The crypto ecosystem relies mainly on DYOR (Do Your Own Research), a newly adapted tagline or slogan for this go-get-it culture we live in. That's yesterday's news.
However, it doesn't really matter if you're a seasoned crypto enthusiast or a newbie trying to navigate the turbulent waters of a new digital blue ocean… At some point, you thought:
"How do I know if I'm researching the right stuff, the right way?"
Words less, words more, that's what it all boils down to. Finding a reliable source of information to do your own research with a guide.
Even more if you're a Blockchain designer, Blockchain developer, Marketing Manager, or just want to become one and pursue a new career in the Web3 universe.
That's why we at Spark + Mint will start from scratch and lay the groundwork for Blockchain technology, what it is, how it works, and how you can apply Web3 design practices to your Blockchain development efforts.
So, without further ado… Let's get the ball rolling.
Let's start laying out some foundational aspects. According to IBM, taking a more technical approach to the Blockchain, they define it as "a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible (a house, car, cash, land) or intangible (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, branding). Nothing of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved."
Blockchain technology, in plain English, strives to make information exchange more accessible, immutable, and secure than regular data-sharing applications. This allows parties to share and receive critical information in less time, only accessible to those explicitly allowed to.
Think of it as having a safe house with unique keys only you and a handful of people you trust have access to.
So, as a quick recap, we can agree that Blockchain technology acts as a distributed and extra-safe digital ledger that can store data of any kind, at any time, in a fast and reliable way. Not much to add to it.
There's no coincidence Blockchain includes the word 'block' in the spelling.
Like 101blockchains explains, "In a blockchain, there is a linear chain of blocks, and each block is connected to the previous block. How? Each of the blocks contains four key components:
These four components essentially create the skeleton of the entire Blockchain."
Now, a quick translation — Blockchain technology, in simple terms, works as a decentralized database and stores data, working like a literal chain of interconnected blocks.
First, data is entered into a block that gets assigned a Hash (a given function). That Hash is also chained to a previous has value, following the chain of commands. Finally, each data entered has Metadata, like timestamps or block numbers.
A comprehensive chain of values that make information exchange and security seamless.
Blockchain technology has massive benefits for many industries, and it's easy to adapt to design, development, and execution.
However, we'll first lay out the details at a high level before deep-diving into the specifics.
As Forbes mentions, there are 4 key aspects to consider as benefits of using Blockchain technology regardless of your industry.
But what does this even mean, right?
First, transparency is something that Blockchain technology waves as a flag. Transaction ledgers are open to public view, which adds a robust layer of accountability to act in pro of the company's growth and its own reputation.
Now, efficiency is also a benefit that takes the crown — it mainly eliminates the need of having middlemen chiming in your transactions and charging crazy fees.
When we talk about better security, we mean that Blockchain technology enables companies to protect their assets with higher capacity. Each transaction is linked to a previous one and totally encrypted.
Taking their own words for it, "This immutable and incorruptible nature of Blockchain makes it safe from falsified information and hacks. Its decentralized nature also gives it a unique quality of being 'trustless' – meaning that parties do not need trust to transact safely."
Like an incorruptible safety net for information exchange.
And, finally, improved traceability — like leaving a trace of footprints to understand where the assets or information comes from, preventing fraud, or just verifying the authenticity of the transferred assets.
Magic in the making.
That's a common question we get at Spark + Mint.
"If I want to create on Blockchain, should I go for a BTC-based structure or ETH?"
And hey, it truly depends on what you want to achieve. So let's first differentiate between both mechanisms.
Let's say Bitcoin works as some sort of digital version of gold. Why? Because it's scarce, durable, and easily interchangeable and divided. Besides its value, of course. It's also the first digital currency ever created and the waving flag of the Web3 ecosystem.
Now, Ethereum (also a digital currency) is more similar to a decentralized computer for the world, as it is where most networks run decentralized applications.
More similarities? They are both based on Blockchain technology and are decentralized (AKA — not regulated by centralized entities).
Now, here's where it gets controversial:
Are BTC and ETH really competitors? Or are they the perfect complement for each other?
That's what it all falls back to. BTC is more included to function as a store of value, while ETH is used to interact with apps to create more decentralized apps.
So, if you're a Web3 developer or Web3 designer, you must ask yourself:
"What am I really trying to create?"
Having this sorted out in advance will save time, headaches, and guesswork.
If your main objective is to create tradable assets to store value, perhaps the BTC Blockchain is where you want to get yourself into.
If you're more into decentralized applications, ETH is what makes a bit more sense for its perks and leverage ability.
An excellent source for more in-depth information on key differences between BTC and ETH can be found here in this fantastic article by Cointelegraph — it saves a lot of research time.
Design principles are those elements that must be present and considered when creating visual experiences for a particular audience.
There are specific elements. So we'll name the most important to set the scene.
See, Blockchain is built on trust. If you want people to use your interphase and exchange assets or create apps, they need to trust you in every single way.
And that's where design magic comes in.
For example, if you want users to trust you and navigate your application, you must have a human-centered approach to visual experiences and execution. This means making content and navigation intuitive, so even if not tech-savvy people use it, they can accomplish their goals.
Nothing is more frustrating than not understanding what is happening and what to do next, so as a Web3 and Blockchain designer, you need to create for everyone, not just the experts.
Now, talking about trust — design must meet that expectation. Blockchain technology functions to exchange sensitive information, so plan and interphase must be as reliable. That's why your application must be as transparent as possible.
And, finally, simplicity — less is more. Taking Merge words for this one, simplicity is achievable through "a single design language to stick with it as much as possible. It helps users navigate your product easily, identify where they are at any given time, and recognize what actions they can take next. Your blockchain project will be more successful if it has a clean and uncluttered interface that follows a consistent design language throughout."
According to the UX Design Collective, keeping it simple is still king. And that's how language and communication become crucial.
Like they say in their Design Principles for Web3 article:
"Reducing the amount of technical jargon. There's a whole new vocabulary that's floating around when it comes to Blockchain. Websites that simplify languages for the average person to digest will be miles ahead. I'm thinking of de-fi (aka decentralized finance) dApps especially, with words like liquidity pools, mining, tokens, protocols, smart contracts… I mean if you're not in the world of Blockchain, you might as well have had been reading hieroglyphics. Using technical language makes it harder for users to understand the value of your dApp. Where language can't be obfuscated, glossaries and help icons should be implemented to help the user understand and refer back to. (See example of Ethereum's glossary). Understandably, where dApps might have different target audiences (e.g. Golem for developers), this might warrant different language. But for the majority of dApps that are aimed at the general masses, keep the language accessible, especially on the home page."
Because, think about it: You may be an expert, but following the DYOR dilemma, most users are either not experts or on their way to becoming one — so as simple as you can go is always the best.
A fantastic way to explain the problem and how to speak the same language your audience does is through video explainers.
Like Metamask did, for example.
This allows them to address the problem and bridge the information gap in a clear, user-engaging way.
Another best practice to consider is enabling easy access to private key management, like Mayank Sharma says in his article:
"The private keys that enable users to access their digital wallets aren't easy to store. People sometimes forget to back them up or don't know how to do so. These keys cannot be recovered once lost: There is no "reset password" option. Designers can solve this problem by following the example of MetaMask and providing each user with a seed phrase, a series of words that can be used to unlock their wallet.
Designers also need to warn users that their funds will be inaccessible and vulnerable to theft if they lose their private keys or seed phrases. Such a message should pop up in a user's wallet app, first as a notification when setting up the wallet and then as a recurring reminder on a preset schedule."
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Until next time,
The Spark + Mint Team
How Weavik's Investment helped Spark + Mint come to life.
I'd been thinking about starting a new Design Studio that would focus exclusively on Web3 ventures, but I didn't want the domain focus to be the only point of differentiation.
I wanted our design studio to embrace the same core principles that were starting to form in the Web3-verse, and I wanted to go beyond the fee for service model and participate in future value we'd be creating for the companies that we'd partner with.
Venture capital is a well defined practice, but Creative Capital (inspired by FKTRY) is a lesser understood business model which is ideal for a world where new digital assets like Crypto and Tokens literally represent the value that's being created in the marketplace.
I shared some of this early thinking with Brian Haacke, who was in the midst of growing a 40+ person dev agency called Weavik in Waterloo, and had recently exited a specialist Web3 Development Agency that he helped start a few years back.
Not only was Brian excited by the idea, he quickly shared that he'd already been actively working for months to get a very similar studio off the ground only, he couldn't find anyone passionate & experienced enough to lead it.
Timing is everything in life and you just can't make this stuff up.
After a few weeks of bouncing around ideas of how to get things going, a few things became clear:
- We could spin out a Design Team rather rapidly out of Weavik and begin to separate the design & development operations.
- There was strong demand within some of Weavik's active engagements for specialized Web3 Design + Brand support.
We were both set on the name "Spark + Mint", the Creative Capital model and by all the enthusiasm that emerged whenever we shared our model with others in the Web3 space.
All we really needed was some backing and time. Weavik stepped in and stepped up as a foundational partner to help us with a series of investments and strategic introductions to get Spark + Mint to the point that we are today.
In just a few short months, we've already been operating at full capacity in Q1/Q2 different ventures and are now 10 people strong and counting on this inspired mission to help co-design a more open, free and fair Web + World.
Together with Weavik, Spark + Mint now has the wherewithal to execute against the most ambitious Web3 projects from ideation, strategy and design through to full stack development, deployment and maintenance through our symbiotic technology partnership with Weavik.
The processes, frameworks and skillsets that our team brings to the fore isn't fundamentally different from that of design agencies & studios in the Web2 arena.
With that said, it's not an exaggeration to state that Web3 changes absolutely everything and the greatest differentiation lies in the disposition and intention a team takes to navigate all these changes in an ever changing, dynamic and unpredictable sea of activities.
Web3 changes the way we work, the types of companies that are possible to create, the types of value we're able to generate, share, exchange, own and liquidate.
This new era of computing and entrepreneurship creates a space where people can become more participatory and not simply exist as customers.
Tokens and cryptocurrencies, empower us through representative ownership on these new decentralized blockchains.
These changes bring with them a ton of user experience and design challenges that require us to match the technological innovation with what we're calling "Decentralized Design Thinking" (DDT).
We're cementing our commitment to persistently learn and share our knowledge with the global design community through our DDT Media arm that will be generating global reports and podcasts to help us all engage in these critical discussions around how we want to co-design this new era of civilization.
As we forge ahead day by day, Spark + Mint will be creating a new, more inclusive way for everyone who wants to join us in our mission to design the future. Through decentralized technology including web2 to web3 project based learning opportunities and partnering with educationally minded Foundations, Startups and Institutions in assistance to onboard more passionate & intelligent designers, makers and artists into this new Web3 reality.
whether you're looking to start a new venture, partner or co-create something remarkable - our doors are always open for a virtual or in-person chat. You can reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a time with me here.