Design, Meet Crypto: A Design Guide for Cryptocurrency Brands

By Zach Schloss and Emily Hom-Nici

Cryptocurrency has seen a dramatic surge in growth over the past year, meaning more and more people are engaging with the industry’s offerings, and often times self-educating through various platforms and websites. In 2017 Bitcoin rose to record-setting value (and then dropped), new ICOs and tokens popped up daily, and some of the industry’s largest players (CME Group, Square, Microsoft) joined the emerging cryptosphere. Simply put: crypto has become a popular happy hour topic.

Amidst this boom, VSA has been working with several emerging and established crypto brands—including CoinMarketCap, MyEtherWallet, and The Blocknet—in an effort to bring strong brand and UX design to this rising industry. Through this work, we’ve seen that important design considerations are often left to the wayside as teams hone their focus on their product, platform or ICO launch, resulting in ineffective brands and user experiences.

Given our experience, these are a few of our top UX and design considerations for emerging and established Cryptocurrency Brands.

Make the user your first priority
It might seem like an obvious point, but it’s often something that slips through the cracks, especially during the early stages of product development. It’s easy for subject matter experts to forget that their users may not be as familiar with the technology and need more context or simpler language (what’s known as design bias).

For many, cryptocurrency and blockchain are still a relatively sci-fi topics. Take a step back: What are the user’s priorities and experiences? Under what context are they visiting your site? Does your site make it easy for novices to get started? This mindfulness don’t just apply to fintech—regardless of industry or vertical, VSA believes that every great product puts the user first and foremost.

Don’t underestimate the details
The newness and “Wild West-ness” of the crypto and blockchain worlds, coupled with an over saturation of new entrants, makes it hard for users to know who to believe and who to invest in. Take time to build a brand that stands out, is differentiated, and ultimately builds trust along the way.

The complexity of this somewhat high-stakes world means that users need to be able to understand exactly what each click and function will result in. Ensuring data security has become one of the most important pieces of the crypto user experience. No one wants their crypto stolen in a hack. This means crypto companies must help their users understand how to keep their information secure at every touch point. This requires both technology and design. Sometimes it can be achieved as easily as incorporating status messaging in a transaction flow.

Identifying these types of design challenges early on is key to making a strong, distinguished, and lasting impression on users. In a space that is quickly becoming crowded, a strong brand and user experience are a must in order to stand out—whether that means establishing a design language or employing unique details to the interface.

Beware of common startup pitfalls
Early stage startups face many challenges. Across the fintech industry, many startups are built using out-of-the box pieces or home-grown systems. The result is a clunky experience, user interface, and data processing. This not only undermines a site’s capabilities, but can cause new visitors to perceive your brand as untrustworthy. Furthermore, you might experience problems across devices or mislead users with erroneous features and functions.

Interested in learning more about VSA’s fintech experience and offerings? Contact our Blockchain Lead, Mark Skroch.

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Since 2010, Zach has led experience strategy, research and design for digital products, services and communications. He’s passionate about helping established and emerging organizations transform human-centered experiences through technology. Zach joined VSA in 2016 and has worked on business transformation for IBM, emerging cryptocurrency technology for MyEtherWallet, and digital marketing for Marvin Windows. Prior to joining VSA, Zach led experience design projects for United Healthcare, Intel, Citibank, Nissan, and Marriott. Zach holds a Bachelor of Science in Visualization and Virtual Experience from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

As a senior designer at VSA, Emily has delivered beautiful work for such clients as IBM, Google, CME Group. The Blocknet and Arity. Her work and passions span from designing digital products and experiences, to design systems and branding expression work. Emily started VSA’s cross-office, multidisciplinary Code Club to help other employees learn code and interact with the digital world. She has a BA in Communication Design from Texas State University.