OG Council UX follow up


Hi, from the UX discussion that we had in AMS I got a feeling that we simply don’t know who our users are. Would anyone by interested in helping with Ethereum user survey?


Here is a summary of the session that I wrote from the notes on the whiteboard…

UX session notes - OG council, Amsterdam 2022-04-24

The session discussed UX in general. There is a “whiteboard note” that tried to capture some of the discussion, and I am attempting to decipher that here.

Questions / Topics:

What do we mean?

What we mean is trivially described as “making things simple”. Key questions we noted include:

  • Do users achieve what they want?
  • Do users achieve what we want them to achieve?
  • Are people spending time doing tasks that could be automated away?
  • Are people comfortable working with the system? More than with other alternatives?

What are the problems?

We identified a few barriers to usability:

  • Fear…
    • …of the consequences of a mistake. Web3 systems are unforgiving compared to e.g. bank accounts or credit cards
      • …of being embarrassed
  • Language and accessibility issues
    • Many systems are command line based, and often error messages are generic rather than informative, or are excessively “cryptic”.
      • The other major interface pattern is using Web apps. Here there is available knowledge and guidance on how to improve: WCAG, W3C’s i18n work, …
  • Technical issues:
    • Performance is unpredictable, but also there is rarely feedback on how long things take, how they are progressing…
      • Errors are obscure (see above: accessibility and language issues)

Better UX examples

  • Uniswap
  • Grid+
  • Pryzm
  • POAP
  • Dappnode
  • Wallets (but with the caveat that they aren’t generally great UX)
  • “point and click” interfaces
    • These can be built with Web technology for which there is significant work avaialable on how to provide better user experience
    • but there is a concern that these can hide problems, or make security properties hard to discover.

Worse UX examples

  • Ethereum clients
    • Essentially Eth1 / Execution clients
      • Command Line is not how people usually operate software in this century
  • Being surprised at fees for multiple transactions
  • Trying to run a node, and interact with it from other applications

Why UX matters

  • There are alternative platforms. If they are easier to work with, they will attract capital, projects, mindshare, and developers that would otherwise consider the Ethereum ecosystem as a natural home.
  • Provides confidence in the ecosystem, which in turn encourages investment and the creation of a larger community of developers in a “virtuous circle” - a feedback loop that encourages growth of the ecosystem.
  • It’s necessary to achieve the often-claimed goals of enabling decentralisation and improving democratisation
  • It can help people understand security better, and so make fewer mistakes.

So, what next?

  • We encourage people to publish the results of research into usability in our space.
  • It would be nice to see simplified interfaces that provide all the information a user needs to complete an action (i.e. they won’t be surprised halfway through), and does not require them to manually do things that are unnecessary.
  • It would be nice to have more “easy entry simulations” - e.g. going through the process of a transaction, or of adding a contract to a network, without incurring the costs of it happening “for real”

And here is a picture of the whiteboard at the end:

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Thank you for summarizing it. I think that anyone interested in Ethereum’s UX will find these notes interesting and helpful.

Regarding the user survey (or maybe better “community survey”), I’m happy to announce that a team has gathered and will soon start working on making it happen. Of course, anyone interested in helping can still join us.

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Excellent! How do people join? What do you have as starting material, plan, …? (I’m looking for stuff written that we can share - beyond even this forum, e.g. in translation)

Right now people join by giving me their e-mail address :slight_smile: But we will for sure setup some kind of IM channel/forum/mailing list. We have some draft documents: rules (how to ask the questions, what not to ask, privacy, etc.), question ideas and a list of organizations that could have done UX research in the past (we want to contact them). I imagine that when these drafts are finalized and become internal set of guidelines for the team, we make them all public.