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Right now, blockchain and cryptocurrency have a two-minute rule problem: they are too complicated for most users to completely change their habits and integrate Web3 into their daily lives.
The two-minute rule was created by productivity consultant and author David Allen, who stated that it should take less than two minutes for anyone starting a new habit. Not only is Web3 a complicated concept, but the product designs are lacking – remember MS-DOS, anyone? – and require multiple steps to complete transactions. Speaking at his opening address at Circle Converge 2022 in San Francisco, the stablecoin issuer’s chairman and CEO, Jeremy Allaire, noted, “Users don’t need to know what chain they’re on or what stablecoin they’re using, they just need to know it’s a frictionless interaction.”
This user experience (UX) challenge goes all the way to communication. Currently, blockchain companies are determined to tell every detail about their technology as if they were talking to another technologist, putting the average person to sleep quickly. These barriers create far more friction than most users are willing to put up with, ensuring a high rate of attrition.
I worked tirelessly on language simplification when I was a journalist, writing on a complicated, niche subject for a mass audience: the wine trade. I constantly edited my pieces to strike a literary balance between creating new cutting-edge narratives and keeping the language and concepts recognizable so that readers would be inspired to try the wines I wrote about. I took these lessons to my communications company, Man of the World Media, where my day-to-day activities are filled with constantly refining customers’ messaging so that it accurately conveys the highlights of their products without losing potential users along the way.
Here are three ways to simplify a Web3 company’s messaging so it accurately explains its product, all while driving adoption.
1. Use clear language to improve UX
Pursuing the UX is ultimately what will entice the next billion users to adopt blockchain technology, and this is where the industry needs to do most of the work. The Crypto Research and Design Lab (CRADL), whose vision is to advocate for a human-centric Web3 for all, has just released a comprehensive report called UX in cryptocurrency. CRADL cooperates with the World Economic Forum Crypto impact and sustainability accelerator (CISA) to “shift the crypto industry from technology-centric to people-centric.” At my company, I keep this in mind when advising on Web3 customer branding and positioning. For some target groups, especially initiated groups and investors, it is important to delve deeper into the technology. However, I really challenge founders when it comes to B2C branding, where I think it’s much more important to clearly explain what the product does than to describe the underlying technology.
So far, the biggest success story in Web3 has been NFTs, and there’s no bigger catalyst for this than Well taken care of Labsthat the NBA summit Shot phenomenon. Looking around the Top Shot website, none of the traditional Web3 words – blockchain, cryptocurrency or even NFT – are entirely by design. Dapper is more interested in users understanding that they can fully own a digital collectible belonging to their favorite player rather than trying to wax poetic about the virtues of NFTs, crypto, blockchain, custodial, and other industry vernacular. Their numbers match: According to Dapper’s site, Top Shot has 1.5 million users, over 20 million marketplace transactions, and an astonishing $1 billion in transactions. By being recognizable and explaining the experience in plain English, they show how simple language can lead to more activity.
2. Explore known and unknown pain points
Another technique I use with clients is building out pain points to illustrate new opportunities created by their blockchain products.
For example, if a company uses NFTs to create partial ownership of art, homes, etc., I’ll start by outlining the problem: “It’s hard to buy art at auction unless you have a lot of money. But now everyone can be a collector and art owner. How? Using NFTs on the Blockchain to Create Fractional Ownership! NFTs are…” This elegantly sets up a realistic, familiar scenario that can put one in a mindset that is receptive to learning.
There’s also the bigger conversation about data ownership and how Web3 tools put that back in the hands of users. It is true that most people want this: A study conducted by BritePool and the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations found that nearly 90% of respondents would select the “Don’t Sell” option if they encountered it on a website.
However, this is often too big a concept for non-Web3 users, and the current way builders talk about it is beyond them. Instead of giving the 30,000 foot view of why people shouldn’t share their data blindly, break it down into bite-sized concepts. Start by explaining that using a Web3 wallet to connect to a web page allows the person to make a final decision about what data to share or not to share.
Then go ahead and explain the new possibilities this approach to their data brings. Explain that they can now make money from it, in the same way as big internet companies, and keep the money. Or they can have multiple wallets with different personal information and create multiple digital identities. As wallets become more seamless experiences, the relatable sound bites that communication teams use will play a huge role throughout the adoption process.
3. Tell stories that highlight real Web3 capabilities
Web3 builders toss around concepts like decentralization, privacy, and data ownership. This misses the point for most people. Users want to know what your product means to them, not every detail that goes into making the product. I tell my customers: customers don’t want to know how the sausage is made; they just want to know it’s delicious. That’s why I challenge customers to be explicit about what their product means to end users, and not expect customers to infer use cases based on the underlying technology.
Instead of a game company telling gamers that it is now deploying NFTs, it should explicitly explain to gamers that they now have full ownership of the assets they pick up while playing. But don’t stop there. Give gamers examples of what that actually means: they can now save and own in-game purchases, transfer assets to additional supported games, or sell them to other players. This language more clearly articulates the qualities that make owning an NFT a better user experience without losing users in jargon.
If a platform offers cryptocurrency instead of made-up rewards, explain to recipients that they own these rewards as if they were in their own bank account. They can spend them however they want or even convert them into cash. Remind users that while centralized rewards depreciate or expire at the whim of publishers, these new benefits are under their full control and not subject to those practices.
Peter Weltman is a storyteller who founded the strategic communications company Man of the World Media in San Francisco.
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