Happy new year everyone and welcome to the second installment of our monthly “dev talk” update. Many people around the world love to herald the new year with a resolution for change or improvement - “New year, new me!” as the saying goes. Perhaps that’s eating a little healthier, spending more time with family, or taking up a hobby. The new year is a time for reflection on the past with a view to improving the future.
Here at LocalCoinSwap we’ve thought deeply about the lessons learned over the previous year and the changes which will need to be made going forward to ensure the success of the project. We’ve engaged with and read through all the community suggestions, both via email and in social media, we’ve analyzed the market, and we’ve collected data from users on the MVP platform we currently have in place. 2018 has been a fantastic learning experience to help guide us successfully through 2019.
Part of learning lessons involves a willingness to change tack when needed, and react to changes in market conditions - and LocalCoinSwap would be remiss if we did not actively change course when community action dictated it. Looking over the past year there are three key lessons learned from the data we’ve gathered which will shape our business direction going forward:
Lesson 1: Despite implementing a plethora of trading currencies, 99.9% of trading action is for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and LCS Cryptoshares
LocalCoinSwap already supports a wider variety of cryptocurrencies than any other P2P platform. However, it is clear that the majority of trading action supports a much smaller amount of key cryptocurrencies.
While we will continue to slowly expand the selection of cryptocurrencies offered, we now feel that it is most important to focus on improving the support of the most popular cryptocurrencies which are being traded.
During 2019 we will focus heavily on user experience and smart contract integration for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ethereum-based tokens. We will also examine the potential for user experience improvement in the other cryptocurrencies we already support. There are many exciting developments ahead in the Bitcoin protocol with Lightning Network, and the Ethereum network with Constantinople. In both Blockchains, there are already several ways we can implement smart contracts into the user experience. The LocalCoinSwap team has already begun researching and planning our implementation of non-custodial trading with both Bitcoin and Ethereum, various ways in which smart contracts may enhance the user experience, end-to-end encryption, atomic swaps, and the potential of DAI. We will also be looking at how various plugins like Metamask, Ledger, Trezor and other wallet software/hardware can be integrated into the platform.
In our Whitepaper (page 17), you may have noticed the following paragraph:
“The LocalCoinSwap escrow system acts as an intermediary between buyers and sellers to create a trustless solution to the inherent trust issue which hampers P2P transactions. LocalCoinSwap will implement a multi-signature transaction option for users in currencies where this is possible. This will allow users to exchange with zero platform risk.”
Although we’ve had to initially prioritize other aspects of the site, this is a paragraph we haven’t forgotten!
Lesson 2: A more beginner-friendly UX/UI is of greater importance to our community than only new trading features
When we first began creating product documentation, in advance of development, we created a list of all the features we might want to implement on LocalCoinSwap. These features ideas were based primarily on our experience with other trading platforms, and our vision of what the ideal exchange would offer to users.
As development began, and after the soft launch, we listened to the community input and steadily added to this feature wishlist. At present, our list now contains many hundreds of features, spanning everything from social media style newsfeeds and gamification, to decentralized atomic swap side-platforms and Tor integration. Our list of features is already enough to take up 10 years of active development time with a large team of programmers working full time.
However, first and foremost the community wants better UX and UI, rather than just an endless list of features. They want simple interfaces which reduce confusion, hand-holding through the complexities of their first trade and designs which are visually pleasing to the eye. The user experience IS the product, and in 2019 LocalCoinSwap will focus primarily on this element of our platform. We will drive user growth on LocalCoinSwap by offering the nicest looking, and most user-friendly trading experience available.
Lesson 3: Mobile-first optimization is more important than having a desktop site and separate mobile app
The original vision of LocalCoinSwap was of a desktop trading interface and separate mobile application. We imagined implementing a separate UI across the desktop and mobile applications. It is now clear that this idea was not the best approach.
Data analysis of LocalCoinSwap traffic shows resolutely that the majority of users are trading and accessing the website with their mobile phones. This is especially true in countries which we plan to focus and market heavily towards in 2019, such as Venezuela, Brazil, and many of the countries across Africa.
In line with our new understanding of our user base, LocalCoinSwap will focus future development towards a mobile-first nature, with the aim of making the website itself equally suited to use on mobile, desktop, and tablets. We will ensure that all features are compatible between different screen sizes, and avoid interfaces which require the use of a mouse for proper operation.
In layman's terms, this means we will first develop the website to work perfectly on a mobile phone, and only then add additional features/content to pages to suit larger screens. It doesn’t matter what device you access the site with, you’ll have a fully featured and rich trading experience.
Now, onto our latest features…
You may have noticed a slow-down in UX/UI changes to the site. No, that isn’t because we’ve gotten lazy, it’s because hard launch is coming so instead of publishing incremental changes to the website, we will be pushing all of our latest changes live at the same time as hard launch, at the end of February. We’ll also be spicing up the mix with some brand new cryptocurrencies in the weeks immediately after hard launch too. :)
Of course, we have still released a few new website features in advance of hard launch where we felt it best served the interests of our users. You may have noticed SMS notifications, massive improvements in the process of editing trades, a blog redesign, integration of trading accounts into our ZenDesk support portal… oh... and complete translation and localization of the site into two new languages with many more features to come!
February will be a big month for LocalCoinSwap with all the most anticipated features being launched, including the volume/metrics page, and our first live run-through of the dividend deployment. We’ll also have a cool new UI, lots of UX improvements, and mobile optimization. Also, it's important not to forget that that feature enhancements and redesigns won't just simply end with hard launch as we will continue to make more improvements as we move further into 2019. Hard launch will just be the beginning.
It’s been a long journey, and now we’re almost at the finish line. Stay tuned for more to come as we get closer and closer to hard launch...
CTO & CO-Founder, LocalCoinSwap