tldr: Onboarding users to web3 can be thought of through the metaphor of a party. Think about how you would feel if you were invited to a party but didn't know how to get there, where to park, what to bring, how to enter, etc... You would feel bad. But if you are given ample notice of how to get there, you knew what to bring, and how to enter, you would have a good time. Successful onboarding to Web3 requires this kind of personal touch.
I'd like to show you a metaphor that can be used to think about onboarding users into web3.
Let's imagine that your friend Alex from work was thoughtful enough to invite you to his house for a small get-together (a potluck).
Let's walk through your experience going to, arriving at, and being at the party.
Stick with me, the onboarding part will come soon enough.
Prior To The Party:
So our journey starts before the party even begins. We have got to prep!
Let's see what instructions Alex gives us...
Alex sends you a text with the directions to his house. He also includes a few things you need to bring:
- and some cups
He also includes some instructions on where to park and gives you a heads up that some construction is happening in the area so you know what to expect.
Alex assumes you already know where he lives. And has also assumed that you already know what food to bring.
He doesn't text you or give you any information about the party and what to expect.
You are left feeling a bit confused and overwhelmed... How do I even get there?
Luckily you text a coworker, Rachel, for some help and she gives you some instructions but it turns out Alex has given her instructions that don't apply to you.
But you manage to piece together enough so that you can actually make it to the party.
However, you feel a bit stressed.
Arriving At The Party:
Alright! Party time!!!!!!
Let's see how each scenario transpires.
You show up and easily find a parking spot because Alex gave you a heads-up before arriving.
You take out the party materials and head up to his door.
You knock. knock knock
"Ah! You've finally arrived!" says Alex as he opens the door and ushers you inside his home.
You feel relieved to have finally made it.
After piecing together where Alex might live you find yourself trying to head down a road that's been closed... Ugh. Alex's house is on the other side of the construction.
So you have to pull a U-turn, swerving into traffic, almost getting hit by an oncoming car and make your way around the construction.
You also knew that you had to bring something to the party but you weren't sure what exactly to bring. So you brought the safest option: plates & napkins.
You finally park and head up to the door and knock.
knock knock... No answer.
You peek into the window and notice the party going on inside but nobody has noticed you knocking on the door.
Now you're feeling angry.
Not only has Alex not given you any instructions he isn't even watching the door.
Taking matters into your own hands. You decide to enter through the backyard where you find Alex drinking with the other people at the party.
Experiencing The Party:
You're finally in! Let's see how your experience at the party goes!
Alex gives you a quick rundown of the party's structure and agenda.
"Okay, so washrooms are down the hall and to the left. We'll be eating dinner around 7 pm but feel free to help yourself to some snacks in the meantime. Rachel from work is also here, you can find her outside on the patio. If you need anything feel free to ask!"
You've now received key pieces of information that will help you frame how this party will work in your mind.
- how to find the washroom
- when we're eating dinner
- where my friends are at
- and that you have permission to ask Alex questions if you need to.
You find Rachel, get a drink, and finally settle into the flow of the party.
After basically breaking into the party. You find yourself lost in the crowd. You manage to track down Alex and he says "Hello!" but says no more as he continues to speak with someone else.
No greeting. No orientation. No instructions. No expectations were given.
You don't know where your friends are. You don't know if you brought the right materials for dinner. You just don't know if you're doing the right things at this party.
And worst of all, you have no idea where the washroom is.
You feel like heading straight home at this point. But you decide to wait around to see if things get better.
Now it's time for dinner...
Since Alex told you what to bring, you have no anxieties about whether or not you've brought the right items.
You also know that dinner is happening at 7 pm so you were able to walk to the kitchen at the right time.
You take out some plates and start serving yourself some food.
You're having a great time.
You are sweating bullets. You have no idea if you have brought the right things.
Turns out you didn't. Alex already has plates and napkins. Now you feel like you're freeloading – having bought something that Alex already has.
If only he told you what to bring.
You grumpily grab a plate of food but you don't feel like eating.
Your night has been ruined.
Party is over. Let's head home!
Alex walks you to the door and tells you that he is grateful that you could come and gives you a small gift bag for coming.
He walks you out to your car, gives you instructions on how best to leave his community, and bids you farewell.
You easily manage to leave the community and head home.
With your stomach full, you reflect on how nice that evening was.
You've had enough.
You walk around his house, trying to find the front door, and you barge out. Not even saying goodbye.
You don't realize that the road you took to come to his house was one-way. So while driving, you get pulled over by a cop and given a huge ticket.
Just what you needed.
You head home and decide to never, ever go to a party that Alex is hosting again.
The Web3 Link:
Onboarding people to web3 is like inviting someone to a party.
In scenario A, Alex (the host), is completely receptive to your needs. He thoughtfully gives you a heads-up on potential obstacles that you might experience on your way to the party.
He tells you what to bring, what to prepare.
When you arrive, he greets you immediately and gives you key pieces of information that allow you to orient yourself at the party.
You manage to find your friends, use the washroom, and prepare yourself for dinner.
After the party, Alex, walks you out giving you parting wishes and instructions that will get you home safely.
Web3 Onboarding Is More Like Scenario B...
Onboarding into Web3 is actually a rude awakening. Nobody is there to help you orient yourself and you need to "let yourself into the party".
You don't feel welcome. Not sure what relevant activities exist. Unclear where key pieces of infrastructure are. And overall – feel very overwhelmed.
So... What To Do?
That's the thing... If onboarding is like getting invited and going to a party then the reasonable thing is to "find & create" more welcoming hosts.
So the question here is: How do we onboard the onboarders?
This is the collective responsibility of everyone in web3. We all need to be thoughtful about how we onboard people and if we make them feel welcome.
What this means:
- Create tools for orientating users to web3 (how do I use X? what if X goes wrong?)
- Personalize the onboarding experience by showing them valuable things they can do in the space
- Create documentation or content that highlights common pitfalls and problems that people may expect.
- Make them feel comfortable enough so that they can ask you questions and not guess about things that might lose them money.
Be a good friend.
Overall; I hope you've learned something about how to think about onboarding in web3...
Try your best to apply this. And let me know if it works.