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Mint in Messages & ZK in Zillow

A letter to 0xDesigner

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Today's letter is to 0xDesigner. Around this time last year, I noticed an account posting interesting crypto UX ideas on Twitter. The tweets grew into an incredible project called Design Everydays that has helped me think outside the box in terms of how we can use crypto.

To: 0xDesigner

I've had so much fun following along the awesome ideas in your Design Everydays project this past year.

Design Everydays

My favorite posts on tech twitter in the last 12 months were mostly UX ideas from creatives like you, Soren, Gaut, etc. Seeing these designs helped me realize the importance of details in the tech products we build. Every interaction matters. The words on a button matter. The order of actions matter. The number of decisions a user has to make matters. And so on.

One of the big narratives in crypto is that we need better UX in order to onboard the
"next billion people". However, few people effectively demonstrate what needs to be changed. And this is why I appreciate Design Everydays so much: I'm getting a chance to see what interesting crypto UX looks like.

I wanted to callout three things that I learned from you:

  1. Importance of language

  2. Connecting the unexpected

  3. Showing up daily

Importance of language

Perhaps one of my favorite threads of yours was the importance of language in crypto. I never bothered to question the word "wallet" even though I use one daily. When I joined crypto, that's what everyone called it so I just went along. But what if Farcaster used the term profiles? Or Sound used the word libraries? I'm not sure if those are the right answers but the core point clicked for me: the words we use when building products matter. A lot.

Onboard with words

Reading your thread reminded me of a story I read about the early days of Microsoft. In the original versions of Windows, it would take users ~20 mins to open up a simple text editor! Microsoft engineers thought their customers were morons. But the reality was that the OS was initially a design failure - even rocket scientists couldn't figure out Windows.

Danny Oran, an interface designer at the company in the '90s, finally had the epiphany to add a button that would guide people to everything. He first called it the "System" button. But that didn't make a dent - people weren't clicking on it. Eventually, he renamed the button to "Start". In the next set of user tests, customers finished the tasks before he even gave out instructions!

This simple word switch changed the trajectory of Windows.

Another example worth mentioning is how intentional Facebook was when it came to picking the name for the "Like" button. Can you imagine if billions of people were giving each other "+" on our posts everyday? Check out this retro from Boz:

July 13, 2007 - In the initial email discussion...we boil down the discussion of symbols to:
- stars (concern that it would translate to "I give this 1 star" which is a bad review)
- plus sign (possibly accompanied with a minus sign, apropos to this discussion)
- thumbs up (concern about internationalization, this is a bad sign in some places)
We also consider lots of language and settle, temporarily, on "awesome."

And of course, Amazon implemented the "1-click" button back in 1999 that changed the game for them. The term "1-Click" is intuitively understandable - it screams ease, speed, and efficiency. Arguably, the button was one of the best marketing campaigns to create trust with an audience that was warming up to the idea of e-commerce.

“When we write the history of electronic commerce, the 1-Click patent … allowed Amazon to create a very strong position in the market.”–R. Polk Wagner

I'm willing to bet there's a ton of low hanging fruit in the crypto ecosystem right now where a few wording changes could dramatically augment user behavior.

It's important for all of us to continuously question the terms we take for granted in crypto today. Is this word or button actually effective? Will it naturally make sense to people who don't live on crypto Twitter?

Is there a term in crypto we use today that you think is ineffective or maybe even harmful? Reply to this e-mail with a word you think needs to be changed ASAP!

Connecting the unexpected

Julian Shapiro has a fantastic essay on the importance of relentless juxtaposition in the creative process:

This is my term for repeatedly combining unrelated elements from different approaches to see if they fit together into something spectacular.

The Design Everydays embodies this philosophy perfectly. How can we effectively combine nascent crypto features in ways that seem random and simple but would be immediately useful?

Freddy Anzures, the creator of Apple's slide to unlock has an amazing Ted Talk where he explains how to put your heart in your work. And one of the lessons he conveys is the importance of merging two things that seem ridiculous at first glance. Chances are that after doing this hundreds of times, you're bound to come up with something that is brilliant.

Freddy Anzures Ted Talk

Projects like Design Everydays help stretch our imagination and truly inspire those in the ecosystem. There's a ton left to build...we've barely scratched the surface.

My favorite idea was easily the ZK rent application mock up. I would have never actively combined Zillow and ZK in my head. But merging them together and seeing the design gave me a "woah" moment.

Naturally, most of us limit our ZK scope to "we need secure L2s" which of course is important. But seeing the tech used in an action as ubiquitous as applying for an apartment strikes a chord of familiarity and urgency.

Showing up daily

Lastly, what's so incredible about your work is the consistency. Thinking of a new idea and designing it everyday seems brutal. But that's exactly what makes the project special. Your work is proof that if you produce a lot of ideas, some are bound to be winners.

I'm personally trying to apply the same consistency with my writing this year: just show up and put words on paper daily.

That's all for today's letter!

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- YB

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