What would the last guides for Web3 onboarding look like?
The state of web3 onboarding is a bit of a mess. The centralized exchanges do a good job of helping you give them your cash so they can give you any number of tokens. But after that? The current state of Web3 onboarding broadly consists of outdated Medium posts, less outdated Mirror posts, and both outdated and high-quality Twitter tweets & threads lost within the great sea of twitter dot com.
There are numerous self-custody wallets. The desktop and mobile experiences of some don't always align. Some expect you to jump through hoops so that you have a sense of the responsibility owning and operating a self-custody wallet entails. Some of them drop you right in without sharing that responsibility with you. It's a lot to take in.
Eventually you may be ready to explore DeFi, NFTs, and all the other acronyms. The trial and error you experience will be expensive both in time and money. Time as you track down and learn the best and most up-to-date documentation (some of which doesn't exist). Money as you spend crypto on fees and/or mistakes that you may otherwise not have spent given better documentation.
Recently I was part of a team which launched an NFT project on the Polygon blockchain. We knew from the start that a large number of our customers would be new to web3. And we underestimated how important onboarding would be.
We created documentation which included setting up the Metamask extension, buying MATIC using the crypto.com app, and withdrawing MATIC to a wallet address on the Polygon blockchain. The customers who followed these docs were mostly good to go. But these were the minority of customers. Many purchased MATIC on coinbase.com and were confused when it showed up in their wallets on the Ethereum blockchain. And all the talk of wallets, different chains, and different tokens was overwhelming to most.
Why isn't there a single set of clear, concise, consistent, and trusted web3 onboarding documentation to help people new to web3?
My recent experience has shown me that web3 onboarding documentation must be clear, concise, consistent and trusted. Equally important is designing it for those who are new to web3. I've come across at least one DAO which seems to be aligned with the mission of web3 onboarding. When I visit their website I immediately think, I'm on the website of a web3 product. The best web3 onboarding won't be a web3 product because people who are new to web3 are scared of web3. It likely won't be a web2 product. This will be Wikipedia for web3 onboarding. This is web1 for web3.
I've taken the first step towards exploring the edges of this idea with my post The last guide to installing Metamask in Chrome. This is a well organized and boring post about how to install Metamask for the Chrome browser. This is what good recipe web content would look like if it was 95% shorter than most recipe web content.
The content is consumable in three ways. A narrated screen recording from start to finish, screenshots of each screen you encounter on the journey, and a video of each of these screenshots stitched together. The copy of the narration, the screenshot captions, and the screenshot video text tracks is clear, concise and consistent.
The dream I have is a boring website with a sea of well organized boring links. Anyone at any point in their web3 journey can visit this page and quickly find the right place to keep moving along their journey.
One of the challenges will be keeping the content trusted. To do this the content must label whether it is up to date or that it needs to be updated. And the process to update it must be fast, repeatable, and scalable.
The first guide of installing Metamask took about eight hours to complete from start to finish. With the set of standard operating procedures I created, the next guide created of approximately equal complexity will take half that.
Eventually the screenshots and the text of the narration will live in public and open-source code. This will allow the entirety of the HTML markup/content, the video of the stiched screenshots, and the text tracks to be generated by code. Soon the only manual process necessary will be the screen recording and video editing.
This project must also be sustainable. For the time being I intend to explore the edges of what this looks like as a free source of information, but I do have some interesting ideas for how these guides can be both free & open source and also revenue generating.
It's a bold and audacious thing to say "the state of onboarding in my industry needs improving so I'm going to make the better thing." I know I won't be able to do it alone. I also know the only downside is I'll have a lot of fun helping onboard at least a few people to do the things I enjoy doing everyday.
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