NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital assets that represent real-world objects like art, music, in-game items, and videos. They are one of a kind and can be bought and sold online using cryptocurrency. Robinhood NFT Marketplace aims to be a peer-to-peer NFT marketplace that makes discovering, selling, buying, and learning about NFTs effortless and enjoyable through beginner-friendly designs.
Robinhood NFT Marketplace aims to bring down barriers for non-technical users to interact with blockchain technologies and explore new forms of investments with user-friendly and familiar interfaces. Our product vision aligns with Robinhood’s overarching mission statement to democratize finance for all and facilitate creator economies' expansion.
Non-fungible tokens play a crucial role in helping people achieve increased economic freedom by enabling creators and artists to explore novel ways of establishing creativity and ownership. Although they have been around for years, NFTs exploded in popularity in 2021, and their global market valuation reached a whopping $52 billion (according to crypto.com).
Even though NFTs investments are currently all the craze, the option to manage them with the same precision and as part of mobile apps that people already use to keep track of other investment instruments is still largely unavailable. Additionally, there are limited platforms that cater to non-crypto-savvy users who are less familiar with crypto jargon and processes.
Since Robinhood announced, it would be launching its crypto wallet in January 2021, introducing its own NFT marketplace would allow the company to enable users to manage all their investment assets in one place without having to leave the app to use third-party platforms like OpenSea. Robinhood's mobile brokerage expertise transfers well to creating a product that simplifies and democratizes NFT's.
Blockchain's user experience issues need to be addressed. As is often with technology, jargon creates friction for the user experience and can lead to wasted funds and time, leaving new investors confused and frustrated. Experiencing high commission fees and slow transaction speed discourages investors from trading or using the platform often. Address names are unnecessarily complex and usually not customized by their holder.
Blockchain’s famed transparency is hardly usable for people unfamiliar with technology. Overall, the current state of blockchain causes it to be used by a small group of users, who are forced to deal with relatively high entry barriers and numerous questions and problems than meeting user needs. Keeping these pain points in mind, we came up with four key design goals to follow during this redesign process: Discoverability, Awareness, Education, and Security.
We performed sentiment analysis to extract and identify emotions, attitudes, and opinions from our sample sets on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube.
Our findings reflected that users, on the whole, expect Robinhood to have an NFT offering primarily because of Coinbase’s recent NFT marketplace announcement. Further, Robinhood is seen as a default brokerage for young, new investors, and the NFT market shares the same demographic appeal.
Several users have identified and codified the critical features of popular NFT players. It appears that at this point: there is a playbook for creating an active NFT marketplace. But, factors that differentiate marketplaces are simple, pleasing user interface/experience, and network effects with diverse artist offerings.
We found several NFT money-making tutorials with hundreds of thousands to millions of views. Other popular video essays explain the NFT phenomena, the underlying technology, and the possible future.
Because of widely-covered industry fraud and scheming, the finance sector is seen as unfriendly and exclusionary. On the other hand, Robinhood’s products are widely known for being straightforward, usable, and friendly. Their memorable illustrations and bright color palette reflect a new, refreshing face for retail investing.
Robinhood set an industry standard for commission-less trading paired with their simple, accessible mobile brokerage. Compared to other brokerage’s Robinhood prioritized the needs of retail traders instead of institutional traders. As a result, the average citizen has far fewer investment barriers and gets a high-quality investing education.
There is a stark contrast between the user experience of legacy brokerages and Robinhood’s offerings. Because of Robinhood’s platform, new retail traders are no longer intimidated by complex charts, random numbers, and financial jargon that complicate the trading process. Instead, traders are given only the most vital information. Robinhood also offers in-depth courses through its education section.
A significant contributor to Robinhood’s virality has been the sharability of Robinhood’s simple, understandable interface. Robinhood’s interfaces have made it easy to share your investment journey with others on the internet. Traders on Reddit would famously share their Robinhood portfolio to share the explicit story of their historical P/L.
“So here's what I love about NFTs. Today, the number of 18- to 29-year-olds who are actively investing, right, who have any investment, is less than 30%. So investing has a whole lot of barriers to entry, whether it's economic, educational, emotional. NFTs bring that barrier down a little bit more, right? We've all hung something on the wall. We've all put something on a refrigerator.”
“...the jump from, hey, art, music, things that are real and let's make that digital is a lot easier than investing, which the majority of young individuals today aren't doing and saying, OK now, there's a digital component to this, right? The jump is just a little bit easier.”
“...we'd be silly to not be looking at right now.”
— Christine Brown, as told to Yahoo! Finance
NFTs made headlines in 2021 due to the increasing number of sales, particularly the sales of Beeple's "Everyday: the First 5000 Days", which became the world's most expensive NFT. Since then, NFT sales volume skyrocketed, with the market cap reaching a total of over 11.5 billion U.S. dollars as of the latest data, according to NFTGO.com.
OpenSea is the leader in NFT sales. It is the world’s most prominent marketplace for Crypto collectibles. It also supports artists and creators and has an easy-to-use process if you want to mint your own NFT. The marketplace supports more than 150 different payment tokens. OpenSea says it is now worth $13.3bn following a new investment of $300mm.
OpenSea has all sorts of digital assets available on its platform, and it's free to sign up and browse the extensive offerings. They also sport a fully customizable landing page/marketplace. Users also only pay minting and listing fees once and can mint the rest for free.
Coinbase plans to open its own NFT marketplace, where people will be able to trade digital art and other items in the next quarter or two. The company wants to offer a one-stop experience for users to make purchases and store their holdings on a platform. Their platform would provide a social media experience more similar to Instagram than a traditional marketplace like eBay Inc. Coinbase has received more than 2.5 million emails seeking to sign up for the marketplace since it was first announced in October.
The biggest existing NFT marketplace, OpenSea, had about 236,000 unique user addresses interacting with it in the last 30 days, according to data tracker DappRadar. Coinbase is an investor in OpenSea.
Users will showcase their NFTs on the Coinbase site and let others follow their profile and receive updates. Such features could be vital to getting the word out and attracting users when many social networks are also jumping into the NFT market.
We conducted five individual interviews with users aged 21-25, ranging from avid to new NFT investors. We recruited people to interview based on varying backgrounds and expertise levels. While our focus remained on learning more about their needs, goals, and pain points about the NFT investing process, their diverse perspectives contributed to different types of insights.
Understand how users currently interact with and invest in NFTs to derive insights on how Robinhood could build a platform that better supports the needs of various stakeholders in the system.
Our personas were inspired by our anonymous interviewees, their key insights, and personal stories. We share their background, motivations, pain points, NFT and investing background, and goals.
Annie recently graduated from college and now works as a designer. She’s passionate about her career and wants to progress. But, she is often bored at work and struggles to save money. In 2020, she heard more about cryptocurrency and began researching NFT’s as an alternative investment. She currently holds bitcoin and ethereum on Robinhood Crypto platform and also uses the Robinhood app for stocks.
Amay has been an artist his entire life and avidly follows new technology. In 2015, he became fascinated by blockchain and cryptocurrency. He first bought Bitcoin and Ethereum and then branched out to many other tokens. He became interested because of ideological beliefs but has since made a lot of money through his NFT collections. He is optimistic about the future of NFT’s and would like to share his art with as many people as possible.
Abbey works at a management consulting firm and likes investing in NFTs as a self-proclaimed ‘side hustle.’ She has been involved in the NFT space since 2019 and is surprised by the industry’s recent explosion in popularity. In 2021, a scammer sold her a fake version of a popular NFT which made her lose a significant amount of money. However, she wants to work on regaining her confidence and continue investing.
We used affinity diagramming to derive critical insights from our interviews and literature review. We found themes in four primary areas: Customization, Trust & Security, Simplicity, and Education.
These themes inspired primary features for the new NFT marketplace and served as selling points for the NFT marketplace.
Empower investors to make informed decisions by providing them with vetted information and news
Utilize Robinhood Learn to help people process technically challenging topics more easily
Balance jargon and abstract away details, so new users are motivated to learn but aren’t overwhelmed
Allow users to customize the content they want to see on their home page and explore feed
Facilitate the discovery of emerging creators by creating categories for new artists on the platform
Provide a search bar, content categories, filters, and hashtags that improve searchability
Schemas vary based on experience and perspective. Users can express themselves by creating and sharing moodboards with the community.
Similar to how Spotify recommends songs to your playlist based on past listens, the marketplace shows you what you’d love based on your moodboards.
Community is a key pillar of the NFT ecosystem. Being a part of it, you see the world differently from others, and your moodboards would reflect that.
Include multi-factor authentication before in-app transactions like placing bids on items
Visual elements like profile checkmarks and report buttons generate more trust from users
Keep traders in the know about their information’s visibility and usage
There’s only so much time in a day. With glanceable cards, you can gather only the most necessary information.
NFTs can reveal the artist and appreciators in all of us. Cards let the art speak for itself, with as few distractions as possible.
We display only two cards per row to give each item the focus it deserves, avoid cognitive overload, and yet show multiple listings as you scroll
This project is special because this product could potentially help people feel less intimidated and more confident about entering the world of crypto. Bringing down barriers to entry and increasing access are things I personally care a lot about, given my upbringing and the lack of resources I experienced. There were days where we felt overwhelmed, but I’m proud of everything we managed to do.
We only designed the user-facing side, but I would’ve loved to explore what the platform might’ve looked like for creators. With more time, it would be worthwhile designing flows to create, mint, manage auctions, track sales, etc. I would’ve also explored more ways to gamify crypto education and gone through a few cycles of user testing and redesigns based on the findings.
My respect for Dimitri’s design skills only continues to grow after every collaborative project. He is exceptionally determined and worked on this despite having COVID. Watching him get physically repulsed by bad visuals is amusing but is proof of how deeply he cares about design. It is inspiring to watch him design, even when parts of his process include scrolling through Twitter and spinning in his swivel chair.
I hadn’t designed on Figma in some time as I’d been more involved with game engines at my previous internship. This project made me more confident in my visual and UX skills because I am able to clearly recognize, perhaps for the first time, how far I’ve come from where I’ve started. Working on this case study also taught me to not be afraid to think big, and to continue combining different things I care about — which was my love for creator economies, art, crypto, and design, in this case.