Blockchain image via Unsplash

Why we need better blockchain content design

by Hunter Gebron

  1. There is an abundance of new terminology and a lack of standardization.
  2. The usability of most blockchains is slow and cumbersome.
  3. Protecting users’ funds from hacks or user error is vital but hard to do.

Challenge #1: An abundance of new terminology and a lack of standardization

People who work in blockchain throw terms around like DeFi, Proof-of-Stake, hard fork, and consensus algorithm as casually as a Hawaiian shirt on Friday. And it’s easy to start thinking that everyone knows what they mean if you’re inside the crypto bubble. But step outside of that bubble, and you quickly realize most people have no idea what these words represent.

Challenge #2: Most blockchains are slow and cumbersome

This is more a reality of the current state of the technology rather than a pure UI/UX challenge. Nevertheless, it makes building blockchain products difficult and frustrating for users — so, it’s a clear usability challenge. Transaction wait times can be several minutes long, and sometimes, they don’t complete at all. They might end up canceled or timed out.

Microcopy example from MetaMask

Challenge #3: Protecting users’ funds from hacks or user error is vital but hard to do

Let’s take the following real-world example to illustrate how and why this is difficult and ways content design can lend a hand.

Alert error message example from Polkadot Substrate Portal
  • The first sentence, “Do not transfer funds directly to a specific account,” conflates “funds” with Kusama (KSM) — the specific cryptocurrency that’s required. Since Kusama is the only crypto accepted here, calling it “funds” muddies the waters and could lead users to think they can send other types of crypto like BTC or ETH to crowdloan teams — which they cannot.
  • Additionally, the first sentence also tells users not to transfer funds “to a specific account that is associated with a loan or a team.” But many legitimate projects are hosting separate websites with user-friendly UIs designed to make it easier for users to contribute. This sentence sends mixed signals to users and interrupts marketing efforts conducted by crowdloan teams.
  • Very few people know what “crowdloan runtime module” or “runtime” means — it’s best to avoid obscure terms like these altogether.
  • It doesn’t explain the difference between a fund being “dissolved,” “expiring,” or “ending.” How will users know how to parse this information?
  • It vaguely alludes to the risk of sending funds to accounts outside of this portal but doesn’t explicitly state those risks, for example, “scammers,” “hacks,” “phishing attempts,” “buggy code.” We should give the user a precise understanding of the specific risks associated with making contributions outside this portal so they can make an informed judgment.


Content design can go a long way to guide users through a product experience by:

  1. Distilling complexity down to its essential parts.
  2. Constructing sentences that are understandable and clear to help users take the next indicated in-product action to accomplish their goals.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store