Ah, the Internet of the ‘90s. You probably hear the dial-up tone in your head right now. That version was Web 1.0, a rudimentary read-only web experience.
We’ve since moved on to Web 2.0, which allows us to read and contribute by way of posting comments, publishing great insight blogs (wink wink), and participating in larger conversations through platforms like social media.
While Web 2.0 is a clear step up from the static days of Web 1.0, there’s a problem. We don’t own our data. Tech platforms like Google, Meta, and Amazon do. And that’s a big rub.
But Web 3.0 is coming. And it aims to disrupt how we experience the web today by putting ownership in users’ hands’.
Web3 is still being shaped. But by being an early adopter, you can recognize opportunities for your brand — and set your product up for success.
What We Know About Web3
We’re not sure when Web3 will arrive. We don’t even know exactly what it will look like — no one does. But here’s what we do know.
Web3 is a term that encompasses different ideas or visions toward eliminating the intermediaries on the Internet. Think of all the big tech companies that collect our data and make decisions based on that data. Right now, we don't have a say in those decisions. And Web3, the “Future of the Internet,” is not a fan of this process.
One of the main tenets of Web3 is decentralization and democratization. Ideally, the people will have decision-making power, voting for elements that impact them. Plus, they’ll have complete ownership over their identity and data. This means users can buy, sell, transfer, and delete data as they please. (Yes, please!)
Blockchain technology will allow for a distributed network. This means information won’t be owned by any single entity or company. Users will have “pseudonymity,” where wallets will be an identifier (though not linked to your real identity). And cryptocurrency will be king.
The New Technologies Shaping Web3
A new set of technologies that define Web3, too. Among them:
A ledger or database to keep records of transactions.
Decentralized digital cash that isn’t controlled by any government or a central authority.
3. NFTS (NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS)
A form of crypto, but each NFT is unique and cannot be exchanged for another.
4. DAPPS (DECENTRALIZED APPLICATIONS)
An application run autonomously on a decentralized computing, blockchain, or other distributed ledger system.
5. SMART CONTRACTS
Contracts that don’t require a central authority to enforce or monitor anything. Everything happens automatically according to the rules and logic of the contract.
6. EDGE COMPUTING
Where computing happens at the edges of the network instead of a massive, centralized computer center.
7. DAOS (DECENTRALIZED AUTONOMOUS ORGANIZATIONS)
Every member of the organization has a voice and decides what money is spent on and when, from a treasury. This makes it virtually impossible to commit fraud since every transaction and its history is open to public scrutiny.
8. MACHINE LEARNING AND AI
Computers understand information on a human-like level to provide faster and more relevant results.
When you start developing a product with new technology like Web3, there are certain aspects to consider that are different from a regular technology stack. Being aware of these differences will help you create an enhanced digital product experience that fits the needs of both the user and the underlying technology.
Web3 Digital Product Design Prep
With the user at the center of it all, design will assume a large influence over how users adopt Web 3 — or don’t.
If you want to retain your loyal users and attract new ones, you have to design for user adoption. This will be a differentiator for your product since Web3 is still in its infancy. Most of what’s already out there about Web3 has been designed by and for developers who already understand it. But like your team’s inside jokes, your users won’t.
To help them along, here’s what you can do.
Create a Streamlined, Friendly Onboarding Process
Web3 won’t replace Web 2.0. Rather, it will work alongside it. Therefore, give your users different options for onboarding with Web3 or Web 2.0.
Add familiar steps to increase the user’s confidence in this new experience. Not only will they be more comfortable using your product, but they’ll see you as a trustworthy source.
Emphasize the critical steps. The user must know what’s happening and what will happen next in the onboarding process — especially for critical steps like creating or connecting a wallet, or working with a smart contract. These actions may be completely new to them, so don’t assume users know what they’re doing. Make your messaging clear.
Eliminate curiosity and distractions by building awareness around your product with an effective landing page. This way, the user arrives already informed about your product, allowing you to focus on a simplified onboarding process.
Research existing web3auth services that make onboarding a breeze. You can reduce development time and costs by having a list of potential services that would be a good fit for your product.
Provide User-Friendly Information
Navigating Web3 and its intricacies will require education for your users. Take this opportunity to be their friendly guide on this new, exciting frontier.
While many Web3 and Web 2.0 apps will function the same, there will be certain processes and terminology exclusive to Web3. Point this out whenever possible, and don’t assume anything is known.
Since cryptocurrency will dominate, aim to provide currencies your users are already comfortable with. Familiar values in their preferred currency will help them understand token values faster and give them more confidence.
Lastly, design for trust. New technology is often viewed as risky and a huge unknown. Just think about how skeptical people were about working completely over the Internet. To combat the uncertainty, take extra steps to provide transparency, education, and empowerment around Web3 and your product.
Empower Users to Feel in Control
What makes Web3 ideal is the notion that users will be in control of their information and data. Extend that feeling of empowerment to your product by providing no-nonsense navigation and intuitive information architecture. Consider your user personas and think about how they would respond to the way your information architecture is designed.
Be Open to New Technology
Often the design principles used in Web 2.0 may be applied to Web3. But there still isn’t a standard for the new concepts and processes that Web3 will usher in.
Bottom line: Stay nimble and willing to explore new solutions.
Learn what’s new, be adaptable when things change, and embrace your ideas. Having an open mind about how to solve inevitable inefficiencies and problems will only give you an advantage.
Set Up a Seat on the Cutting Edge of Web3
In a digital landscape dominated by big tech companies, Web3 is a welcome alternative. The thing is, it’s still ambiguous with new concepts and forecasts coming out every day.
Instead of waiting for Web3 to hit, arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Not only will you not be in the dark about new updates, but you’ll start to understand where Web3 can be a boon for your digital product design— and give you a leg up on the competition.
Tips for staying ahead of the Web3 curve:
Learn the basics. Get familiar with Web3 vocabulary, concepts, and definitions. The Odyssey DAO newsletter is a great resource for this. They send digestible content that covers everything from decentralized finance and NFTs to setting up your first wallet.
Get your team on board. Foster team collaboration now by emphasizing designing with the user in mind. Because Web3 will be inherently user-centric, you’ll need to test early and iterate often to optimize your designs.
Stay on top of the trends. Just like any new emerging technology, it’s important to stay involved in the latest news and trends. This will allow you to make smarter decisions and stay on top of a rapidly growing space.
Waiting for Web3 to Become a Digital Reality
While there are many theoretically exciting things about Web3, there are also concerns about a lack of governance.
For example, some concerns are that low moderation could lead to a proliferation of cybercrime. And, rules and laws can’t be enforced if there’s no centralized web. There’s also a risk of a small group of investors and individuals who will swallow all the wealth, further exacerbating the problems with big tech.
In the meantime, Web3 development remains on the horizon as more than just a digital utopia. And design’s impact will be crucial when it comes to getting users on board. Stay at the forefront of its developments and take the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the crowd.