I was reading the Sun newspaper the other day and there was some article yapping on about Safemoon –
a new pyramid scheme a new cryptocoin thingy that has increased in value by infinity since it was launched yesterday. Or something. And I be all like “how easy will the average Sun reader find buying Safemoon?” and “what will I spend my Safemoon profits on once I get obscenely rich?!”
And with a steely determination and because I like exploring UX in new ways, I found out!
Tl;dr the average Sun reader has no chance buying Safemoon. Buying Safemoon turns out to be very difficult (thankfully).
OK, so why is it so difficult?
You have to know the cryptocurrency ecosystem really well to navigate around it properly. Otherwise you’re going to make dumb mistakes and lose all your money.
As a UXer I can define problems as falling into three categories and I’m going to quote Donald Rumsfeld because I’m insane:
- Known unknowns – “I know there will be fees but I don’t know where they will occur”
- Unknown unknowns – “I didn’t know that even existed and that’s fucked bro”
- Bad UX – “this form has labels inside the fields so I’ve no idea what I’ve just typed”
It’s the second class of problem that will really trip you up unless you know the space really goddam well. And it appears I’m not alone. Here’s a few folks on Reddit and the interwebs with some choice quotes:
I just tried to transfer BNB from my trust wallet to my binance account and it never arrived.A. User
Hi, Please contact the customer support of Binance so they can assist you with the deposit issue. If they are not willing to recover or credit it, then, unfortunately, you may consider it as lost. Triple-check next time before transacting.A. Adminy Person
So it feels like there are critical things you need to know but during a typical user’s journey, this information isn’t obvious.
Let’s take a look in more detail when I tried to buy Safemoon (not a scam, honest).
I go to some website and there’s a button called Buy Safemoon and when I press it I get to a checkout screen where I can put in my payment details and maybe some information where it can be sent to (a crypto wallet or stored on an account on a website etc).
Spend some time finding out where you can buy Safemoon and it turns out you can’t directly. You need to exchange it for another crypto currency on something called Pancakeswap. OK, right. Go to Reddit and discover you need a crypto currency wallet to run Pancakeswap on. Find one called Trust Wallet. Install that on your phone. OK cool. Next, figure out that your wallet needs funds you can convert into Safemoon. OK! Right! So I use Kraken and I’ve blogged about that before but I’ve heard of another platform called Binance so I think I’ll give that a spin. Go to Binance and sign up for an account which includes sending proof of ID etc, DNA from a first born child and a copy of the Bible in braille.
Buy some coins to exchange on Pancakeplace. I bought some Ethereum but then I had to figure out how to send them to my wallet and found this form:
And this is where it gets difficult. I don’t know what Transfer network means. But I’m impatient and can’t be bothered finding out because I’m a Sun reader and hate immigrants and I arrogantly assume the funds will get to the wallet regardless. Select second radio option and specify my wallet address and hit send.
And wait some more.
And the funds never arrive. Just…gone into thing air. Panic. Go to Kraken and perform the same task but on Kraken they don’t ask you about Transfer networks. Funds arrive in my wallet in minutes. Go to Reddit and become one of those folks I quoted above. After some research find out that the funds are in my wallet….just not on the network my wallet is set to. Hey ho. Panic a bit less now.
So I guess I can play with the funds in my wallet, whatever network they’re on. But I need to figure out how to swap them in Pancakeface. Go to Reddit and see I have to install a Dapp onto my Trust Wallet because it’s IOS and yeah. Herm. Anyway, install a Dapp and find Pancakeswap. Load up Pancakeswap and see full funds! Yay! OK now swap over some ETH to Safemoon! Yay! Click swap. Oh nose! I can’t! I need BNB coin as transfer fees! Oh nose. Try to buy BNB on Wallet. Can’t. So go back to Binance to buy BNB. Click buy. But oh nose! Binance has suspended my account so I can’t make any financial transactions! Fiddlesticks.
I tell the kindly folks over at r/cryptocurrency and am met with a tired sigh and rolled eyes. It’s clear: do not buy Safemoon bc it’s unusually risky. But I have another problem: I can’t get at my funds I transferred over from Binance bc I selected the wrong network. I message some Redditors directly and u/cryptpot figures what I need to do is run a bridge transfer that translates my Ethereum on one network to the network my Trust wallet is on. We do that and the funds arrive….but $40 short bc of fees. Ouch. Known unknowns.
Sometime later, like over a week later, Binance write back about why my account is suspended:
Really helpful Binance!
- The cypto space is very fragmented and is a tough place for beginners. I tell you what though: the company that can design a service that simplifies the onboarding process for novices will make a killing “buy Idiotcoin on our platform now”
- Extra control and freedom for the user equates to extra freedom to fuck up:
it sucks but that’s the way it goes. I sent 1k into the void a few weeks agoAN Other
So why ask it? It’s one of those unknown unknowns and I’d far rather use a service that did all this automatically, behind the scenes. Is this possible?
3. Interaction design across the space is….utterly, comically, rubbish. For example, Binance is a bitch and highly unintuitive. I’d urge newbies to steer clear until you really know what you’re doing, especially when they can’t get their Reset Security Verification pattern correct:
My phone battery is dead so I need to get in via email. But when you do that the geniuses over at Binance ask you to enter a new phone number. In China:
Other examples: form labels inside fields. Which has implications when your computer pre-populates because it thinks one of them is a password field:
Last field isn’t a password field:
It’s a Master Key field but it’s been pre-populated with Password data by the computer. Error.
Another example: forms giving you the option to select something from a drop down:
But the option isn’t valid:
- Error prevention. An option is given that isn’t valid
- Help users recognise, diagnose, and recover from errors. No content tells me why the option isn’t valid or why I can’t select it
Anyway, I could go on and on and on but I feel I’m dancing on the edge of a UX singularity and may get sucked in by it’s crushing gravitational maw, never to escape except maybe to shift books around a shelf by minuscule amounts at some point in the distant past. Ummmm…..