We should accept that and we should not make them feel inferior.
There is no glory in showing off your technical knowledge about the subject if you don’t make the other person’s life easier.

It’s already a challenge to make them understand how they’re getting screwed by the fractional reserve banking system. I always try to explain that, hoping that it gives people a sense of urgency (fear). But frankly that goes over their heads most of the time too, so the only thing they get is that they can make a lot of money (greed).

But again, they’re not like us!
They are forgetful… volatile… lazy…
So we need to capture them quickly! In the moment!
Once people buy (if they’re not gamblers) they tend to stay committed and will be more motivated to learn about the other nuances of the system later. They’re hooked.

The competition understands this very very well. They make it as easy as possible to get people in the door. Look at CEX and Robin Hood, or Etoro.
Don’t you think that if governments want to ensnare as many people as possible in a CBDC system, they would make it as convenient as possible, by leveraging any study on human/machine interaction and psychology they can?

Of course I am not suggesting that we should be just as disingenuous as them or give up security. Unfortunately for us, they do not have to solve any trustlessness or decentralization problem. They can offer customer service and retrieve your funds. They are not gatekept, they are not under censorship attacks. And you cannot beat a bait like Universal Basic Income.

It is a difficult challenge and an uphill battle. So it’s even more important to do what’s in our control to improve the UX and reduce the necessary steps to get in the system to a minimum.

In the world of VFX/CGI I work in, I learned that artists who are very visual and cannot code, most of the time are forced to work with bleeding edge software that may have bugs and a pipeline that doesn’t automatise certain processes of the production. But they have to meet deadlines and so they are willing to adapt and develop habits around the shortcomings of the system.
Then some artist who’s more technical comes along who has an intimate knowledge of the workflow ( knows what are the repetitive steps that can be made automatic or hidden under the hood) and decides to make tools and templates to reduce the technical setup times to near zero so that the artists can actually spend their time doing what they do best: output creative material.

If the tools are designed well enough and provide convenience, and make the work/life balance of the artists better, then it’s a success and people will not want to give them up.

Once people have had a taste of convenience, they will never want to go backwards.

I like to try and apply that analogy to UX in crypto swapping the visual artist with the nocoiner. Where artists needs effective simple tools that allow to be creative in the moment, the nocoiner should be able to buy on a whim when they are in the right emotional state. One step too much and you might lose them.

This post is already way too long but I would like to conclude with a more practical proposal. I would like this thread to be a collection of pragmatic ideas on how we can reduce these steps and how we can make UIs simpler. I’ll start with a few points.

  • what are recurring steps that have to be performed every time someone has to sign up in a fresh wallet and buy HEX/PLS/PLSX?

  • which of those steps do not depend on other third parties and are purely technical in nature? Can they be omitted and hidden under the hood and made automatic?

  • what information should we withhold in order to not overwhelm the non techie person and speedup the process? Is it dishonest to do so? not necessarily.

  • should the OA be mentioned?

  • why not hiding an aggregator like Piteas ( I do not have a bag) under the UI so that everybody gets the best rate when buying on Pulsechain but it still feels part of the official front end and they do not have to learn yet another website? if people want it to be explicit that it is Piteas because they hold their token, I don’t care, sorry. It doesn’t conduce to the seamless user experience.

  • Is it really necessary to keep ALL the info and metrics about HEX on a front end for beginners? IMHO it is not. We can provide a super basic UI with just the essentials so that people are not overwhelmed. Buying and staking hex only for example. A second screen for expert users can be provided where they can play with all the derivatives, but it should not be the default UI. Less is more. Give the user only the essential bits they can wrap their heads around, so they feel they are in control. Then they can go deeper in the rabbit hole later. I can see took this compartmentalised approach for example.

  • I know that most of you would like to remind people that with their stakes they get all their other perks like HDRN and COM for total intellectual honesty. But this only adds complexity and is intimidating, not our goal. if I really had to include these, I would make an automatic process that can mint them with every end-stake , but asks the user first if they want to do so and pay the additional fees. When the user gets the popup they might want to learn what they are later.

  • we got to explore lApps and see if they are safe etc.

If the first part of the post triggered you, don’t bother replying please. :laughing:

Everybody who wants to contribute with practical descriptive suggestions… please chime in. Let’s compile a list of all the steps you find annoying.
Also let’s try to visualise how a nocoiner would go through the tools/options we currently have and what can be made easier and if some steps cannot be skipped, why?

NO MEME COINS PLEASE, everything should look/feel as official as possible.

Interesting rant. Your “ask the user first” approach is my go-to solution in such situations. Gatekeep the rabbit hole, as it were. :wink:

By now you may have seen Goldkey’s X post about Liquity’s approach. What do you think of it as a solution to the issue?

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I wouldn’t say “ask the user first” is really what I mean. rather the opposite.

In my experience, you cannot allow everything the user wants. You have to design the UI and organise the features in a way that prevents the most clueless user to make bad mistakes or using the tools improperly. This is only possible when whoever designs the tools has an intimate understanding of what really matters when you want to go from A to B, because they have done it 10000 times before.

In my job it is easy for me to do, because i’ve done the process so many times that i know what is actually needed of the user to do and hide everything else in a black box. I make the choice for them because I am the more expert senior user myself!
it’s like designing assembly line automation.
Yet when i present the new tools to the users there is always somebody who wants an extra feature, but I try to debate why it is really needed and i try to predict what problems it might imply in the future. If the users get carried away and abuse the tools i give them, then it is ultimately my responsibility to fix the problem and i don’t want to deal with it.

Unfortunately in crypto we are not able to fully to identify what steps really do not require control from the user all the time, because we are still discovering what we can do with it. We haven’t figured out the ultimate formula. So we keep our options open for every single detail instead of simplifying. Dealing with people’s money and irreversible transactions is the hardest thing.
The fact that every few months someone comes up with another token “to build upon hex” or “help adoption” it doesn’t help either. People who are desperate in the bear market jump on these new coins accumulating big bags and will try to find every possible rationalisation as to why people should buy them and will want them included in whatever portfolio tracker or front end comes out.

I also think the most basic users do not even want to be able to make a choice. Look at banking apps on your phone. Do you believe all the bank customers are constantly giving feedback about the UX? No. They simply accept them and develop habits around them. Because they don’t know any better. Or they just trust the system and want it to make decisions for them. Some UIs are even designed to condition the user behaviour. Corporations might do it with a malicious agenda, but we can take the same principle and use it to condition users to stay safe in the system.

“But… But HexRockstar!! We should educate people :scream: !!!”
Again, I am not saying we have to withhold information or custody people’s funds. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t feel guilty or dishonest about hiding most of the details if it achieves the goal of onboarding the majority of people. We can still keep an advanced section of the UI for the power users who want to dive deeper.

Hence my suggestion above for example, about still giving basic users all the staking ‘perks’ they are entitle to, like HDRN and COM, but just make it look like a surprise and mint them automatically for them if they chose to spend the gas fees. They can learn what those are later. But you can avoid explaining them altogether until the ‘surprise’ makes them curious.

In regards to your question about lApps. I need to study better what they are about but you’ll see i reposted GoldKeys tweet as soon as it came out.
I think it is a massive improvement. hopefully it will make installing apps feel more like installing phone apps from the Appstore . Everything that helps with crafting an image of officiality around the tools is very important and it can circumvent the IPFS problem (which it turns out not to be really censorship resistant). Of course there needs to be an organisation of volunteers in the community who curates the release of these apps so that users can have the confidence that the software is secure.

People will complain that it has to be trustless, that people need to learn how to do a checksum to verify that the binary of the app is the same as the official release so they don’t have to trust who releases them… but look, we have to approach this in layers of difficulty. Appease the techies with solid safe verifiable front end code and then you build upon that creating the simplified versions for the rookies.

I like to tell another analogy i like, from the music gear world.
I like to build my own guitar tube amplifiers because I like to chase the sound of my idols and i like to add as many features as possible to my builds. But if I had to sell that amplifier as a product it will be a complete failure because musicians who actually spend time playing the bloody guitar they just want something that fucking works and sounds amazing at the twist of one knob. Set and forget and go with it. Focus on the music. Leave the rest to the engineer.

Option Paralysis is a real thing!

Your posts deserve lots of eyeballs - I like the way you’re approaching this stuff enough that I wanted to add my footnotes too.

In my experience, making choices about what users can or cannot see and do always pleases some and infuriates others. No matter what one does in life - somebody won’t like it. Thus, I learned always to try to make everything available, but definitely not all in a single heap of features. I like something analogous to a “Quick Start Guide”, “Users’ Manual”, and “Geeks Only” approach to documentation, where the user makes the choice.

I started thinking along these lines after running an experiment a long time ago that got interesting counter-intuitive results. Subjects ran an “expert system” to advise them what car to buy (I replicated it later with other high-end consumer purchases). Some subjects reached their recommendation very quickly, in, say, five questions. Others had to answer many more questions to reach their recommendation. The empirical quality of the recommendations was the same for all subjects. What changed was that for the fast group the remaining questions were sorted after each answer so that the next question answered would split the remaining candidate set in half - a dynamic binary search. The slow-answer subjects were just asked the questions in an arbitrary order until only the “best” candidate remained.

The surprise was that subjects much preferred the slow, ponderous method to reach the exact same conclusion. I speculate that because they were contemplating spending a lot of money, they needed to feel that they had done some serious work to arrive at the best candidate.

After a few such surprises, I stopped trying to imagine what users would want and instead tried to give them every imaginable choice - unobtrusively, of course.

I very much agree with your Option Paralysis point. I think someone studied it formally, comparing choice time at Howard Johnson’s in the 28-flavour era vs. the usual choc/strawb/vanilla offerings elsewhere. Richard Feynman wrote about streamlining his own dessert choice because of option paralysis, so you’re in good company. :wink:

The trick imho is to offer the choice at the very moment the user is thinking “I wish I could see more/less of this stuff” rather than making the user plod through a menu of choices at a bad time.

As for IApps, I’m not sure what to make of it yet and I’m looking forward to seeing more opinions. My first thought was that Bad Guys would surely write faux versions to catch the unwary, but maybe that’s been addressed.