Despite the ever-growing blockchain popularity, numerous Web3 apps are getting idle and eventually dying. To be precise, only 8% of blockchain products stay afloat. But why?
Most Web3 platforms have inconvenient interfaces and difficult-to-understand functionality, which might be troublesome even for tech-savvy users. But the blockchain audience is growing, covering more and more newcomers, and Web3 products have to meet their expectations too. So they should be absolutely user-centric, introducing newbies to the world of crypto and smart contracts and simplifying such bewildering processes as NFT creation, minting, and everything in between.
And this is what we’re going to discuss in this article. How to design an NFT creation and minting processes that are smooth and convenient; why UX research matters; the importance of user flow, and many other insights are here. Step in!
Covering the basics: Web3, NFT
Before we set off on our Web3 journey, let’s first figure out what it is. We certainly don’t have time to explore this rabbit hole in detail, but it’s good to know the basics. Unlike its predecessor, Web2, Web3 platforms aren’t facilitated by centralized organizations. Instead, they are decentralized, keeping users’ data anonymous and entirely relying on blockchain technology, enabling platforms to be hosted across many independently owned servers. That prevents one company or entity from fully controlling the network.
NFT is a unique virtual (like meme, song, artwork) or real (car, apartment) object whose ownership is proved via blockchain. These tokens are mostly part of the Ethereum network that keeps track of who owns and trades them.
As the name implies, non-fungible tokens can’t be replaced with something else. You can trade one dollar for the same one. But you can’t trade a one-of-a-kind 3D artwork for the same image but only for another one looking differently.
This short explanation might be a hint for you why designing the NFT platform is no easy feat. Well, it’s really challenging to translate the complex blockchain mechanism into a user-friendly environment comprehensive for all kinds of users — NFT-literate geeks and total rookies. So, we’re moving to the next section revealing the UX importance for Web3 platforms and discussing why it is the main factor to succeed in the blockchain market.
How to create a smooth user experience
When Web3 products popped up years ago, companies used to gloss over the user experience, skip the UX research, and somehow complete UI/UX design. Because those services mainly targeted techie users and focused on low fees, unique features, and better proposals.
But those times are gone. The Web3 consumer profile has widened, shifting from blockchain geeks to separate individuals and brands that are strangers to NFTs, DeFi, crypto wallets, and DAOs.
So now, blockchain companies can’t just ask their clients to have a technical background and ignore the user experience. Instead, they should take UX research and user flow creation seriously. How to handle those two crucial product development steps and enhance usability — read on in the upcoming sections. That’s our next stop here.
Full-cycle UX research: a crucial part of product development
After pointing up the importance of intuitive user experience for Web3 products, let's explore how to reach that by analyzing the Lazarev.agency real-life case — Metastaq.
It's an end-to-end platform to design NFTs, manage, collaborate on, and distribute them with little or no effort on your side. Metastaq is intuitive and easy to use for newbies, and at the same time, it provides customizable features and advanced functionality for power users.
But it wasn't always like that. The Metastaq creators asked us to turn their idea into an MVP of a unique B2B product. And we approached it like we always do — relying on our product design methodology that encompasses UX research, UX design, and UI design.
Let's see how we managed the UX research, the first and foremost stage of every product creation process. Preliminary analysis and synthesis. We started UX research by interviewing stakeholders to agree on product vision and expectations. The client gave us a hint that businesses can't effectively develop digital assets and experiences. Heck yeah! NFT creation is challenging, especially when there is a lack of understanding of how the industry and the crypto market work.
We analyzed the existing information and gathered new data to determine customers' motivations and pain points. And here is the conclusion – many brands require a solution to replace engineers, designers, and companies that build and integrate NFT stores into their websites. They also need convenient tools to analyze token sales and as much automation as possible.
The preliminary analysis helped us set the project in the right direction and lay the robust foundation for future processes. So then we moved on to our next step.
Minting technologies research
The beauty of UX research is its consistency, but you can always adjust it to your product’s needs. For Metastaq, we had to conduct additional technical analysis to define optimal minting technologies and recommend the most suitable blockchain networks for the platform.
We looked closely at Ethereum, Solana, Polygon, Avalanche, and Polkadot. After an in-depth examination, we settled on Ethereum and Solana. The former is the 2nd most decentralized cryptocurrency and has a high level of interoperability that allows connecting the app to hundreds of existing protocols in a snap. While the latter is easier to program, so it can deploy apps faster. Besides, it doesn’t have a mempool problem when a processed transaction waits before the blockchain accepts it.
Market research& Competitor analysis
The next UX research phase involves market analysis to understand the product’s potential in this day and age. First, we explored the blockchain market’s peculiarities, limitations, and other product-related aspects. Then we employed PEST analysis to evaluate political, economic, social, and technological factors that potentially can boost or affect Metastaq.
After thorough analysis, we concluded that marketing opportunities in the metaverse are one of the top trends for promoting brands. Companies can boost their social following, build customer loyalty, showcase their products and services in the virtual world and launch new exclusive drops. Brands can even use tokens to create their own economies and interact with fans on their terms.
Sure, we glanced at the main minting flows of the most popular NFT platforms and niche tools. Many of them fail to have intuitive creator panels hindering the NFT creation process. Some platforms make it difficult for users to empower their tokens with additional value, such as keys, gift certificates, or extra content. Among the biggest flaws was hectic smart contract creation, so we made it hidden and automated for Metastaq. We also realized that lazy minting is a crucial functionality to add to the platform so that users can pay for gas at the point of sale. Besides, we enabled payments not only in cryptocurrency but also in dollars.
After learning the competitor landscape, we got concepts and product ideas ready to be tested. But most importantly, we confirmed our thesis found during the preliminary analysis. It’s really challenging for brands to enhance their marketing strategies by using NFTs. So our goal was to simplify the processes and add maximum automation to the platform.
User data collection
After the market research, we investigated our target audience to better understand people’s main barriers when working with NFTs and their product expectations. To collect the required data, we conducted quantitative and qualitative studies, including in-depth interviews, surveys, field studies, experiments, and observations. The research helped us make a list of features necessary for teams to work comfortably on NFT creation and distribution.
We got three user personas (admin, teammate, and finance manager) and worked through their frustrations. For instance, the admin fears they can’t analyze the NFT sales hectic-free. So we incorporated a convenient tool to do that right on the platform to address this pain point. Another frustration comes down to this: they won’t have enough skills and experience to implement the NFT marketplace. To deal with this problem, we enabled users to create, mint, and distribute non-fungible tokens without a single code line. Stores can be created with drop-and-drop builders, and the ready-made marketplaces can be edited and styled according to the brand’s visual identity. Besides, the NFT store can be integrated into the company website using API.
Speaking of teammates, they’re afraid of staying one-on-one with the platform. We addressed that fear by providing free consultations with Metstaq managers, service, and technical support at any time. In addition, we assigned appropriate functionality for every role not to overload users with unnecessary functions.
Apart from analyzing the user personas, we constructed the customer journey map starting from awareness and finishing with selling NFT. Based on that data, the Lazarev.agency designers created value propositions and hypotheses to develop a platform that conveys powerful blockchain principles, including decentralization, transparency, and uncensorability.
User flow as an extremely valuable UX design tool
Fully relying on data gathered during the UX research, we moved to the next stage, which is user flow — an essential step to ensure a smooth NFT creation process. By laying out the way customers move through the platform from the entry point to the final interaction, the user flow provides an aerial view of the product. Besides, it gives a great area for project improvement. For example, you can see alternative ways of solving users' problems or understand how to make them less complicated. It is also crucial for comprehending the product structure and further work monitoring.
At Lazarev.agency, we strongly believe that the user flow phase cannot be skipped by no means, especially for such complex products as Metastaq. It has innovative functionality that performs very specific tasks, so it's impossible to understand precisely how the project will work until you start iterating the flow.
Before creating a user flow for Metastaq, in particular for NFT creation and minting processes, we analyzed the flows of other similar Web3 products. We spotted certain errors, understood some technical frameworks, and started developing our flow, firstly identifying the crucial steps, then detailing them and improving. And we surely kept our users in mind throughout the process — both NFT-enthusiasts and newbies.
So, let's see what fundamentally important steps the NFT creation process at the Metastaq platform takes.
The user journey begins by introducing customers to the platform's functionality. Thus, the detailed and well-thought-out onboarding eliminates many problems associated with poor blockchain knowledge. Next, the user, if they're an admin, adds teammates and specifies the wallet details required for the minting process.
The NFT creation begins once a user uploads a separate art or creates a whole collection at once. Each art piece can be powered up with a key property, unlockable content, gift certificate, discount, or reward coupon. The next step will be to write the artwork title, description, and other vital details and add properties, if any.
Actually, that's it. NFT is ready, although it isn't minted yet. After that, the user can save the token as a draft to be able to edit, delete or mint it later on. If a teammate creates the NFT, they can submit it to the admin or go directly to the minting or release steps.
Let's see how minting is happening. As we mentioned earlier, the creation of smart contracts at Metastaq is automated and happens precisely at this stage. But for tech-savvy users, additional technical settings are available where they can create a new smart contract and deploy it to the network.
Users can specify the NFT value and add a crypto wallet at this stage if they missed this step during onboarding. Next, they proceed to the checkout and pay for the smart contract and NFT in crypto or dollars. After that, NFT is automatically saved to Collection NFTs with deployed status. In the future, it can only be released or burned.
After the NFT creation process, users can go another way and release the token or the whole collection. Firstly, a user chooses the NFT distribution method. They can create a dedicated webpage, get an API key and publish tokens on the website, in the app, or wherever. There are two more ways available — releasing NFT on the marketplace or generating a dynamic QR that leads to the page where NFT can be bought.
Then, a user follows the instruction according to the distribution method. For example, if you're creating a dedicated webpage, you connect the wallet to receive income from sales and choose a ready-made store template. At this stage, we made sure that users can easily create any store with the help of a drop-and-drop builder.
The last step is minting, which is the same as we've described above. Since Metastaq is a B2B product, it was essential to ensure a convenient collaboration between those who create NFTs and those who approve each stage of development. That's why we moved the minting process to the last step so that everybody involved could make corrections to the project.
What a journey to NFT design! It was a long but hopefully informative copy. We’re pretty sure this guide will help you rock in the Web3 world with flying colors.
Let’s summarize: to beat the competition in the blockchain market, design NFTs platforms with user needs in mind. They should be educational, intuitive, and as simple as possible. Make use of UX research and the latest design trends to come up with such services. And remember that the Web3 profile covers experienced users as well as new adopters with no background knowledge of the blockchain.
See you next blog post. Stay tuned and before you go, add the Lazarev.agency site to your bookmarks for more design tips and inspiration.