Celsius Network Employment Pitch, v2
Understanding the Role of Design
There appears to be a blind spot at Celsius Network as to the role of product design (including user experience design, user interface design, et al). This is not uncommon with technology firms, but if we are going to bring in "the next 100 million users onto the blockchain" we will have to address this. The problem lies in the difficulty for developers to see things from the users' perspective. Often the scope of design is seen as merely the cosmetic or branding aspects of a product. One developer I worked with (a brilliant mind) would tell me, "We build the application, then we'll give it to you to pretty it up before launch (if we have time)."
The actual scope of product design could not be any greater. Design being the discipline of applying reason to our goals, it should be as extensive as needed to secure its ends. Design is the "measure" in "Measure twice, cut once." Design considers all practical aspects at the intersection of the user's desires and the business goals in order to guarantee success.
Communication and Context
Communication is a good paradigm through which to view design of the user interface. And a key component of communication is context. Words have meaning within sentences, sentences within paragraphs, those within passages, stories, and so on, all the way up to the context of life itself.
The celsius.network website and the Celsius Wallet app have communication context issues throughout and on many levels. Users have various levels of technical aptitude and are at different stages in their journeys with both the technical aspects of blockchain and the macro- and micro-economics questions that impact their personal financial well-being. We must not ignore any of these aspects, nor leave them to others to solve for our users. At the same time, we cannot take a shotgun approach, overwhelming our users with all related information at full volume. We must hit that sweet spot of just the right amount of information while presenting it hierarchically and layered so it is elegant in its simplicity and in its effectiveness.
User Empathy Driving User-Centric Design
The methodology to achieve this begins with analysis of the user experience from the broad scope of the user flow down to individual design elements, based on individual user personas we identify. User personas should consider the many facets of our users’ journeys to the goal each is currently working toward. Immersing ourselves in empathy for the user will assure we tailor all design decisions geared to assuring a successful outcome for the user. As a very new crypto fanatic, the pain points are very fresh to me and I have left a trail of breadcrumbs in my mind so I can help others.
Practical Design Gets the Job Done
"Pretty" is a good goal—we don’t want to intimidate users with an overly-technical interface. But aesthetics must be balanced with the practical. There need be no conflict here. Our users have a practical task to complete which may significantly impact their lives and we cannot fool around with that. We have a difficult task; we must get down to business. Aesthetics and the practical must work in unison to get the job done!
Complexity and Simplicity—Solving for Opposing Goals
As stated above, we have an inherently complex subject matter—both the technology and the financial aspects combine to make this situation among the most difficult to design for. Given that our users run the gamut of knowledge and experience, but that our particular emphasis will be on the newbie with little technical aptitude, we have diametrically opposed goals of sophistication and simplicity.
Designers faced with this situation often err in either direction—overwhelming the user with complexity or over-simplifying—few get it right. You can’t just try to strike a happy medium by including a degree of complexity. This may work for some users, but will hurt both the users that need simplicity and those that need the complexity in order to succeed. Such a difficult project requires a designer of the highest level of skills and experience.
Aesthetics—Reliable, Yet Hip—Solving for Competing Goals
In the current Celsius Network interfaces there seems to be an attempt to appeal to youth with a post-modern aesthetic. While this is executed well in the CEL Bites topical video shorts, it falls short on the website and app. Seemingly random treatment of font, color, and content in general may add a very slight sense of a postmodern chaotic aesthetic, but at what cost? (I imagine some of the poor organization is just a result of rapid growth or poorly thought through categories—we can fix that too!) Communication is key to the success of the core goals of the business. We need to define a plan to meet aesthetic objectives without compromising other business goals.
One of our goals ought to be to bring order to the chaos that users perceive. This is lacking in Celsius Network interfaces. This is not “user friendly”.
Start with Well-Defined Goals, Iterate, and Recalibrate
Part of a designer’s success depends on the ability to get the vision right before implementing solutions, to develop the solutions with proper consensus by iterating as much as needed, and to implement and recalibrate as new input is discovered. These skills require clarity, tenacity, and persistence—disciplines I find to be rare in designers.
No Small Task
The depth and breadth and height of the task to be done should not be underestimated. This is not a part-time position! The need to bridge the chasm in this unique case of highly-technical to user-friendly is critical to the success of Celsius Network’s potential users and, in turn, Celsius Network’s own success. I think Celsius Network has something invaluable to offer to so many, if we can only help users to access it. This is the role of usability design. There are not many up to this task. I am one of them, and I am eager to help.
I see in Celsius Network—in Alex and in everyone involved whom I have seen so far—rare qualities and a work dynamic that I would be proud to be a part of. Please consider my thoughts. I would love to discuss more of what we can do to make Celsius the best it can be. I want to help bring the next 100 million people onto the blockchain with Celsius!