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At the moment, blockchain and cryptocurrency have a two-minute rule problem: they are too complicated for most users to completely change their habits and adopt Web3 into their everyday life.
The Two Minute Rule was developed by productivity consultant and author David Allen, who stated that it should take less than two minutes to start a new habit. Not only is Web3 a complicated concept, it also lacks product design – does anyone remember MS-DOS? — and require multiple steps to complete transactions. During his opening speech at Circle Converge 2022 in San Francisco, stablecoin issuer Chairman and CEO Jeremy Allaire noted, “Users don’t need to know what chain they’re on or what stablecoin they’re using, they just need to know that it is a smooth interaction.”
This user experience (UX) challenge extends all the way to communication. Currently, blockchain companies are geared up to narrate every detail of their technology as if they were talking to another technologist – which quickly puts the average person to sleep. These barriers create far more friction than most users are willing to put up with, thus causing high levels of wear and tear.
I dabbled in language simplification ad nauseam when I was a journalist writing for a large audience on a complicated niche topic: the wine business. I have constantly edited my plays to find a literary balance between creating new, innovative stories and preserving the language and concepts to inspire readers to taste the wines I have written about. I brought these lessons to my communications company, Man of the World Media, where my day is filled with constantly refining clients’ messages to accurately convey the highlights of their products without losing potential users in the process.
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Here are three ways to simplify a Web3 company’s messaging so that it accurately explains its product while driving more consistent adoption.
1. Use clear language to improve UX
Ultimately, nailing the UX is what will entice the next billion users to adopt blockchain technology, and this is where the industry needs to do most of the work. The Crypto Research and Design Lab (CRADL), whose vision is to champion a human-centric Web3 for all, has just released a comprehensive report titled UX in Cryptocurrency. CRADL is partnering with the World Economic Forum’s Crypto Impact and Sustainability Accelerator (CISA) to “shift the crypto industry from tech-centric to people-centric.” At my company, I keep this in mind when consulting on Web3 clients’ brand messaging and positioning. Familiarizing yourself with the technology is important for some audiences, especially the informed masses and investors. However, I really challenge founders when it comes to B2C branding, where I think it’s much more important to simply explain what the product does than to describe the underlying technology.
The biggest success story in Web3 to date is NFTs, and there’s no bigger catalyst for that than Dapper Labs, who created the NBA top-shot phenomenon. If you look around Top Shot’s website, there aren’t any of the traditional Web3 words – blockchain, cryptocurrency, or even NFT – which are entirely intentional. Dapper is more interested in users understanding that they can fully own a digital collectible of their favorite gamer, rather than trying to be poetic about the merits of NFTs, crypto, blockchain, custody, and other industry jargon. Their numbers match: According to Dapper’s website, Top Shot has 1.5 million users, over 20 million marketplace transactions, and a staggering $1 billion in transactions. By being relatable and explaining the experience in plain English, they show how plain language can lead to more activity.
2. Examine known and unknown pain points
Another technique I use with clients is to build out pain points to illustrate new opportunities being created by their blockchain products.
For example, if a company uses NFTs to create fractional ownership of art, houses, etc., I start by stating the problem: “It’s difficult to buy art at auction when you don’t have a lot of money. But now everyone can be a collector and art owner. As? Using NFTs on the Blockchain to Create Fractional Ownership! NFTs are…” This elegantly creates a real, familiar scenario that can put someone in a learnable mindset.
There’s also the broader discussion of ownership of data and how Web3 tools are putting that back in the hands of users. It’s true that most people want that: A study conducted by BritePool and the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations found that nearly 90% of respondents would select a “don’t sell” option if they encountered it on a website .
For non-Web3 users, however, this is often too broad a concept, and the current way builders talk about it is beyond their heads. Instead of giving the 30,000-foot view of why people shouldn’t mindlessly share their data, break it down into bite-sized concepts. First, explain that using a Web3 wallet to connect to a website allows the individual to make firm choices about what data to share or not.
Next, go ahead and explain the new possibilities that come with this approach to your data. Explain that they could now monetize it the same way big internet companies do and keep the money. Or they can have multiple wallets with different personal details and create multiple digital identities. As wallets continue to become more seamless, the relatable soundbites that communications teams deploy will play a huge role throughout the adoption process.
3. Tell stories that highlight real Web3 opportunities
Web3 creators are throwing around concepts like decentralization, privacy, and data ownership. This misses the mark for most people. Users want to know what your product means to them, not every detail that went into creating the product. I say to my customers: The customers don’t want to know how the sausage is made; they just want to know that it’s delicious. Because of this, I urge customers to be clear about what their product means to end users and not expect customers to derive use cases based on the underlying technology.
Instead of a gaming company telling players that they are now using NFTs, they should explicitly state to their players that they are now full owners of the assets they collect while playing. But don’t stop there. Give players examples of what this actually means: they can now save and own in-game purchases, transfer assets to other supported games, or sell them to other players. This language more clearly articulates the qualities that make owning an NFT a better user experience without losing users in technical jargon.
If a platform offers cryptocurrency instead of made-up rewards, explain to recipients that they own those rewards as if they were in their own bank account. They can spend them however they like or even convert them to cash. Remind users that while centralized rewards may depreciate in value or expire at the whim of the issuer, these new benefits are entirely under their control and are not subject to these practices.
Peter Weltman is a storytelling entrepreneur who founded the strategic communications firm Man of the World Media in San Francisco.
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