This week we’re sharing an inside view into the product development process for Chainverse written by Angela Liu, the Chainverse design lead.
The Genesis Cohort
During the month of April, DiamondDAO invited a group of 11 web3 founders, researchers, and enthusiasts to participate in a closed beta release of Chainverse’s MVP. We called this early group of users the Genesis Cohort, and they provided invaluable feedback for the direction of the product.
As a team we had a few core questions we wanted to answer with the MVP, so over the course of three weeks as the Cohort dove in, we collected feedback through user interviews, observation of app usage, and exploration of the data they were adding to Chainverse.
We loved watching the Cohort explore topics ranging from the sports DAO landscape to the DeSci community. At the end of this period, on top of a wealth of UX improvements, we had some good insights on our primary questions:
Question: Would the average retail user enter Chainverse and conduct unprompted, open ended research? Insight: Starting with the casual retail user is not the best path because we can’t make our datasets robust enough to solve for most retail use cases via one off additions from casual users. Spoiler alert, instead we attain research proposals and cultivate a talent network to contract research out to.
Question: How can we structure the data to be digestible for users of the app and users of a future API? Insight: We need a more developed approach to privacy and permissioning. We had wanted everything to be open but we will need to work with users to develop policies for controlling access to their research and implement these at the app/data layer through tools like Lit Protocol.
Question: Is a visual representation of the knowledge graph (a la Roam or Obsidian) the most effective format for answering users’ questions? Insight: We envisioned users having open ended exploration of the knowledge graph to create opportunities for discovery. However, what we heard was a desire to understand the data in a more opinionated way, where important relationships between organizations was more clear, their context to the rest of the nodes was apparent, and details could be selectively explored.
We each marinated on these takeaways, took our pages of notes and flew to Santa Fe for a collocation to dive into the information.
Santa Fe Summit Day 1, Jordan, our product lead, guided us through a multi hour strategy session around product questions, philosophies, and concerns. He framed a roadmap laid out across three phases that would allow us to create a set of progressively ambitious product hypotheses.
With each phase, we identified a focus, core user, and core stakeholder. We had some fascinating conversations around opinions vs. research, user vs. customer, data storage, and more.
Day 2, I led a modified affinity diagramming exercise to help us navigate through all the feedback we received, within the framework of the strategy laid out the previous day. We generated primary user stories for each Phase - what are the minimal required capabilities to prove the hypotheses of this Phase?
We then moved into heads down time writing down prominent pieces of feedback and our own out of the box ideas. Round robin style, we discussed each unique sticky and categorized them under a sticky - if it didn’t fit, it was descoped from a “needs to have” to a “nice to have” for their relevant phase.
We discussed in highest fidelity those items in Phase 1, and intentionally left Phases 2 and 3 light on details as we expect to learn and iterate a lot from Phase 1.
Our last activity was led by Christian, our engineering lead. This discussion revolved around protocol design for Chainverse. How do we store the data? How do we create a protocol design with tokenomics that incentivizes behavior and growth that fit within the priorities of Chainverse?
After a supercharged two days, we concluded the summit with a chef-grade (seriously, Christian was a chef in a pre-DiamondDAO life) meal. With an aligned direction and roadmap artifacts, we flew back home to execute on these plans.
Impacts on Chainverse’s Phase 1 design
All of these learnings directly impact how (and for who) we design Chainverse. Here are some of the biggest changes and the decisions that led to them:
Direction: Focus on researchers and analysts. Design impact: By focusing on a specific user for Phase 1, we can prioritize one set of user workflows to begin with. Rather than attempting to find the right optimization of two use cases (exploring and content creation), half-baking both as we’re still learning, we will prioritize efficient content creation. Tangibly, this means building explore as a feature to be leveraged while creating content, rather than a standalone workflow (for now!).
Direction: Focus on fulfilling research proposals. Design impact: We had extensive discussions on the nature of these proposals, what types of research and data would be conducted and added to Chainverse, and
Direction: All data should be entered in structured ways. Design impact: We define a Block as an isolated piece of information. Each block should follow structured templates (i.e. Investor block, Partner block) and reference relevant sources (i.e. HTML links, TX hashes, wallet addresses, etc).
We embrace rapid proofs of concepts, so we plan on continuously testing these assumptions and iterating from the feedback. If you’re interested in getting involved, join our Discord or apply for the Talent Network if you would be interested in fulfilling one of our research proposals.