Augmenting users’ experience in DAOs for Newbies

Stanley Chidera
7 min readAug 8, 2022

Giving new users an amazing experience when interacting with DAOs.

Role: UX Researcher, UX Designer
Duration: 2 weeks
Tools Used: Figma, Figjam, Google meet, Google Docs & Notion
Industry: Blockchain, Decentralized Finance (Defi).

Overview

A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is an entity with no central leadership. Decisions are made bottom-up and governed by a community organized around a specific set of rules applied to a blockchain.

They are indigenous organizations owned and managed by their members. No hierarchical arrangement or administration can serve great purposes. DAOs have built-in treasuries that can only be accessed with member consent. Decisions are made through proposal voting, where users suggest making a decision as a proposal, and other users in the organization would vote on it for a period of time.

There is no central authority governing the organization as all activities are autonomous. and transparent. The rules are set by smart contracts created when the DAO was created. A strong and healthy protocol will lead to more usage and in turn, increase the value of the tokens each DAO member owns. The protocol succeeds, as do the token holders.

Understanding the Problem

That the blockchain and Defi space has grown exponentially in recent years is no longer news. It’s definitely an exaggeration in our world today. Newer features and solutions are being developed to solve financial problems and for decentralization. DAO, dApps, protocols, and other solutions are being developed to solve these problems. At the same time, one of the highlights of the blockchain, alongside cryptocurrencies, would concern decentralized autonomous organizations.

Newbies face difficulties before making their first meaningful contribution to a DAO: finding DAOs to join, understanding what they stand for, and how to make their first meaningful contribution. While DAOs look promising, they are still a fledgling invention with various problems or bad experiences that new users who have never used them before encounter when trying to interact with it.

Project Goals

After a careful understanding of the problem that new and existing users face when using a DAO, I have selected a list of goals that this project aims to meet and achieve in order to solve the problems that users are facing.

  • Seamless onboarding: Users should be able to onboard and start using DAO with ease.
  • A better understanding of DAO: Users should have a better understanding of what DAOs are, what they represent, and how to interact with them.
  • Give users a full understanding of what’s going on. They should be able to get feedback loops on the actions they are taking.
  • Simplicity: The project also aims to solve the existing problem of complexity experienced by users.
  • Consistency and Accessibility: Design a product that is consistent across all products and accessible to all.

Research

I started researching this topic by delving into the user environment, putting aside my own assumptions about how the experience should be, having to interview users (old and new users), studying more about existing DAO platforms and browsers, and Learning about blockchain technology by reading articles, books, watching videos and interacting with Defi Industry experts.

I was able to create a focus group of Defi users for research purposes, engaging them about the problems newbies might face when using a DAO and what potential solutions could be created. I asked them what they know about DAO, what problems they have while using the dApp, how they think it can be improved, what inspires them to continue using DAO platforms, what was their first time like, and other questions which helped me to better understand the problem.

After the interview, I noticed some major problems that newbies face. These are the main problems encountered.

User Personas

Upon further research, I was able to group and categorize users into three (3) user personas. They represent the group of users who would use a DAO for whatever purposes they want.

HMWs — How Might We(s)

I compiled all the information I gathered from researching DAOs and their problems to generate problem descriptions that would guide me through the ideation process involving brainstorming and finding a solution to solve the identified problems. I was able to come up with some HMW — How Might We(s)

Competitive Analysis

I tried other DAO explorers like DAOHaus, Tally, and Snapshot to identify the different strategies they use and their weaknesses to further strengthen my hypothesis and find a permanent solution to the problem. I was able to find ways to help my design solution and better work on its existing strength.

User Journey

After a few iterations and with the aim of creating a simple and easy-to-navigate product, I designed a user journey flow showing the steps a user would take to reach their goal when using a DAO and make a meaningful contribution. This flow helps with guidance and ensures the product maintains its simplicity and ease of navigation.

Ideating & Designing

This stage has to do with critical design thinking process after the previous stages have been completed and the problem statements are laid out. I started out by noting down the possible solutions to the problems.

Some solution ideas I was able to generate after the ideation process

Educational videos and Walkarounds.

Newbies who have little or no knowledge of DAO may have difficulty using it. Finding resources to use them is an additional task that would require them to look elsewhere. This could increase abandonment rates as the resources they may see could be a marketing ploy for a competitor. Introducing a short video clip on the landing page and DAO explorer that educates newbies about DAOs is a great way to increase adoption and reduce user churn.

Sample video used in this prototype was gotten from YouTube

Added an additional guide for newbies to show them what they can do in the DAO. This is important as it educates them on how they can make a significant contribution to the DAO.

Simplified Flow & Navigation.

Still, with the goal of making navigation easier, I’ve made sure that users experience less friction when trying to achieve a goal. In this sample prototype where a user delegates a vote, I made it take fewer clicks to achieve that goal — Delegate voting.

Feedback loops and Notifications

Feedbacks are another way that helps the user stay conscious of the current system status and the result of their action. Subtle feedbacks help increase user experience and this also helps build trust in the trust product.

Reduced Technical Jargons/Bogus words

Defi is a new technology and the words, terms or phrases are still strange to most people. Newbies get lost or confused when they encounter these strange bogus words with no meaning to them. This reduces user experience. The use of insightful tips on these words can be helpful as users get to learn what they mean, avoid making errors and increase the adoption rate, giving them a better experience.

Organized Presentation of Information

Organized data/information helps relieve stress and gives the user a better reason to fall in love with the product. As they can easily find all important information about a DAO without going through the stress of checking other DAO sites, platforms, or browsers. I have removed the unimportant information and presented the important information in a concise and orderly arrangement to improve the experience.

Functional & Consistent Designs

I created design components to guide me while designing and to produce a consistent design. This saved me a huge amount of time that can be used to build the product and make incremental improvements. Aiming for aesthetics, and consistency in design is important and paramount.

Key Findings & Takeaways

While working on this product, I ensured that I obeyed the Web3 principles to help give users a better experience. Designing for consistency, data transparency, feedback, trust, and newbie-mode.

Combining all principles into a product was not an easy one I made sure to keep the product simple. DAOs are Organizations, transparency in activities is a reason why we need DAOs.

Building Trust and increasing the experience that newbies get from onboarding to making a contribution and achieving their main goal is very important as it increases adoption, reduces drop-off rates, and makes the product scale.

I really enjoyed working on this product, as I was challenged by the problems but that was solved by proper research methodology and learning. It was fun learning and creating a solution for newbies.

Thanks for reading 😊

Want us to collaborate or wanna say “Hi”? Feel free to contact me

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Stanley Chidera

Product Designer | Focused on User-Centric Design, Blockchain Technologies, and Fintech | Designing for Humans.