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Michal Shachman
Sep 13, 2019

Intimidation Cancels Conversion


Launching your first product is no easy venture. Long hours, endless task lists and self-doubt are just a few elements involved in bringing your idea to life. The way you approach all these challenges is what will ultimately determine the success of your launch.

Mockup Preview Molecule Catalyst
Mockup Preview of Molecule Catalyst Prototype V1.6 — Discover Page (September 2019) (Project displayed is an EXAMPLE ONLY)

Launching your first product is no easy venture. Long hours, endless task lists and self-doubt are just a few elements involved in bringing your idea to life. The way you approach all these challenges is what will ultimately determine the success of your launch.

Many of these hurdles are complex, but some of them are surprisingly straight forward; is your product something that you have to convince people to use, or are you building a product that people will inherently like to use? For that reason, when considering User Experience (UX), one method to safeguard yourself from the unexpected is through Usability Testing.

Setting the Stage for Usability Testing

The User Interfaces (UI) for navigating through blockchain and Web 3.0 products are still in the early stages of development. Therefore, building a user-facing blockchain product in this environment brings along challenges within UI design, given this, we at Molecule identified the importance of usability testing for our launch of Molecule Catalyst.

Usability testing is a way to test a prescribed list of tasks on potential users, investigating and exploring “why” and “how” they use a product. The advantage of this UX research method is that it allows for capturing extremely valuable qualitative insights and observations, which enables an exploratory approach to formulate design solutions for a product.

Usability Testing = Tailoring = Good Product

However, this solution is not a silver bullet. It needs to be conducted in steps, each giving more insight into what the perspective of the product is and how to tailor it to the user, these are:

  1. Identifying user testers
  2. Carrying out the test plan
  3. Capturing and analyzing observations
  4. Creating design solutions for implementation

1. Identifying and Recruiting User Testers

Choosing the correct users was crucial to begin our process, as we needed to find participants who were as close to our target users as possible. To identify who our target users would be, we conducted preliminary interviews with company stakeholders to narrow down all the general ideas into a single user persona we wanted to focus on. This proved to be an important step as it was a way to create an internal consensus on who the most important target user for our product would be.

Following this, we refined the recruitment of user testers based on a screening questionnaire. The list of questions touched on the users’ basic knowledge of blockchain tech and related key concepts, as well as any previous experience with crypto and crowdfunding. It also delved into their opinions on Research and Development (R&D) in science, and what fields of research they would be interested in supporting:

fields of research longevity psychedelics biohacking rare diseases
Last question of the Usability Testing screening questionnaire given to all participants.

2. Carrying out the Test Plan

We created a test plan to scope out what scenarios we wanted to test and identify the areas where potential problems could lie.

Our general scope included:

Goal — Test main user interactions within focused test segments of the product and find out if users have a “good/easy” understanding of what they see.

Format and Setting — Mixture of in-person and remote testing sessions. All the tests had to be semi-structured, exploratory, and driven by capturing qualitative data.

Recording — Record the participants’ full screen (visual and audio) as they take the test.

Metrics — Focus on subjective metrics. Ask the participants to give their rating (rating of 1–5, 1 being very good/easy and 5 being very hard/bad) of their experiences directly related to:

  1. Usability/Difficulty of use (rating of 1–5)
  2. Interface visuals aesthetics/usefulness (rating of 1–5)
  3. Understandability (rating of 1–5)

3. Capturing and Analyzing Observations

The user testers were asked a series of pre-test questions which allowed for a great introduction to our participants and a micro-snapshot of what people in (and outside) of the blockchain space think:

Three main questions in the pre-test session. Used as a precursory session at the beginning of the test to get acquainted with the participant and gain an initial set of good User Research into each user.


80% of user testers immediately acknowledged that our platform is a form of crowdfunding and likened it to Kickstarter. This was great to see as one of our goals for the UI design was to keep it familiar for our user testers. We were also pleased to find that the overall opinion and experience of each of the pages were generally positive:

Thematic Analysis of what were the successes of product through Usability Testing (including positive feedback) based on themes of Efficiency, Recognition, and Effortlessness.


In general, there were a few key themes to improve on and consider;

  • 50% of user testers thought the scientific terms/jargon was overwhelming.
  • 50% of user testers acknowledged the use of Dai on our platform but were worried that most “other” users would not know what it was.
  • Almost all the user testers voiced concern about what they perceived “other” users could have regarding confusion on technological terms and the strong barrier of entry on platforms such as ours.
Thematic Analysis of what were the successes of product through Usability Testing (including negative feedback) based on themes of Efficiency, Recognition, and Effortlessness.

The Enigma of Token Bonding Curves

When our user testers interacted with the Token Bonding Curve (TBC) graph it seemed as though any prior exposure or knowledge they had with TBCs did not assist them well enough when trying to interpret it within our product. Our observations of stress points and confusions (based on the user testers “thinking aloud” while they went through the task) are depicted below:

Observational results based on what user testers were thinking, doing, and saying out loud while they were going through test segments related to the TBC graph.

The subjective metrics for the TBC graph highlighted problems of confusion. This resulted in misalignment of usability, quality/usefulness of the interface visuals, and the observed understandability:

Subjective metric results based on user testers’ rating of TBC graph, combined with an observational rating of understandability based on follow-up questions for use of TBC graph.

If you want to learn more about Token Bonding curves, read these articles:

Token Bonding Curve Design Parameters

An introduction to bonding curves, shapes and use cases

ETHCapeTown Hack: Learn to Play with Bonding Curves

Overall Analysis

Many of our user testers relied on both recall and recognition in order to understand the TBC graph and other novel functions that make our product unique. However, it was the combination that resulted in confusions because:

1) there was not a great amount of information displayed in plain sight, and 2) their past experience of use for any of the functions in our product (especially interpreting the TBC graph) was not extensive enough.

Therefore, to be able to mitigate these problems a balance will need to be found, whereby there is not a dominant reliance on recall over recognition. This concept is known as the problem of cognitive friction.

Cognitive friction occurs when a user is confronted with an interface or affordance that appears to be intuitive but delivers unexpected results.


Below, is a condensed list of additional observations of both the successes and problems made by the user testers and those we identified:

  • Showcasing the affiliated universities and their logos validates the projects.
  • The addition of a “forum section” would create the opportunity for valuable input from externals and a more open-source environment.
  • Watching the transaction signing in MetaMask can become timeous because every action needs an additional confirmation which makes it more cumbersome.
  • Tutorials/educational content for aspects such as MetaMask and the Token Bonding Curves are needed to clarify any misunderstandings and confusion.
  • The interface was very text-heavy, more visuals and graphs will help make information easier to digest.

4. Our Design Solutions for Web 3.0 UX Optimization

Through our testing, we have identified where the needs to offset confusions are, to allow for a simpler interpretation process to optimize UX.

We need to create educational content on the use of our product highlighting the unique aspects, enhance recognition through good use of consistent UI design, and always keep an open approach to new ways of displaying technically dense information.

Conclusion: Next Steps for Implementation

Ultimately, a point of focus would be to look into the aspects which are novel to our product and to constantly optimize understanding around those. Therefore, our list of solutions to implement after this round of testing would be:

  1. Create a “taxonomy of words” document so that our language remains not only simple and direct but that the technical terms we use and their definitions remain more consistent and unified throughout the product. This should be made with special attention to all terms around the TBC graphs and key concepts.
  2. Compile an instructional guide or learning resource which will be available to users online. This should be able to provide the necessary education before using the product. This includes adding additional content (in the form of disclaimers, short instructions, descriptions) regarding the use of the product in strategic sections with priority given to the TBC graph while using the product.
  3. Create a unique set of branding/aesthetics for all novel functions on the product (perhaps even MetaMask transactions). This will keep the UI consistent over the product and blend it into the unique experience we would like to create.

In a follow-up article, we will delve into the changes that we implemented specifically for our product. Please keep in touch if you would like to hear about any updates coming up in the near future!

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