I think it's also one of the biggest things holding cryptocurrencies back right now. It's not easy, but it could be a lot easier, even the main bitcoin website is pretty bad at helping users understand how bitcoin works and what they are supposed to do to get started.
I've been into cryptocurrencies since 2014 and I don't feel like I've gotten past the tip of the iceberg, I cannot imagine how daunting it probably feels to my parents...
Some people are doing a good job, like for example Coinbase. But the majority of the ecosystem needs to change in order to raise adoption. I think this will happen as a natural step of the process, and this is great news for all of us Designers.
Every time I send crypto to a new address and enter a long string of letters and numbers I have a mini heart attack thinking I spelled it wrong and my money will be gone forever.
Whichever crypto succeeds will be the one that does away with hashed addresses in favor of mapping addresses to user-readable display names and sending cash in more sensible "chunks" than 0.00004683 BTC.
Especially if it becomes a widely-used currency in the future. Am I going to buy a box of tissues for .00000000000000000234223 BTC?
Bonus point if the cashier is able to see your wallet’s ballance.
Luckily there are QR codes in a lot of places already. But yes, many wallets make you type or copy/paste addresses, which is also always a source of stress. I've been working with the Monero team and tried to get user-readable names for addresses, but one of the problems is that the blockchain doesn't have any way to store those names. They are always only stored in the local wallet, so those names wouldn't sync. Just one of those areas where decentralization makes things a little more difficult.
For making it more pleasant to enter and display those dreaded addresses, I put some thoughts together recently over here.
Lots of work to be done, for sure.
I'm not sure you are going to see much interest from the broader design community until cryptocurrencies do something other than get traded in an attempt to get money.
Sure Ether is meant to run dapps, but does anyone here actually use a dapp on a regular basis for anything? If you aren't in the cryptocurrency world can you even name one?
CB Insights just released a report on Coinbase's success. One of the reasons is the user experience of their products. While their app became #1 on the app-store, none of its competitors got even close to that. This is the reason why everyone else will have to focus on UX in order to bring the platforms closer to the masses.
The report can be found here: https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/coinbase-strategy-teardown/
To clarify, as a designer I don't care about cryptocurrencies except in terms of abstract idealism or fears about the future in terms of what could happen to money, but as a designer I find the technology of the blockchain fascinating in its potential.
The exciting future is decentralized and secure systems for voting and other social systems that currently rely on poorly managed central systems.
From my experience with the Monero team, and going to meet ups, the people in the industry are super excited when a designers shows up and has some interest in the area. So if you are interested in the field, you have a ton of learning to do, but you might also find it much easier to get into than other area.
That sounds like a good challenge. Do you have any pointers? Who should I talk to?
My entry into this was that I just redesigned (really just restyled) the Monero wallet for fun and posted it on Reddit (here's the thread). The community liked it and a developer reached out to me and said he wanted to implement it. If you have an area you'd like to contribute to, that approach can work well.
I've also just shown up at crypto meetups, started talking to people, and ended up with multiple offers to help with projects. I'm genuinely curious about the field, so that was not some preconceived sales technique.
What I've also seen is people joining the Telegram or Discord channels of coins they like and just offering their help.
Crypto is all about community. So it's probably best if you look around a bit, find a coin or area that's of interest to you, and poke around the community a bit.
One of the harder parts about working in open-source is that everybody is basically just volunteering their time, people are spread out across the world. It can be freeing, but you also need to be OK with less structure. As a designer, you very much depend on others to implement things, and need to be very pro-active. Coming from an agency and freelance background, I'm also still getting used to that.
I'm also still learning and figuring these things out, but it really feels like a breath of fresh air overall. Even just having all my Sketch files and design files in a Github repo where everybody can improve them and use them if they want to, is a nice, new experience.
Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Given the examples listed, it does seem that user interface is not a priority at this point. However, it might still be a long road before companies start to fully adopt cryptos and start giving attention to anything other than minimum functionality, given some of the latest news that mention how some big players like Microsoft are dropping out of crypto payments. I agree that it is something worth considering in any case.
That might be the case. But even yesterday, a venture heavily backed up by Goldman Sachs (which has being rejecting crypto), acquired one of the largest crypt exchanges.
The big players are putting their money not where there mouth is.