Envisioning a Cryptoinfused World

Revealing where design fits to make a positive impact

Team & Duration

Solo, Spring 2018; 5 months

Role

User Researcher for Design

Deliverables & Methods

Deliverables: Master's Thesis, design strategies, conceptual user interfaces, design fictions, moodboards

Methods: Expert interviews, particapatory design workshop, literature reviews, design fictions, moodboards, SWOT analysis, Philip's Design Canvas framework

Brief

  • My Indiana University master’s thesis explores the implications of blockchain technologies using the lens of speculative futures.
  • Informed by user research, I convey design concepts and experiences that imagine a cryptoinfused world.
  • By highlighting the fundamental human challenges requisite in their interactions, I reveal where design fits to make a positive impact.

Problem

  • Blockchain’s success, a decentralized future enabling new ways for networks of people and things to transact, collaborate, organize, and identify themselves, depends on adoption by not only highly skilled and interested users, but everyday people who are trying to do their jobs, purchase goods, or just have fun.
  • The potential human impact of the lived experience of life on the ledger is too big to ignore.

Example of current blockchain-related interfaces

Goal

  • Through my research, I aimed to reframe the end-user experience of using blockchain technologies from feelings of intimidation and vulnerability towards being a fun, simple, and delightful experience.

Process

  • Rather than teaching people how it all works, I sought to reveal how it will change their lives. To imagine this I wrote design fictions to imagine a world where you can buy without middlemen such as merchants, banks, brokers, lawyers, real estate agents, notaries, etc. 
  • The design fiction stories were ultimately a way to further summarize all the research so far in a storytelling format rather than as a summary of information.
  • I used moodboards to convey the feeling of the design fiction stories in terms of general emotion, aesthetics, and experience to inspire the styles and concretize the correlating conceptual interfaces that incorporated the design strategies. This process reciprocally influenced the expression of rewriting how characters used these designs in the design fiction stories through more organic illustrations of the context.

Research Methods

Much like the early web, the blockchain ecosystem feels like the wild west. Relying on user research, I sought challenges currently faced in the space to find insights on where design intervention could best fit. My process was informed by, and included:

  1. conducting interviews with blockchain industry professionals at IBM, Bottr, InterChange, and CoinLib, and a Mathematics instructor;
  2. leading a participatory design workshop introducing the underlying principles of the blockchain to audiences through Lego;
  3. accessing a wide range of sources across Reddit, GitHub whitepapers, podcasts, news media, YouTube, blogs, Twitter; and two books.
  • Mixing storytelling and imagery, I wrote design fictions and crafted moodboards to forecast the speculative implications, and look beyond blockchain today raising a series of possibilities about future issues that affect our social fabric with new interactions.
  • Addressing the challenges, I propose three design strategies incorporating trust-building and educational elements.
  • I envision these through conceptual user experiences depicting optimistic, game-like interfaces, ways to transmit transparency, and ways analogies can be used to distill the complexities of blockchain.

 

Some selected examples of these can be seen below!

Conceptual Interface: Digital Bill

Two selected moodboards (The Bill, The Internet of Way Too Many Things) out of the seven that convey the feeling of the design fiction stories in terms of general emotion, aesthetics, and experience to inspire the styles and concretize the correlating conceptual interfaces that incorporated the design strategies

Conceptual Interface: Cryptowallet

Conceptual Interface: Identity

Conceptual Interface: On-Demand Service

Conceptual Interface: Universal Shopping Cart

Framework and SWOT Analysis'

Full Thesis

  • An overview can be viewed on the poster or the booklet 
  • For the full research check the final report
  • If you're just interested in browsing the conceptual interfaces and design fiction, they're linked below
  • Also, check out the crypto-ads that were part of my presentation 

Design Fictions and Moodboards