When it comes to the UX of Web3, the past is prologue.
And the #1 lesson is this: the people who can aggregate and curate content in a way that makes anyone comfortable — even your 80-year-old grandma — will own the future.
When you look at the multi-billion dollar winners from the Web2 era, like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, you know instinctively it’s true. The relentless pursuit of an uber-friendly UX/UI that solves customer pain points and challenges is the linchpin.
To OG coders like me, the metaverse gives me a feeling of serious déjà vu in the best way possible. Some of the best times of my life were in the mid-2000s when Facebook launched its beta API to third-party developers by invite-only. During a four-hour car ride, I drank in the API documentation. By morning, I had built a few rudimentary apps.
Those apps did things that were novel at the time, like virtual gifting (before downloadable content was really a thing) and voting. When I created an app called Like2Battle that used Facebook’s “like” functionality and open graph technology to mash up two different things and let users vote for their favorite. For example, people voted on epic rival battles like Coke vs. Pepsi and the best pizza in New England (New Haven won, btw). This might sound frivolous, but that kind of experimentation provided a significant benefit: it empowered me to see the potential for clients. Within a few weeks, my partners and I were building apps for clients, one of which captured 100K likes for Edible Arrangements in less than 24-hours with zero paid media dollars, sending customer acquisition and engagement through the roof and solidifying our place as their digital marketing partner.
Learning by doing should never be underestimated. Sure, some people might have been muttering WTF under their breath when I had my team build the “Happy Birthday Kanye’’ website using Twitter’s API to aggregate all the love that people were sharing. But that stopped when Universal Music Group (Ye’s label) hired us to work on creative concepting for the Cruel Summer album. A fantastic result, but not even the point.
The point is that if you work in the digital world, you have to play there first. Listening to the blockchain is crucial if you want a competitive edge. And the best way to hear its wisdom is to immerse yourself in it.
This brings me to a fun example of how agencies or teamlancers can use your interest and creative juice to fuel your knowledge of Web3:
Introducing NFTER, an app that marries the sexy of the NFT marketplace with the experience of Tinder so you can find the NFTs of your dreams.
What NFTs to Buy? A NFTy Use Case
This got me thinking: there are plenty of collections and leaderboards out there to see top NFT collections. But what about an easy way to view undervalued individual NFTs in a given collection?
My team and I started by thinking of what a fun and interesting way would be to visualize NFTs from newly trending collections. You’d want to look and like or dislike the art quickly, and then you’d like to see their floor prices and list prices. That way, you can not only discover cool new digital art that fits your taste profile, but you can also snag a few exciting NFTs for your collection.
Inspired by popular UI design patterns and conventions, we began to play around with the idea of displaying a stack of NFTs in a mobile-first context. And, of course, swiping right for what you like (and left for what you don’t) is an enjoyable and semi-addicting action to take.
And finally, we figured we’d want people to be able to store the NFTs they discovered and purchased using the app, so we designed it so it connects to the popular wallet MetaMask. That way, we’d build a pretty fun database of collections that go far beyond the ❤️ favorite feature on top NFT marketplaces like Rarible or OpenSea.
Now we’re going to get a little bit into the tech weed with how we built the app. It’s still a work in progress, but this is a general idea:
- The back end is driven by a scheduled pipeline that scrapes the top 100 collections from OpenSea’s top collections over seven days.
- We built custom tech to query different blockchains. For example, we’re using the OpenSea API to listen for “listing events” on these NFT collections.
- Users of NFTER are then presented with tokens from top collections that have recently been listed for auction or buy now. This is more useful than manually looking into collections and trying to find available tokens.
In the future, we can improve and make it even more valuable by offering filters that allow users to set rarity levels and min/max prices. Our goal is to help everyone find the perfect NFT, from the casual collector to the dedicated investor.
What We’ve Learned So Far
The app is still in its early stages, and of course, the impact of our efforts as the public plays with it remains to be seen, but we’ve already gleaned a ton of information and data from the experience.
First off, we’re learning firsthand about the different APIs and tech stacks that all have their own quirky edge cases. (Web3 is the Wild, Wild West, and we love it). That’s instructional in its own right and critical for our ability to build products and experiences for clients that engage their audience and deliver invaluable intel on their preferences and behaviors.
What is an NFT? The Million-dollar Question That Has Turned Into a Playground for UX Designers
Because we’re in the business of user and human behavior, we’re leveraging a familiar concept (Tinder-like swipe UI) to introduce an unfamiliar one. For example, the term “NFT” is now more recognizable, and the market is already pretty huge (worth $41 billion in 2021). But even the biggest marketplace, OpenSea, has just a million active users worldwide. Compare that to Facebook’s number of monthly active users: 2.91 billion. Or another marketplace, Amazon: Prime users alone top 153 million per month. So, OpenSea and other NFT marketplaces are still in their infancy… but growing exponentially.
NFTER essentially is a curation tool for NFTs. Our goal is to help make NFTs more accessible, inclusive, and enjoyable for newbies and seasoned collectors alike. Becoming a trusted resource dedicated to educating and shepherding people through new experiences like Web3 is very much a part of our mission as demand designers. If you want to be a “growth whisperer” (I know I do), you have to be able to listen to the market and understand where the pain points and challenges are. NFTER makes it so that necessary information for both the user and the creator (my team and I) is just a swipe away.