As the hype around cryptocurrencies, blockchain, NFTs and surrounding technologies continue to gain momentum, the amount of native users of wallets, exchanges, and dapps remains relatively small. While more and more people are starting to learn about this fast-growing sector which threatens to disrupt traditional finance, we have to wonder why mainstream adoption has been so slow.
One factor is certainly the limitations in positive user experiences and high quality user friendly interfaces, which both act as barriers to onboarding the next set of web3 users. Taking a closer look at some of the challenges which new users face can help all web3 companies and builders to create frictionless new customer integrations.
Web2 and Web3 Access Points
By now, pretty much everyone is familiar with the good old login process, relying on their username and passwords to access everything from e-banking accounts, to apps on their mobiles, to social media and more.
In a Web3 world, accessing dapps and decentralised exchanges requires connecting your digital wallet, which, in itself, requires self-custody. Creating a wallet isn’t linked to an email account, and users aren’t given the traditional option of creating a simple alpha-numerical password which they can easily remember, but is rather built on a 12-word seed phrase. The challenge lies in where to keep a record of the phrase, as losing it means that your wallet – and all the digital assets in it – are permanently lost!
As Twitter user @shivsakhuja (co-founder of Magic Labs and former Google employee) says “most people can’t even remember their passwords – we can’t expect everyone to keep their keys safely. People always gravitate toward convenience.”
Currently, all legitimate and successful web3 projects offer great documentation to help new users to onboard, but as John Hawley writes “good design is invisible,” and users shouldn’t have to read a long article or watch several videos just to understand how to essentially “open an account.”
Developer-centric and driven
If we dig a little deeper into where the drive and impetus for web3 was born, it is clear to see that it was (and still is) developer-driven and created. With this in mind, new users not only run into technical issues, but also have to learn a new lingo!
Opening up the website of any web3 project, you are met with such terms as “TVL,” “multi-chain,” and “bridges” to name but a few – all of which require time to research and fully comprehend in real-world use cases.
Similarly, Discord – originally a developers discussion platform for chatting, learning and exchanging knowledge to help them code – is now firmly cemented as one of the most popular online channels for crypto, NFT, blockchain and web3 players to convene. Arguably a little tedious to use as a newbie, web3 on-boarders must learn how to use it.
Blockchain platforms are still in their early phases and resemble core blockchain technology, but with a growth rate of 67.3 percent between 2020 and 2025, the requirement for secure and quick developments of the blockchain-enabled ecosystem is constantly increasing. This rise also shows itself in the appearance of blockchain platforms.
One concept which can be difficult for new users to wrap their heads around is that, out of the over 12,000 cryptocurrencies available for purchase right now, they are not all supported by the same wallets. Ethereum-based wallets like MetaMask cannot accept Bitcoin, but do accept Wrapped Bitcoin, making the process more than a little complex as a novice buyer, trader and investor.
In the same vein, the vast and various chains and their benefits, limitations, and downsides require a steep learning-curve, making this aspect of web3 education yet another barrier for new users.
For most new users, the crypto-scene currently feels a bit like the wild, wild west. There are a myriad of situations where they are uncertain of how to interact and they lack trust and security in the services they are attempting to use.
Early adopters are facing complicated terminology, challenges UIs, unexpected fees, security fears, slow transactions, confusing errors, scams and more. That all makes for a very tricky onboarding process.
While this is something that can work for now, it simply won’t scale as billions of users join the crypto ecosystem in the coming years.
As the UX/UI issues begin to be addressed, and some of the technical processes simplified, more and more users will more willingly take their first steps into the world of Web3.
This article was written by Karen Shidlo, marketing manager at fiat24