The Human Centered Design Process of Ryder
A hash algorithm, consensus mechanism, Proof-of-? Etc… this is just a small sample of the first few minutes of my very intentional clash with the Crypto industry. This was about six months ago when I joined Ryder, a company with the mission of “bringing crypto to every individual” by creating a hardware wallet that should be as intuitive for a first-time user as for the dedicated crypto punk.
As product lead for Ryder, I was in charge of making just this, a design that was not stuck in what crypto is coming from, instead of finding a way forward that brings attraction and might even spark the interest of those not looking.
When starting the design process, it’s good to see what has already been made, good or bad, and specify the pain points that might also occur for Ryder. ‘Tech’ hardware is more often than not seen as cold and impersonal to the typical consumer. The ones who stand out often have that sense of focusing on what we need to achieve and sensing what draws attraction to the process. As the great designer Dieter Rams once said:
‘Good design makes a product understandable.’
The current hardware wallet options, such as Ledger or Trezor, have been significant in creating the market today. They have defined what secure storage is and made it readily available to the early adopters of crypto. However, having the benefit of coming in at a later and more mature stage of the crypto industry, we saw a need to make a product and design that moves away from the trading and cold-storage narrative and focuses on a more modern crypto user. A user that might not be as focused on the core of the technology, but instead on its usability, how it weaves into their everyday life, and how they can connect their on-chain identity with their real-life identity.
With the realization, we wanted to change the perception of a hardware wallet from being an out-of-site device to an opportunity to extend the user’s identity. There was immediate pushback when engaging our Maker community for feedback. Voices raised the risk of combining a device which purpose is to secure sensitive and valuable information with a design that seeks attention. The conviction that anonymity provides security was obviously strong, and at this stage, we were contemplating the feasibility of an attractive device that strives for recognition. After some long consideration, I’m proud that we sought guidance in our mission “To bring crypto to every individual,” by redefining the challenge and finding a new target. We now look at our mission and do not only see our challenge to that of attraction but also finding a new and improved model for Identity and Key security. We strongly believe that easy key-backup and theft prevention are as crucial for the adoption as strong design.
Having gained confidence in the freedom to design with identity and statement in mind, I started to look at other fields of technology. I wanted to seek inspiration where technology took a human-centric perspective that seeks inclusiveness in users’ lives rather than the opposite. Wearables, in particular, run the risk of not being inclusive, as they are designed to be on the person for a longer period of time. So unless it has been specifically designed with all the eventualities of the consumers that would wear it- it won’t be a well-designed wearable.
The shape of a watch started to grow on me; watches have been strongly connected to the owners’ identity for the longest time. Equally, technology-wise, today, more looked at as a commodity, watches were once seen as technical pioneers, packaging complexity into the core and providing an easy-to-understand exterior that anyone can use.
Having the benefit of a strong and engaged community at Ryder, we once more asked for their opinion on the form factor. This time the feedback was more mixed; while some expressed joy for the practicality and expressiveness of the watch form, others said consideration of it being too narrow and not accommodating for use differently.
Taking the feedback to heart, we wanted to ensure that the form factor was as inclusive as possible. We want to be humbled that building for an open technology such as crypto, use-cases are both individual and changing as technology develops. Therefore the design must accommodate for different use as well as being opened for the diversity of users we believe crypto will bring.
I’m extremely happy with the final design we at Ryder can share today. It’s been a collaborative effort together with our Maker community, and the working name of it is the Ryder V4.
We have decided to call it a Modular Wearable Hardware Wallet; the intention of the design is to be permissionless in a similar way as that of crypto. We want the innovation that an open system facilitates to reflect in the Ryder and open up for a design that lets the user select how and in what way to wear it. Our ambition is to provide accessories for multiple forms of use, however we also hope that our open-source approach will engage others, such as you, to extend its usability through new and creative ways; integrating an easy-to-use hardware wallet into your daily life.