Understanding Linea and Mantle Mainnet Alpha Launch
Let's learn about the emerging Layer 2s Linea & Mantle and their Mainnet Alpha launch.
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Learn why better User Interface (UI), and User Experience (UX) is required for DeFi Insurance.
The world of cryptocurrencies and DeFi is not an easy one to navigate. Even the developers who make the dApps we all use sometimes get caught out by confusing UIs or the intricacies of dealing with multiple chains and tokens. More than one unfortunate soul has paid a huge miner fee in Ethereum because they entered the transaction into the wrong box in their wallet, or lost a stablecoin because they transferred it to an address on the wrong blockchain. For mainstream adoption to come, the industry as a whole needs to start paying more attention to UI and UX.
Many people who work in or actively trade in the world of cryptocurrencies are quite comfortable with the command line, and even those who aren't are at least deeply familiar with the concept of gas fees, layer 2 solutions, smart contracts and private keys. The same can't be said for the wider population. As Vince Major explained in his recent Devcon talk, "My Mother Hates Your Project (And Mine)!" the world of crypto and DeFi needs to start investing in soft skills if it's going to successfully make the leap from obscure niche to truly mainstream industry. But, what does good UI look like?
A good UI for a blockchain or DeFi app could be considered to have three key attributes:
To elaborate, apps should be as simple as possible to use. That means clean UIs with large buttons and clear labels. Yes, DeFi insurance can be a complex field, and the app may need to have a lot of power, but not all of the features need to be revealed to the user immediately. Start with the most frequently used and important ones, and guide the user to the more advanced things as and when they're likely to need them.
DeFi insurance apps should be transparent. They should provide users with information about what they're doing at each stage. The user is trusting the app with their money, so they need to know what is going on at each stage. Ideally, this should be presented in a human-readable form rather than Solidity or some other smart contract language code.
Literacy can be a challenge. People don't tend to read everything that's put in front of them. Rather, they scan for key details — a green sign showing something completed successfully or a red X indicating an error. Use visual aids and jargon-free explanations to communicate key details in addition to the technical terms that your power users may want to see.
Neptune Mutual’s head of design said,
Maximize user experience is one of our four design principles that guides all our design choices at Neptune Mutual. Outstanding UX is dependent not only on great UI but also on other factors. This means that user requirements need to be considered thoroughly by all our teams when making improvements to our marketplace dApp. For example, we have recently redesigned our website to improve it in terms of performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO, which in turn creates better responsiveness and load speed. It is also important to have a mindset of user centricity: continuous improvement, a relentless focus on detail, and of course an open communication line with our community of users to listen to their feedback.
The traditional software industry spends almost three-quarters of a billion dollars per year on usability testing tools. If the DeFi Insurance industry started to invest in user research in a similar fashion, they could piggyback on that existing research and make huge strides in terms of the accessibility of their projects.
At Neptune Mutual, we take testing seriously. Our gamified testnet launch in 2022 produced valuable feedback from users, and we've run similar initiatives on other chains. As developers, it's easy to become so focused on how we want people to use our apps, and opening them up to the public so they can experiment with them in a risk-free environment is the best way to see how users actually engage with the DeFi insurance tools we provide.
Web2.0 best practices are a good starting point for designing DeFi insurance apps. However, they don't cover everything that users are likely to encounter or want to do when engaging with Web3. Right now, we're still in the early stages of DeFi adoption. As developers, we need to be mindful of the fact many of our users are still cryptocurrency novices who need to be educated as they go.
We need to train our users to understand what's going on with DeFi, and also reinforce good habits. How many times have you, as a crypto and DeFi native, found yourself connecting your Metamask to an unfamiliar website that opened in a new window, or thoughtlessly pasting your Nostr private keys into yet another web app, simply trusting the app isn't going to hijack your account?
With careful UI design, DeFi insurance developers can help newcomers understand the jargon they'll see elsewhere, and also learn good habits so they're as safe as possible when interacting with dExes and dApps online.
At Neptune Mutual, we're at the forefront of DeFi insurance, both in terms of aiming to provide polished UIs and powerful parametric cover on the backend. We aim to build trust in the crypto industry, and one way to do this is with intelligent, careful UI design. AI is becoming more accessible and powerful every month, and one area that it could help with is UI design. In the near future, apps could customize their UIs based on a user's history and preferences.
For example, someone who trades primarily on Arbitrum doesn't need to be bombarded with on-chain options. Someone who has never locked up funds for a long time before could be given an extra warning if they're about to choose a long staking option for a large portion of their funds. Small improvements such as these could go a long way toward improving the user experience for DeFi natives and novices alike.
There is enormous potential to improve UI/UX both for existing and new users as a result of the benefits that will flow from the introduction of the EIP-4337 standard; we published an article about this recently as it is very exciting news for the industry.
The builders, traders and cypherpunks who kick-started cryptocurrencies may accept quirky or challenging user interfaces, but the mainstream market will not. We hope to see DeFi become just as accessible as share trading on apps like Robinhood, and that's why we've worked so hard on polishing our cover pool interfaces and offering grants and bounties to improve our tools. If you have ideas for building next-gen DeFi insurance tools that anyone can use, we'd love to hear from you.