The landscape of technology is ever-evolving, with innovation and breakthroughs constantly sweeping through the industry. However, amidst the buzz and excitement that comes with these advancements, one fundamental principle often gets overlooked – understanding the consumer.
Tech companies, from Silicon Valley giants to Web3 startups, are often enamored with creating new technology, frequently at the expense of their users. Web3 companies, in particular, seem to struggle with this issue right from the start.
The oversight of consumer desires is not just a minor misstep; it’s a critical error that determines the success or failure of a product, service, or application. This is a problem that we are seeing en masse in the Web2 world, with companies like Reddit and Twitter squandering the dedication of the user base in favor of misguided “innovation.”
Reddit, a network of communities where people can dive into their interests, hobbies, and passions, recently came under fire for their purge of third-party applications. Users had been accessing their favorite community forums through various applications with differing features and user experiences, such as Apollo, which was highly popular due to its slick user interface and customizable features. When Reddit announced it would be banning such applications, users were irate, and thousands of subreddits went dark to protest the decision. Despite the uproar, Reddit leadership stuck with their unpopular choice, effectively alienating a significant portion of their community.
Similarly, Twitter underwent a dramatic transformation after Elon Musk’s $44B takeover of the platform, now technically called “X.” The changes include aesthetic modifications and altered ways for users to interact with the site. Paid subscriptions for verification have replaced Twitter’s traditionally opaque process of appeal, with verified users getting various privileges that unverified users do not have. This overhaul, along with an 80% reduction in the workforce, has left users feeling alienated and frustrated.
Web3 companies face similar challenges, with a focus on metrics such as total value locked leading to a reliance on targeting whales to drive those metrics. However, this “build for whales” approach overlooks the need for a thriving ecosystem that caters to all users, not just the ones with significant financial resources.
In order to thrive, Web3 needs to focus on creating easy-to-use, easily accessible products that can naturally progress users into the ecosystem. The onboarding process for Web3 projects is often too complex and requires a level of knowledge and familiarity that goes beyond what is necessary for mass adoption.
While Web3 applications offer innovative benefits such as decentralized ownership and various economic incentives, they are being adopted at a slow pace due to clunky user experiences and a lengthy onboarding process. It is clear that there are pressing challenges impeding the adoption of these applications, but once these challenges are addressed, Web3 has the potential to take off.
The key lesson for founders and technologists building new products in the Web3 space is to learn from the successes and failures of the web revolution that came before them. By prioritizing user experience and understanding the needs of their consumers, Web3 startups can avoid alienating their user base and create a thriving ecosystem that truly serves its users.