Fish Out of Water: My Experiences Joining the Crypto Community - Part 1: New Beginnings

Fish Out of Water: My Experiences Joining the Crypto Community - Part 1: New Beginnings

Fish Out of Water Series
Part 1: New Beginnings
Part 2: The Community Shows Up
Part 3: Ethereum Personas
Part 4: The Standard for Crypto UX
Part 5: Product-Market Fit+

Hi everybody! My name is Gabriel Golcher. I am a UX Designer living in beautiful Austin, Texas and I joined AKASHA this week as Head of Design!

I also have zero experience in crypto.

Yes, you heard me right. I am an outsider! ... and that’s a good thing, believe it or not.

My initial experiences have been eventful enough to motivate me to start a blog series documenting my immersion in the culture, language, and world of crypto (with an Ethereum tint). We’ll experience together the challenges non-dev newbies like me face in becoming a part of this community. I’ll also call out UX challenges I observe from an outsider’s perspective. Finally, we’ll be able to track how I start becoming a deeper part of the community and gradually develop a more-refined crypto UX perspective (which I’ll share in this blog with all of you).

All in all, we’ll have a good record of the issues I’ve faced. My hope is that I can become a case study to help identify challenges the mainstream will face in turn as they move to Web 3.0 (I hope I employed that term correctly 😉). If my work makes crypto as a whole more approachable, easier to use, and more palatable to the majority of people, I’ll consider myself successful.

So how has my first week been? Harder than expected! I’ve been more of an ethnographer and less of a UX Designer. I’ve had to learn about a new culture, a new language, and a new way of thinking.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this tweet that a member of the team shared:

A new Gnosis Safe App is live! Users can now trade ETH and ERC20s straight from their multisig using @1inchexchange. 1inch achieves the best market rates by splitting orders among multiple DEXes in one single transaction. 🔒🔄 Try it today

— Gnosis Safe (@gnosisSafe) Jul 8, 2020

They were all discussing it like normal while I was totally lost; it may as well have been in a different language! I had no idea what ERC20s, multisigs, 1inch, or DEXes were. Actually, I still don’t know what a bunch of those terms mean. 😳

Something similar happened when I started diving in, reading about gas, tokens, a weird way of logging in with a wallet, etc. I found myself consistently lost and requiring a ton of handholding from the team (yay team!). Without their help I literally would not have figured how to log in to the various Ethereum sites. Also, I still don’t fully grasp decentralization to the extent crypto takes it, or the duality between private and public, but I’ll get there. 🤯

In UX terms, I’ve started scratching the surface. I’ve found novel, creative ideas that don’t usually do a good job identifying and understanding their target user or mapping out their customer journey. As a result, many sites and dapps are hampered by hard onboarding, absent first-time experiences, complex and unapproachable terminology, and bewildering flows (making a purchase is next to impossible!).

But I’ve also found something much more inspiring and captivating: this is a community that really cares. Y’all care about empowering people to be themselves, democratizing data, and championing privacy.

That’s why I am here, and I’m thrilled to be taking this journey with you. ❤️

Please share with me any challenges you’ve faced becoming a part of this community, where it can improve and grow, and what aspects of it we should retain and emphasize. Also, if you have any suggestions of articles or videos for me to learn more, I’d be very grateful (a coworker suggested this video which was hilarious and also very informative). Finally, any resources on crypto UX are always very welcome!

Thank you all, it’s a real pleasure!

Continue to Part 2: The Community Shows Up

If you've got any resources on crypto UX, or you'd just like to welcome Gabriel to the Team, come join us in the AKASHA Discord.