In 1994, Jakob Nielsen defined 10 general principles for interaction design. Due to their broad application and the fact that those principles are not specific usability guidelines, he named them heuristics.
Ever since then, those principles have been the guiding star for many user experience designers, whether they’re working on defining products, frameworks, or even their own design principles.
While Nielsen’s heuristics are still relevant and widely used, we tried to derive a set of new heuristics for our own needs. Based on the original ones, these new heuristics help us tackle design challenges when developing blockchain products. Hopefully, you will find them just as useful as we do.
1. Status Visibility and Transparency
The system should communicate to the user what’s going on in a simple and easy-to-understand way and inform them about the current phase of the process and what’s affecting it.
Example: Show the transaction status and make the information meaningful.
2. Expected Patterns and Behaviors
A product shouldn’t deviate from the standard and should instead rely on the existing conventions, behaviors, and patterns of the current digital products that the users engage with frequently.
Example: Mask complex data with simple login info by connecting the public key to a username and using the user’s password for decryption of a private key stored on the user’s device for validation.
3. Immutability of Actions
When it comes to blockchain-based products, a lot of actions cannot be reverted or changed after being executed. Therefore, users should be aware in advance of the effects of actions they are taking.
Example: Remind the user to be cautious while proceeding with sending funds.
4. Standardization is the Best Practice
Make the communication unified across all blockchain-based products and use phrases that can be anchored to the real world or can be easily explained to the new users by avoiding jargon and technical terms.
Example: Replace seed phrase and keystore file with recovery phrase and recovery key, as that helps explain the terms’ purpose.
5. Preventing Immutable Errors
Alerting the users about errors is fantastic, but preventing them is even better and it can easily be done by eliminating error-prone conditions and presenting the users with confirmation modals before they execute an action.
Example: Require from the users to explicitly confirm the action before proceeding.
6. Make Information Memorable to Humans
Instead of making users remember complex wallet addresses, allow them to create aliases, if possible. If not, allow them to easily copy and paste the info.
Example: Use usernames instead of addresses and allow copying of long and unmemorable data.
7. Require Information Incrementally
Allow novice users to get familiar with the system or the product before asking them for additional data. Ask for new information only when necessary.
Example: Allow deposits and withdrawals without completing KYC and ask for new information only when it’s required to complete an action.
8. Information Should Be Actionable and Educational
After narrowing down the amount of information that is going to be displayed, ensure that the information is relevant to the user.
Example: Display only the information that provides value to the user or that they can use for the next task.
9. Help Users Understand the Error
If an error occurs, inform the user about what went wrong, explain why, and say which condition wasn’t fulfilled in plain language without using codes.
Example: Not enough funds because of the required fees.
10. Onboard Your Users
Help users get a head start if they are using your application for the first time by providing them with a useful onboarding process and giving them relevant tooltips, especially when it comes to complex and critical parts of every action they are set on making.
Example: Use onboarding to get the users familiar with the unique features of your product and the benefits they get by using your application.
After providing the users with functionality and security, we should aim to improve the user experience, as it is the next big step in the mass adoption of blockchain-based products.
Hopefully, these new heuristics can help raise awareness regarding the importance of good UX design, which will, in result, lead towards developing solutions that are widely used on a daily basis.
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10 Usability Heuristics for UI Design in the Blockchain Era was originally published in MVP Workshop on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.