Converge22 Recap: Next Gen User Experiences for Web3

Events Company Developer

Web3 technologies offer a host of potential innovations – such as enhanced privacy, democratized control over data and more efficient ways to transfer digital assets.

However, to realize the potential of Web3 technologies, there is a need to build next-generation user experiences that are seamless and easy to navigate.

At Converge22, we gathered some of the best and brightest in Web3 to discuss "Next-Gen User Experiences for Web3" with Teymour S. Farman-Farmaian (CEO of Slide), Mike Hudack (CEO at Avian Labs) and Circle co-founder Sean Neville, who moderated the discussion.

You can check out the full on-demand replay of the talk immediately below, and scroll down for key takeaways from the discussion.

Web3 UX/UI Innovation

Neville opened the talk by pointing to the opportunity for Web3 developers to create user-friendly interfaces and experiences.

"We've created these protocols that offer a lot of value but we don't have viable web browsers to figure out how to use them," he said (timestamp: 0:05). "They're worse than clunky – they're actually pretty scary for many people" because users are still becoming accustomed to Web3 technology. 

Neville added that the problem isn't limited to Web3 applications. It also stems from challenges that originate within the protocols themselves (think gas fees and slow transaction times), which means the solution requires protocol-level improvements, not just building better front-end experiences.

Farman-Farmaian weighed in to provide color and detail on Web3 usability challenges. While developers are building revolutionary technology, it will take time to become as user-friendly as Web technology that has had several decades to mature. For most users, it’s a challenge to obtain a cryptocurrency wallet, set up an exchange account, and use them in a Web3 application. Streamlining this process for users is the next innovation on the horizon.

Hudack agreed with this take: "People are willing to accept an almost infinite amount of pain if you create an infinite amount of value for them." But to create real value for people at large, crypto needs to provide "a user experience that is as seamless as Web2" technologies – meaning the traditional websites, apps and other mainstream platforms that users have grown accustomed to over the past decade. This is an enormous area of growth potential.

Usability solutions and opportunities

How do we solve Web3's usability shortcomings?

Panelists agreed that there is no simple or singular solution. Different Web3 use cases involve different usability requirements, so providing a better experience will require a multi-pronged approach.

But for starters, Farman-Farmaian suggested, one improvement that would benefit a wide range of Web3 users would be to create a "superapp" that would support core Web3 use cases – such as paying for goods and services and making loans using crypto – into a single tool. Doing so would help address user journey friction, and ultimately improve Web3 adoption.

That said, Farman-Farmaian was careful to emphasize that certain Web3 use cases – such as decentralized games and NFT marketplaces – probably couldn't be shoehorned into a generic Web3 superapp. Those types of activities will require their own, purpose-built apps.

For Hudack, improving Web3 user experience isn't about the type of app that developers build  as much as how user-friendly the app is. "You can ship an app, build a web page, whatever," he said. "What really matters is the usability you pack into it" (timestamp: 9:20).

He went on to describe what he envisions as the ideal Web3 app. It would look a lot like a traditional finance app, he said, in that it would allow users to download and run an app, then perform basic functions, without complicated setups or integrations between multiple apps and services. From his perspective, the only difference between a good Web3 app and a conventional finance app is that the former would integrate with blockchains to provide newer and better experiences.

Hudack noted that "we sort of have this type of app today" but that "there is a lot of cruft that makes the user experience clunky" (timestamp: 14:55). When users can do things like launch an app to buy NFTs as easily and readily as they can check their fiat bank account balances, Web3's usability issues could be solved.

Farma-Farmaian made similar points when describing his company's approach to NFT management. "We want to make NFT experiences as simple as possible," he said (timestamp: 22:46). "We see our role as making things as simple as possible so we can cater to the lowest common denominator" – including users who don't have a background in crypto but who want to buy and sell NFTs – while also delivering special features to benefit crypto power users.

Identity management

The panelists pointed to enhanced Web3 identity management as an important part of achieving all of the above.

They agreed that Web3 offers inherent advantages when it comes to identity management, thanks to the greater control that decentralized technologies provide users over how and where their personal data is shared. But currently, it remains challenging to prove user identities within Web3 apps, as well as to integrate those apps with conventional, non-decentralized identity management services. As a result, it's hard for Web3 to support use cases like voting.

One way to solve this challenge, Hudack suggested, would be to build better user interfaces for managing identities on decentralized platforms. Rather than requiring users to master the technical intricacies of crypto in order to understand how Web3 identities work, developers could create apps that streamline the process and let people manage identities on Web3 just like they manage identities on a social networking site, for example. 

The role of centralization

Interestingly, Neville, Farman-Farmaian and Hudack agreed that it might be necessary in some cases to embrace centralization for certain developments in Web3 – especially when effective coordination of resources and development is needed to create new technologies.

Decentralization is a foundational principle for user privacy and control, among other benefits. But as Neville describes,(timestamp: 22:08), sometimes an "element of centralization" is necessary within Web3 apps and transactions to deal with challenges like latency and to improve the user experience.

So, while decentralization should be the goal to maximize user privacy and protection of digital assets, a fixation on decentralization should not come at the expense of Web3 usability and performance.

Learn how to rapidly deploy smart contracts, custody users’ digital assets and programmatically manage funds flows across chains on our fully hosted nodes – cost-effectively and with industry-leading security you can trust with Circle Web3 Services.

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