This is a start-up generative NFT collectible project whose mission is to leverage NFTs to create a social impact and real world use. The goal is to build accessible tools and a proprietary genome that enables collectors, brands, and mission-driven organizations to create, collect and customize our utility avatars. As a social impact NFT initiative, the project will leverage the ERC1155 standard, allowing each layer in our NFT to be a tradable and upgradable asset that supports one of the 17 UN Sustainable Goals.
This phase of an ongoing project took place over an 8 week Capstone Thesis at MICA, the final class in my MPS in UX. The first 3-4 weeks were spent on a seperate but related project in the generative art space. I was then "recruited" to join the NFT start-up, finding the chance to work on a real NFT release too much to pass up, even though I would have to start fresh. Luckily, the generative art research and code exploration informed the new project.
ProblemSerious problems abound in the NFT space. Fees, energy usage, security, and inequality are just a few. Our approach intends to address all of them by taking a social impact and forward-thinking approach.
However, the problem I focused on for this particular phase of the project was much more achievable within the timeline.
How can we build up a following for the initial release, validate the desirability of our concept, and come to understand what features and outcomes make a desirable NFT collectible?
The solution first involved gaining qualitative insights into the NFT collector's mindset through user interviews while at the same time continuing to immerse myself into the NFT space.
The business requirements made it clear we needed some sort of landing page to build an email audience so that we could promote the NFT drop. The landing page and strategy around it became the top priority since the drop was approaching in a few months. The team already had a lot of great ideas and brand concepts, but in order to deploy a page we needed a look, feel, and brand as well.
At high level, inights gained from immersion into the space and from users helped inform the landing page UX, branding and strategy. In the background I was making sure to also gain insights that would inform the product design of the first release set of collectibles, which I was able to pull into some prototyped concepts.
I targeted enthusiastic NFT collectors for my user interviews. In hindsight, I wish I had narrowed the targeting to specifically those collecting generative avatar collectibles. However, given the tight timing, being too picky might not have been practical. In general though, our audience is made up of those in the NFT collectible space. People you would find on platforms like Open Sea, trading avatar collectibles like Bored Ape Yacht Club or CryptoPunks.
We are hoping to open up new + diverse audiences with our approach. It is hard to generalize the NFT audience since the space is so new, but early research and my own observations seems to point to the average user being a tech-y male millenial with some money to play with into crypto and gaming. We are hoping and thinking it doesn't stay this way, as NFTs will be in every household eventually.
Target Audience Screener Survey
The screener gives a great outline of the type of users we are looking for. Green items mark acceptable users, red items mark users we would reject for interviews.
Stakeholder + team meetings
In order to carve out a role and understand the goals of the project, I began the project with a few kick-off meetings and stakeholder interviews.
The target audience was defined, recruited, screened then interviewed. Research goals: Understand motivation and path to purchase + validate the general desirability of the concept.
Interview Synthesis + Analysis
Interviews were recorded + automatically transcribed. Salient answers were highlighted, then pasted into post it notes and affinity mapped into themes. From these themes, key takeways were found
Interview takeaways were synthesized into a persona. The persona will become a valuable empathy tool to aid in design and business decision-making by keeping the users goals, tasks, desires and problems at the forefront.
User Journey + Marketing Funnel Mashup
Based on user and online research, a lean general flow was determined. Digital assets and user steps that could help support the journey are placed on the right. For instance, a website could support the users research into our project, while email and other messaging support the user anticipation of the BFT drop.
Wireframe Ideation and Sketching
Users mentioned checking an NFT projects website to gauge the legitamacy of the project, inspecting roadmap, features, and the team. Reviewing similar projects confirmed that these are pretty standard components to place on a projects website, and are likely expected. The main goal of the page is to harvest email sign ups by convincing people of novelty, legitimacy, and potential while providing a series of perks and incentives. Chief among these was priority access to the NFT drop. I determined that a single page scroll-to anchors would provide a smoother experience, not having to load seperate pages to get the information needed, while keeping the crucial sign up form just a scroll away. The idea of the sign up form remaining sticky and persistent as the user scrolled was explored. Many options with modular sections were provided and discussed with the team, since we decided to get an MVP version up first and then add sections as they became available. Small views were not sketched in favor of a clearly mobile friendly stackable design that I knew, given my respoonsive design background, could work.
Branding + Look + Feel
The wireframe ideation helped define the structure, content, and strategy, but we still needed a skin. A few quick concepts were generated. Elements were dot voted on and brought into the live designs, which were being built directly in Wordpress using Divi, a drag and drop WYSIWYG builder.
Wordpress Design, "Development" + Setup
An interim landing page was placed up using our new look + feel. A countdown time module was discovered in divi and became a handy way to communicate the drop timing and build a sense of anticipation.
TEMPORARY LANDING PAGE
Switching Gears: Generative + NFT Space Exploration
I took a deep dive into p5js, a creative coding framework and platform, tinkering with their library and examples with the interest of discovering unexpected and novel generative effects. I also got really into low fee, low energy usage NFT platform Hic et Nunc. Initially this was done before the project turned to NFTs. Luckily, all the exploration was worth it anyway, as a lot of the effects I found really lent themselves to potential generative backgrounds for the NFT collectibles.
Figma Prototype of Collectible Card Concept
Due to timing, I jumped right into design and prototyping of a card concept to have one ready for a presentation. Luckily, because I had been imagining so many features and effects during my immersion, solid designs fell right out.
Reflections + Next Steps
I am thrilled with the progress of this project and excited for it's potential. While a whirlwind of work, the prospect of me and my collaborators seeing a successful NFT project in market is well worth the risk and effort. I got valuable insights and understanding of two exciting, novel spaces, generative art and NFT. I found a new design home in Figma, and maybe even an eventual professional home in the generative NFT space.
Next steps include executing a go to market strategy which will gaurantee a successful drop while actually designing the collectible product with the growing team.