Incentive Models Are Killing Good Design – Mark Milton – Medium

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Viral vs Incentivised

The average technophile is notoriously fickle with sky-high expectations. Do you have a fast loading time? Are you easy to use? Am I wowed by the experience? Touché, you’ve passed the first test and I may use your app once or twice before deleting.

Entire disciplines have been built around capturing the attention of the user, loading the odds in favour of a viral product and avoiding the unenviable flop. The renowned “Hook Model” amalgamated the research of product managers, designers, marketers and founders into actionable insights to create user habits. These behavioural techniques, used by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, among others, evolved based on the necessity of outrunning the competition, luring in users and maintaining high adoption rates.

Crypto innovation has built it’s behavioural techniques around token economics, relying on incentive models at a protocol level to build value and grow communities. Ultimately, most current projects were created in the terminal and their users will remain there, thus the need for strong design is negated. However, if we start to see incentive models taking precedence in consumer facing products, over intuitive design and viral hooks, the expected flurry of products based on enjoyment of usage may never manifest.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating against token economic incentive models, for the first time we appear to have found the native business model of the internet — one that is not based purely on cognitive manipulation. However, relying on financial inducements, without coupling it to a great experience, is rather like bribing your friends to hang around with you — they will use you for your money, but they won’t enjoy the arrangement enough to tell other people about it!

If the future of blockchain products is primarily based on financial incentives and secondarily on great user experience, then we risk converging on a utilitarian, functional and vapid online existence. The argument that we are still pushing the boundaries of what is technologically possible with blockchain and cryptocurrencies is perfectly valid… but not a justification for overlooking usability and disregarding the pleasure users feel when interacting with the product.

“The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design.” –Adam Judge

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