Embracing Web3 with Arnold Syphommarath, UX/UI Strategist at MDL

Posted on Dec 19, 2022

Embracing Web3 with Arnold Syphommarath, UX/UI Strategist at MDL
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Disclaimer: This article shares thoughts and experiences from one of our UX designers in designing for crypto & Web3 products over the years. YOU are responsible for the safety of your funds, tokens, and assets. This should not be taken as financial or custodial advice, and we recommend that you consult with a financial advisor. 

How I Got Into Web3 

I was already interested in crypto and had been for some time, but it wasn't until watching videos from Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) that I became truly fascinated with Web3. His talk on the future of NFTs really got me hooked - he talks a lot about self improvement, technology, and investment opportunities which resonated greatly with my interests as well! That's how this all started; I was already collecting toys, comics, and trading cards. So, I found myself drawn towards the NFT space and now here we are today...

As a UX/UI Designer and Strategist, I realized Web3 has the potential to completely change how we do things. For example, it can change everyday things like the way we travel, how we buy movie tickets etc.. So getting to design for the future keeps things exciting. 

web3 pandora's box with tokens, NFTs, money, btc and eth coming out of the box on a mottled green background

Learning and Platforms  

I learned the most on Twitter since a lot of people in Web3 use the space. Once you follow some Web3 influencers, or interact with certain accounts, it's easy to immerse yourself in the topic. Apart from Twitter, each Web3 Community has their own discord and so diving in there as well was a big part of my learning. (Discord has always been around, but has embraced Web3 and was always in the gaming community - and now used with gamefi. It makes a lot of sense because it’s anonymous.) 

The platforms I use the most are: topaz.so, magic eden, opensea, and foundation.app. It is fun seeing communities form in these spaces. I am also interested in the concept of selling art in Web3 and seeing its paper trail. Being able to own a particular asset, token, or collectible that allows you to do things in the world is really cool. The ability to be a part of certain communities based on what you own is a unique aspect of the space that I can really see taking off and might be a great way to encourage more users to get involved - specifically in subject matter or art they are inspired by. 

Barriers to Entry for Web3 

The biggest challenge in Web3 right now is the changing market and seeing what sticks (with the mass onboarding of users). A lot of people are building really fast and seeing what sticks and what can be improved this way. Since everything is also evolving really fast, designs have to be done quickly. There are things that were around 6 months ago or a year ago that are no longer. 

I have also found accessibility as a barrier to people adopting. The terminology can be confusing to Web2 natives and getting people to embrace new technology goes against human nature and the status quo. Security is also a huge barrier and this is something that causes challenges. There seems to be hesitation to use crypto wallets. There have been lots of horror stories in the media, but this is the case in Web2 arguably just as much as Web3.

How UX Design Differs in Web3

In transitioning to Web3, as a UX Designer, it is easy to be lost in what everyone wants and forget about the Users. It is important to be mindful of coming off as too ‘Web3’ or ‘flashy’ or ‘gamefi’, while still being approachable to all users in the space. It's important to make sure everyone aligns despite different tastes.  

I have found that Web3 usability testing differs a lot from Web2. For example, if we want to test the concept of getting up a Web3 wallet or crypto wallet, there's a whole other experience and process flow that we can’t include in the user test. We have to give more information and context to the users who are testing. In testing Web3 concepts with Web2 users, the users are shocked that you can do x, y, or z since it's a foreign concept to them. The users might therefore feel like they missed a step, so we have to be clear about any Web3 processes that occur before or after the experience we are testing for. 

images depicting user testing with people and stages of product development on a mottled purple background

User Testing a Web3 Wallet

When user testing something like a Web3 wallet we use Figma prototypes and have real people review the chrome extension. We use both individuals who are new to Web3 and those that are currently in the space. The three objectives we would focus on are creating an account, sending assets flow and review of the collectibles and inbox experience. This allows us to get real time feedback on everything from global elements, to simple actions (like copying addresses etc).

Learning About Gamefi and Other Blockchain Ecosystems

As a Web3 UX/UI designer who may want to learn more about gamefi, I would definitely begin by exploring discord. Besides joining a discord community for web3 games, the best way to learn the next generation of gaming is to simply start playing. Specifically popular play-to-earn games like Axie, Infinity,  Decentraland, and Sandbox. The Web3 game community follows a play-to-earn model (featuring smart contracts built on the blockchain).  You are the owner of the digital items you earn while playing. This feels like an improvement from the pay-to-play model of Web2. If I were to join as someone who is a gamer in Web2, it would be a very natural transition and likely an improved experience. 

The Best Thing About Working in Web3

Right now there are not a lot of designers, marketers, people in operations etc. that focus solely on Web3 but there is definitely a need to fill these roles. The future of work in Web3 seems like more remote work, more freedom, and more opportunities to work on products that designers truly love and ones they are excited about. I heard a stat recently that by 2025 ~70% of the workforce will be remote for at least a certain amount of days every month. 

The Future

There are solutions out there that bridge the gap between Web2 and Web3, like crossmint, where you can buy an NFT using a credit card and it will be sent to your email. This is good because now there are more ways to get Web2 users in the door. These Web2.5-type solutions are exciting and it will be nice to see more of this. It looks like we might have more options where you can login using both Web2 and Web3 functionality on an app. It's tricky because with Web3 you don’t want to give away your identity and a big focus is anonymity. In both Web2 and Web3 there are a spectrum of users. It will be interesting to see how Web2 and Web3 continue to evolve.

There is something very exciting about uncertainty. It's like watching a movie, movies would be boring if we knew how they ended. Embracing the uncertainty is definitely exciting.

About the Author: 

Arnold Syphommarath is a senior UX strategist with over 9 years of experience in the design field. He has a passion for playing basketball and collecting toys. When he's not working or being active, Arnold enjoys designing templates and creating helpful resources for other designers.

Twitter: @ArnoldSypho

Website: https://arnold.super.site/

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