The thought of designing for web3 can be daunting for folks who are unfamiliar with the space. For most newcomers, it can feel like an entirely new language.
How is web3 different from web2? What is the blockchain? What exactly is an NFT?!
I recently made the leap from my role as a product designer for a web2 company, to working on a web3 project — a trajectory becoming more and more common. Before I was able to dive into design work, I had a lot of learning to do, and fast.
I went from minimal knowledge of the crypto space, to designing a new web3 product in just a few weeks. I learned a few things during this process that I hope will be helpful for anyone looking to do the same.
Why designers should care about web3
Let’s start by talking about the “why”. Why should product designers care about web3? The benefits of web3 range from allowing creators to truly own their own work, to creating a more equitable financial model. However, what excited me the most about this space that I had yet to learn, was the potential for education.
Remembering the “why” of crypto only energized my efforts to learn more and contribute to the community.
Blockchain technology has the opportunity to provide high quality, accessible education and career opportunities across the world. To explain this further, I will highlight proofoflearn as an example. Proofoflearn, led by the founder of Care.com, is leveraging a learn-to-earn protocol that allows users from all over the world to learn employable skills and gain professional on-chain credentials.
“The company’s vision is to ensure that anyone with an internet connection can gain a world-class online education, as well as direct access to income-earning opportunities and employment via its careers marketplace.” — Read more here
In my experience, remembering the “why” of crypto only energized my efforts to learn more and contribute to the community.
Start with the basics
When starting a new design role in web3, it may be tempting to jump right in and start exploring various dApps (decentralized applications that run on the blockchain). When I tried diving headfirst, I got very overwhelmed. If you are new to the world of crypto in general, as I was when I started this role, I highly recommend taking some time to learn common vocab before you start exploring. Even something as simple as having a few new definitions in your back pocket (i.e. DeFi, Gas, Mint, etc.) will give you a bit more context and will make the verbiage feel less foreign.
A helpful resource for learning the basics of web3 is the Odyssey DAO newsletter. They send digestible content that covers everything from DeFi, Ethereum, and NFTs, to setting up your first wallet. You can also leverage the knowledge base on their website for more in-depth learnings. I found this hugely useful in understanding how the ecosystem works and it allowed me to start feeling more equipped to design a product of my own.
Leverage your position as a newbie
As I began exploring the world of web3 and dApps, all I could see was what I didn’t know and what I still had to learn. However, looking back, I now see my fresh eyes as an advantage. A lot of the web3 landscape has been designed by engineers, for engineers. While this is not inherently a bad thing, it does mean a lot of the verbiage can be hard to understand for people just starting out.
Web3 newbies have an advantage when it comes to designing accessible onboarding flows or creating copy for a simple and easy to grasp error message.
I recommend that you take notes when navigating through web3 products for the first time. What language is confusing to you? What flows aren’t inherently obvious? As your knowledge of the web3 space and vocab grows, you will quickly forget how little you understood when you first started. Referring back to your notes will help guide you when designing accessible onboarding flows or creating copy for a simple and easy to grasp error message.
Go for it!
The jump to web3 may seem overwhelming at first, but it is made easier by a welcoming community and tons of helpful resources. Designers have a great opportunity to come in and solve complicated but exciting UX issues, and make dApps accessible to all.