How To Bring The Next Billion Users To Web3


Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash

The transition from the Internet as we know it (also known as Web2) to a decentralized Internet (known as Web3) is happening faster than anticipated. But is the Web3 ecosystem ready to handle the massive user base that Web2 currently serves? Can Web3 platforms, products, and services effectively replace traditional models and achieve mainstream adoption?

Based on my experience of running blockchain startup Portto for over three years, Web3 isn’t as capable as Web2 in terms of mainstream adoption yet. This is because the Web3 ecosystem is still in its early days, and there’s a lot of room for improvement. In fact, the underlying blockchain technology that powers Web3 platforms and services is still evolving. On top of that, the learning curve required to get acquainted with the technology itself can be quite overwhelming — emerging as a significant hurdle for the larger population.

The Current Scenario

When it comes to gaining mainstream traction, there’s a simple rule that every successful startup focuses on: build products and services that are user-friendly, highly compatible, and value-adding to the consumer experience.

Every new technology entering the market usually follows a five-phase bell curve model for mainstream user adoption as well. It isn’t something that happens overnight. Currently, Web3 is at the “early adopters” phase, only the second stage of its journey.

While I can’t deny that Web3 technology is revolutionary, I also think its user experience (UX) currently lags far behind what Web2 offers. Other than early adopters (usually of the younger, tech-savvy users), the rest of users still perceive Web3 as something straight out of a sci-fi movie — complex, difficult, and hard to navigate.

As I see it, there are several barriers on the road to mainstream adoption, some of which need to be addressed as early as possible. Other than the lack of awareness and regulatory clarity, dreadful user experience (UX) is a significant obstacle to adoption. Because while Web2 platforms have many flaws, the ease with which information and services can be centralized and standardized is a huge advantage that Web3 is yet to replicate.

To begin with, Web3 platforms are scattered across individual blockchain networks, each with its own wallets, tokens, and economies. Navigating these platforms is a significant hurdle for the majority of the users. It is clunky, making it unnecessarily complicated for users. Depending on the underlying blockchain network, users are often forced to create new wallets (and remember the seed phrases) to access Web3 apps.

Then, there’s the problem of speed. Users don’t like to wait. Web2 developers realized this quickly and have been continuously optimizing their products and services to offer blazing-fast reaction time. When it comes to transaction speed, Web3 is far behind Web2, mainly because the underlying blockchain technology is still trying to figure out how to offer faster throughput rates without compromising other features like security and decentralization.

There is a serious shortage of compelling Web3 decentralized apps (dApps). Compared to the massive and ever-expanding library of applications across both Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) stores, the lack of dApps is disappointing. Those few that exist lack interoperability, cross-device compatibility, graphics and visuals, and seamless user experience.

So What Does Web3 Need?

While several things need to happen until blockchain technology evolves further, Web3 developers must focus on addressing the remaining drawbacks. The only way to drive user adoption is by improving the user experience.

For starters, Web3 developers must collaborate to develop intuitive account solutions that work across fragmented blockchain networks and the myriad of Web3 dApps built atop them. No one wants to go through the hassle of remembering strings of text just to access a product or service.

Next, Web3 developers must focus on bridging the existing infrastructure, rather than segregating it further. The lingering problem of cross-device compatibility must be solved as soon as possible. Users should be able to access Web3 dApps from whichever device or operating system they want to. In today’s world, where smartphones and IoT devices are becoming an integral part of our daily lives, it is impossible to achieve mainstream adoption if Web3 dApps are limited to specific device types and operating systems.

I think that all of it boils down to one thing: improving UX. Once Web3 developers start focusing on this, it will remove most of the barriers to mainstream adoption.

How To Bring The Next Billion Users To Web3 was originally published in Entrepreneur’s Handbook on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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