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Someone, Please, Make Crypto Exchanges Simple!

Liam Kelly
Last updated: | 4 min read

A user-friendly makeover might encourage more people to join the crypto world.

Just as the internet moved from being highly technical in its terminology and design to a place for everyday people, the crypto world is in desperate need of a user-friendly makeover.

This tweet from investor Arianna Simpson rings true for most of the crypto world:

“I’m still trying to figure out how to withdraw from several exchanges after months!” responded Jameson Lopp, software engineer at BitGo, a Blockchain security company, and “professional cypherpunk”.

The string of responses to the tweet range from strong accordance to advice that Simpson check out the Coinbase crypto exchange, which is “the only one that looks halfway decent and actually works.”

The frustration is clear, but what exactly is being done about it?

In many cases what you sacrifice for security and usability is aesthetics, perhaps in the case of the Bitcoin Core wallet. Conversely, Coinbase could be critiqued for its lack of features and user command, yet it has become one of the major wallets since 2017 because of its ease-of-use.

Developers are challenged, too spoke with long-time developer Gary Rowe, the blockchain expert behind the MultiBit and HD wallets. He pointed out that developers are also challenged “in trying to get a desktop application to work across Windows, OSX and Linux operating systems.”

If you have experimented with both desktop and mobile extensions, then Rowe would conclude that you may have enjoyed very different experiences, with the mobile interface being typically smoother.

Ultimately, developers are forced to compromise “in the choice of visual components and features so that each user gets the same UX across all installations. Most desktop developers are not designers so the UI/UX is often crude or confusing.”

According to Rowe, great user experience follows as soon as these two components are combined.

So, in the same way that engineers may not be the most skilled in describing their technology, desktop developers may need the helping hand of interface designers.

This skill set, however, may not even be necessary, as Rowe concludes: “I think the Core team will not make any large changes to the software any time soon. As shown by the various forks that occurred in 2017 it is very, very hard to get the Bitcoin community to agree upon a particular course of action.”

Good products sell themselves also spoke with another up-and-coming developer, Zita Collins, whose background in business development and data science puts her within arm’s reach of this sector.

Collins astutely pointed out that “good products sell themselves,” and more importantly, “As more people start to work on improving the infrastructure of blockchain, merchant awareness and the standardizing of the UI across the majority, if not all, wallets and payment systems, [it would] help to minimize the current steep re-learning curve drastically.”

The developer also iterated some of the points made by Rowe regarding different interfaces across different platforms: “The awkwardness of having to learn and remember the unique operating requirements of several wallets and/processing systems undoubtedly deters a significant percentage of people who may have thought of acquiring cryptocurrencies, only to become frustrated and sit on the sidelines watching for a near overhaul of this space.”

Just getting a qualified engineer to copy and paste a client’s financial product also may fall short of results. Identifying a user audience and then establishing industry standards in order to attract users, or in the case of fintech persuade users to leave traditional banks, is also part of the equation.

In a recent article by design agency UXDA, they suggested that financial service architects explore “the principles of creating products in the gaming industry. They are not only usable but have a pleasing and seductive design that is an actual challenge for all of us in financial UX engineering.”

New entrants to the market are looking to get in on cryptocurrencies, but the rise of users has also brought forth a swell of bugs, glitches and faults. As Rowe, Simpson and Collins all pointed out, there is massive demand for a mainstream crypto polish. With massive demand, comes massive bankrolls, and in that mix a diamond of innovation or a stroke of genius is sure to be found.


Bonus Challenge:
As Bitcoin’s popularity has risen alongside its price, new entrants to the market are scrambling to catch up. But as the non-technical community begins flooding the market, there arises an educational divide as to what they are getting into. Or, rather, what they think they’re getting into.
In a talk by Bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos, he outlines some of the faulty vocabulary that surrounds Bitcoin in particular. Let’s take the “wallet”. Antonopoulos claims that a “keychain” would be a much more accurate description of how a crypto wallet really works.
When we think of a wallet, we think of a fine leather pocket that holds our money and credit cards. But when we extend this metaphor to current methods of managing cryptocurrencies, we fall short of what is really happening.
A user’s digital assets are not kept in a wallet, but on the respective network. Bitcoins are stored on the Bitcoin network, ether on the Ethereum network, and so on.