Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are now in the spotlights. Just before Christmas 2017, the currency was traded at 16.5k euros per Bitcoin, but three years ago, when we started our projects with Conio, one Bitcoin was sold at 800 euros. At the time only a few people knew something about this currency and even less were owners or traders.
Conio was then a young startup, bursting with knowledge on cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with a challenging mission: spread the opportunity represented by Bitcoins and, ça va sans dire, persuade people to invest.
Even now, people don’t completely understand what Bitcoins are. They merely want to buy and use them, speculate on them, follow the trading trends and hopefully become wealthy as if the money was creating out of thin air.
Our task was not simple: we have been asked to find an easy way to represent the idea of Bitcoin and, at the same time, design a user-friendly mobile app that served as Bitcoin wallet to buy, sell and use the cryptocurrency.
Giving body to an idea
One of the main problems we have faced is that Bitcoins are immaterial: there are no coins or notes that represent them.
Money is a symbol: it has value because people accept it as a symbolic medium of exchange, and having something physical helps us give substance to an idea.
We have thus decided to use the metaphor of the coin to let people understand that even bitcoins are actual and valuable money. The interface shows rolling coins, and their quantity indicates the number of bitcoins owned.
To further enhance the idea of physicality, when the coins roll they produce a jingling sound as if they were real.
The cryptocurrencies are perceived as complicated, nerdy, and people are often distrustful about them. There is no official regulation, the network is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without any intermediary.
Hence, our design had to arise trust, lower the feeling of uneasiness and, on the contrary, make simple, cool and fun to use the wallet.
We opted then for round shapes and bright colours to convey those messages.
Trading made easy
Most of the users couldn’t care less about blockchain and mining. They want to trade and take advantage of their Bitcoin capital.
When we designed the app, we preferred a minimal interface and simple interactions to reduce the cognitive burden and let the users focus on a few essential information.
We created an experience that could be understandable by everyone, not only by tech-savvy people with the knack for finance.
We also represented the use of the wallet with a scenario.
A user scenario is the fictitious story of a user’s accomplishing an action or goal via a product.
The wallet is solely an app because, in the idea of Conio, using Bitcoin should become normal in everyday life. So the wallet has to be reachable at every moment, and this means ‘mobile’.
We ended the project two years ago. Conio has developed the outcomes ever since, and the app has evolved in the meantime: changing the interface and adding functions.
But you know: design is a verb, and things have to change to remain relevant.