5 Pain Points around Blockchain UX and how to Solve Themby Maria Taylor

The funny thing about blockchain is that everyone’s excited about it, yet no one knows enough about it to have a real conversation. Innovators and early adopters are taking advantage of blockchain technology because they were inspired to learn about this technology and anticipate the wide-ranging opportunities, but blockchain is definitely not mainstream yet.

Right now, the most prevalent use case for the blockchain is crypto-currencies and crypto-currency transactions. But, there are many other potential use cases as well such as smart contracts, medical records, financial contracts, legal documentation, and real estate transactions. When you need something to be auditable in terms of the chain of custody, change management, and modifications, blockchain can provide a legacy of who changed what, when, and why. Blockchain provides a truly decentralized and democratic look at data, data security and ownership, and privacy.

Some have suggested that when it comes to the blockchain and “design” there is no “there” there.  However, once your application of the blockchain begins to build a legacy of data, you’ll need tools that are well-suited to analyze it. That is where the bulk of the UX design work is going to take place. How can you look at the blockchain data and understand it in meaningful ways? Here are some of our thoughts about the UX pain points with blockchain how good design principles can be applied to this technology.

Pain Points around Blockchain UX


  1. Blockchain = the Unknown – We’re still at a stage where everyone’s talking about blockchain, but it’s not well-defined enough in a generally applicable way. There’s a steep learning curve for people to really grab hold of this concept and know how to utilize it – and as a result purchase services related to it.
  2. Blockchain has own “Geek Speak” – Blockchain comes with a whole array of technical geek-speak associated with it, and that’s an extra hurdle for people. You essentially must learn the language and adopt the way people talk about blockchain.
  3. Technical Innovators are generally not UX inclined – Blockchain is being driven by innovators and the early adopters, who are very technical people. With solutions being developed from an innovative technical framework, the user experience is not naturally a part that process. That tends to produce more difficult experiences for end users; the experience is not packaged up in a way that people can easily consume.
  4. “Norms” are Different with Blockchain – There are some concepts in blockchain that are very different from other standards that are norms today on the web. For instance, it’s normal that you can reset your password if you forget it, or that you can go back and undo something. But the concept of the blockchain is an audit trail, so you can’t go and recover a password if you don’t remember it and you can’t “undo.” You only have one chance – that’s it. The concepts of reset and undo are so well ingrained in people’s behavior today, it will be a challenge to make it clear to users that these functions are not applicable in blockchain applications.
  5. Trust is a huge issue – People need to know that a blockchain solution is trustworthy and is benefiting them. Most applications will deal with highly sensitive information because the things people want to audit – health records, the flow of money, or anything else they’re trying to protect with the blockchain – is something that is protection-worthy.  Therefore, there is an extra level of trust that needs to be imbued into whatever solution is created.

UX Solutions for Blockchain

At Limina, we’ve discussed a wide range of solutions, or UX fixes, that can help with blockchain applications. They are interrelated so that some of the solutions address more than one pain point.

  1. Leverage UX best practices for using plain language – Use language that’s familiar to the user instead of adopting new jargon that’s familiar to the technology.
  2. Be consistent – It’s also important to implement some of the other basics like consistent user experience, consistent use of colors, icons and visual language, so the user is comfortable with the experience.
  3. Build Trust – If you have a UX that feels different in different sections, it automatically starts creating distrust because you don’t know why the software developer did that. Is it intentional, was it just they were lazy or is this an untrustworthy site?
  4. Educate users – You also need to build in the right level of educational information into the product to reduce the learning curve.. You’ll have users who understand blockchain well, then other people have heard of it, and other people who know next to nothing. So, there may be hugely different levels of education needed depending on your target audience.
  5. Complete user research – Understand what your users want, need, and are used to working with –  then make sure that you’re tailoring the blockchain-related software to that need.
  6. Be contextually relevant – This is a normal UX best practice, but it’s extra needed in this context. The solution needs to be contextually relevant and meaningful, clearly identify your target audiences and their scenarios, then design from there.
  7. Stick with tried and true UX – Just because you’re working with new technology, you aren’t required to head off in a new direction with creating a cutting-edge user experience as well. We recommend you stick with the tried, true, and well-understood so that at least the experience is familiar even if the underlying technology is new.

Although many of these are general UX best practices, they are especially important for the blockchain to ensure that users have a sense of familiarity, consistency, and trustworthiness.

Limina’s work in Blockchain

Our recent customers have either built products directly related to the blockchain or are in industries being disrupted by blockchain applications. Our most relevant project was crafting experiences for analysts investigating and auditing activity on the blockchain, particularly so that risk analysis could be done. There was a great deal of design opportunity in reimagining what the blockchain looks like to an analyst, such as an outside auditor or law enforcement investigator.

We also work with clients in many industries were blockchain could make a huge difference as an underlying technology. However, we’ve heard directly from clients that they’re not in a position where they’ve been educated enough about how the blockchain can change the way they work.They are still learning about and exploring the concept of the blockchain and its applicability, and not ready to dive in yet.

At Limina, we can help with that education and transition. In simplest terms, blockchain is often an underlying technology, not a user experience driver. The user should not have to worry about what is making their application work effectively. To this end, we’re excited to help clients design applications that leverage the blockchain’s advantages while creating a consistent, trusted experience for their users.