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An Open Letter to MetaMask

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An Open Letter to MetaMask

Dear MetaMask team,

I think your product is terrific.

Blockchain is an incredibly complex technology, and you are doing your best to make it user-friendly.

Now you need to make it even user-friendlier.

We recently launched our BMJ Reward Token, a groundbreaking blockchain-based reward program, and we supported just one wallet at launch: MetaMask.

Our logic was simple. In the world of Web3 wallets, MetaMask was the most user-friendly, the most well-known, and the most well-used. What we didn’t anticipate was how your product would leave our users well-confused.

These are not noobs: our average investor has over $200,000 in crypto assets. Still, we spent way too much time and energy supporting our users through MetaMask installation and setup – if the goal is a Web3 wallet for the world, you’re not there yet.

As a team that is on the front lines of MetaMask support, here are a few simple things that would have a major impact – as well as fixing the root cause of many of your issues.

First, let’s start with a simple question. What is MetaMask’s strategy?

An Open Letter to MetaMask

The “Netscape Moment”

Back at the dawn of the World Wide Web, the first knock-down, drag-out fight was around the Web browser.

As it became clear that the Web was going to change the world, everyone wanted to own the software that ran it. The epic battle between Netscape and Internet Explorer is the stuff of legend, and famously landed Microsoft with an antitrust suit.

It’s abundantly clear that Web3 wallets – the gateway to blockchain – will be a similar battle. In other words, this is your “Netscape moment.”

Like the early days of the Web, your primary user base today is geeks and wonks. (This is also obvious from reading through your Community forums.) But look at the normies who review your product on, say, Trustpilot.

One word: oof.

I get that this technology is not only incredibly complex, but brand new. I also get that you are investing a ton of time and money on support, as well as fighting off fraudsters who use the MetaMask name.

Still, there is one big question about your strategy: Do you want to be the leading Web3 wallet for crypto geeks, or for all of us?

From my perspective, this is your root cause: you are going for geeks, not for the rest of us.

By default, you are spending your time chasing every obscure feature request from the crypto natives who actively engage with you – and you miss out on the enormous untapped potential of the silent masses (until they leave a scathing Trustpilot review).

I am flummoxed by some of the decisions being made at MetaMask. Why on earth are you funding grants? Why are you sponsoring art shows? Why are you not funneling 100% of your time and money into making the most user-friendly Web3 wallet in the world?

Perhaps you are not aware of the incredible competition that is coming your way. Because if you had any inkling, you would cut all the fat, put your head down, and laser-focus your way to achieving mass adoption.

This probably goes all the way to Joe Lubin, the CEO of ConsenSys, which owns MetaMask. Do you not realize this product is a shining gem of Web3? We would invest in it, if we could (and we are invested in it, since our products are intertwined).

Who is running MetaMask’s business strategy? If you don’t have a world-class executive who has scaled up consumer software at a global level, then please change up the team. Double up on UX and UI. Get rid of the art shows. Quit screwing around.

The big tech companies, the browser companies and the fintechs will all have some version of a Web3 wallet. To beat them, there are core structural changes that need to be made to MetaMask to bring it to the masses. Please start them Monday.

An Open Letter to MetaMask

Get Back to First Principles

Again, the root cause, from our outside view, is that you are developing for crypto geeks, not for the rest of us. You are letting them drive your product roadmap.

Blockchain is dominated by technically smart people who will bludgeon you with obscure use cases. “Develop this feature,” they say, “that I, and only I, will ever use.”

Developing for the rest of us, on the other hand, looks like this: you put a ton of money into focus groups. You get ordinary users in a room, or on Zoom, and you ask them how they would do very simple things. Like installing MetaMask. Buying their first ETH. Making a transaction.

You watch. You listen. You record the sessions, so others can watch and listen. You do this again, and again, and again. With hundreds of people who are not blockchain experts.

This is how you make MetaMask the Web3 wallet that we will be proud to offer to our customers. They don’t need to cross-chain bridge. They don’t need to develop on testnets. They just need to:

  • Install MetaMask
  • Display their BMJ tokens
  • Redeem their BMJ tokens

That’s it. Simplest use cases possible. Listening to our customers (and our customers are your customers), here are a few specific areas that need work to get back to these first principles.

An Open Letter to MetaMask

Get rid of the 3-second delay.

Every time you click the MetaMask browser extension (we’ve used both Firefox and Chrome), there is a three-second delay to open your wallet.

Three. Second. Delay.

Over time, this delay grows from a minor inconvenience to a rock-in-your-shoe irritation. It makes you not want to open MetaMask, because of that Three. Second. Delay.

If you happen to go to another window, the wallet closes up, and then another Three. Second. Delay.

My concern is that the Three. Second. Delay. is one of those unconscious reasons people will grow to hate MetaMask. We all have examples of these “small frustrations” that grow into very big ones (see Joel Spolsky’s famous blog about the bread factory).

Google returns searches in milliseconds. That’s the standard. I’m sure there’s a fascinating technical reason for the Three. Second. Delay. But I really don’t care. Please make MetaMask open, instantly.

Invest in human-centric UI.

One of the best things about MetaMask is that you actually show the gas fee, in USD:

An Open Letter to MetaMask

Your reviews show that some users hate this, because they think it’s your fee, but it’s absolutely the right thing to do: you’re transparent with users about the cost to make a transaction.

That’s human-centric design: it’s our money, after all.

Please bring that same user interface philosophy to the rest of the MetaMask experience. For example, after installing, MetaMask gives you this confusing dropdown. How many average humans are going to be switching networks?

An Open Letter to MetaMask

Once they’ve logged in, you’ve got six things going on up top: the MetaMask logo (which does nothing), the confusing network dropdown, the Account list, a cryptic message “Not connected,” a scary-looking wallet address, then a hamburger menu for “Account Options.”

This is the main screen of your product!

An Open Letter to MetaMask

It’s a mess.

I’ve been using MetaMask for several years and I still can’t remember where to find Settings. (Click the round pie chart that looks like an icon, of course.)

Good UI is about ruthlessly streamlining and eliminating. It’s about what you hide, not what you show. I know you’ve already hidden a lot. Hide even more. The geeks will not like this, but the rest of us will.

Strip it down! Simplify! Make crypto invisible!

I could go screen-by-screen on this point, but you get the gist. Please design for humans.

Align MetaMask experience across all browsers and mobile.

As we’ve fielded questions from users, we’ve written step-by-step instructions on using MetaMask – even created a tutorial video. The problem, we discovered, is that MetaMask is not supported on every browser. (No Safari? Come on.)

Then there’s Brave, which has its own wallet that you have to disable first. If you want crypto credibility, you’ve gotta work it out with Brave.

And the mobile version of MetaMask is completely different still. This is a huge whiff. We’ve just started pushing users to desktop, even though lots of users prefer mobile.

Please align the core experiences across platforms, i.e., installing MetaMask, displaying tokens, and redeeming tokens.

Add custom tokens in one click.

Remember your customer is just not the end user, it’s also the developers and builders (like us) who are integrating MetaMask into their products.

We wanted a “surprise and delight” experience where our Premium members would just find tokens in their MetaMask wallet each month, but guess what?

For our users to actually see their BMJ tokens, which they own, it’s a convoluted process involving typing in the complete smart contract address. It would be far simpler if we could just send them a link: “Click here to view your BMJ tokens.”

Please enable one-click adding of new tokens, so it’s not like configuring a router.

An Open Letter to MetaMask

In Summary

Criticizing is easy; building is hard.

But we wanted to make our case in the strongest way possible, because – although we have no formal partnership – we are partners, of a sort. We are relying on MetaMask as the gateway to our product, the BMJ Reward Token.

To our users, then, MetaMask and the BMJ token are the same “experience.”

If MetaMask is hard to use, our entire product is hard to use. The more you improve MetaMask for everyday users, the easier it is to surprise and delight our Premium members.

(Conversely, if a competing wallet comes out tomorrow that’s 10x easier to use, we’ll drop MetaMask in a heartbeat.)

We are aligned in our mission: to make blockchain and crypto accessible to everyone. You have the beginnings of a great product. Don’t be distracted by the power users who are driving your product strategy and keeping your developers chasing rabbits down holes. Build for the rest of us.

That, MetaMask team, is how you can ultimately outfox your competition.

Source: ethereum.today

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