[Bit]coin flipping: Top 5 UX challenges in the Bitcoin ecosystem
If you had the chance to read Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, you probably know by now that Bitcoin’s UX is a nightmare. Let’s dissect the challenges and find out if this digital currency is bound to be a hot mess.
Bitcoin UX design is a mess: All the words, metaphors, paradigms are wrong and internally inconsistent. Coin, wallet, key, address… etc
— Andreas (@aantonop) November 14, 2013
This pretty much sums up Bitcoin’s UX experience, but some claim the challenges are not that easy to overcome. Let’s dissect Bitcoin’s UX problems and find out if this digital currency is bound to be a hot mess. First, there’s wallets and addresses and keys and QR codes which breed confusion; second, there’s the price volatility which breeds chaos every time a Brexit or something equally important occurs. Many early adopters of Bitcoin say that this digital currency is a great UX makeover away from going mainstream, but that theory is yet to be put into practice.
Bitcoin UX challenge #1
Cryptography is not the easiest thing to understand, and since Bitcoin breathes cryptography, it is rather hard to make it appealing to the masses. If one cannot understand Bitcoin and/or blockchain, one is unlikely to give it a try, which is why some people call it the Linux of money. Missed opportunity right there!
Bitcoin UX challenge #2
There is nothing less appealing than a name (or in this case an address) which only contains numbers. A Bitcoin address, the identifier of 26-35 alphanumeric characters, beginning with the number
3, that represents a possible destination for a bitcoin payment, has no flavor whatsoever.
Bitcoin UX challenge #3
Legitimacy continues to be more or less the reason why Bitcoin has not gone mainstream just yet. Governments’ position towards people buying and selling bitcoins is still unclear and while discussions have started in several countries, a consensus has not been reached. Taxes represent the other side of the coin and even though some companies offer their employees the option to be paid in bitcoins, there are not many willing to gamble away their salaries.
Bitcoin UX challenge #4
When some people hear about Bitcoin, their first reaction is: What can I do with bitcoins? Are Bitcoins spendable or not? What can you buy with your digital coins and where to find shops that accept this kind of payment? Knowing whether Bitcoins are truly spendable will not only increase adoption, but also boost confidence and transparency.
Bitcoin UX challenge #5
Bitcoin exchanges spring up like mushrooms after the rain as the likes of Coinbase and Bitstamp lure disbelievers with their polished appearance and promises. And then there’s BTC-e, which looks completely unappealing. UX is a story, but Bitcoin exchanges (no matter their appearance) look cold; it’s like walking into a bank. End of story.