Cover photo

OpenUX in 2024

Reflections on 2023 and plans to double-down on OpenUX as a social space in 2024

GM friends. A very belated Happy New Year to everyone in OpenUX!

Since the start of the new year, Manansh, Georgia, and Henry have been reflecting on all this community accomplished in 2023. Looking back, there are many successes to be proud of:

  • We met many new peers online and IRL

  • We collaborated on many impactful client- and public-facing projects

  • We paid over $150k to 7 individuals in the org for their work on client projects

  • We published several articles sharing research openly and educating the market on the value and methods of user research

  • We collaborated on multiple grant applications, including a widely successful Gitcoin funding campaign

  • We prototyped an ambitious research repository project

  • and more

While we’re super excited by 2023’s accomplishments, unfortunately, the revenue we’ve generated hasn’t been enough to pay anyone a regular stipend for pushing the organization forward. We’ve spoken to a few other web3 agencies, and heard that many are in the same boat—the bear market has hit agencies hard. The demand for outside consultants is lower than last year, particularly for user research—the consensus we’ve heard is that OpenUX has done really well, all things considered!

What do we do about this, given the market for research is down? The clear answer is not to shut down, but to be patient! Rather than working full-time on business development, client projects, and internal projects for OpenUX, the three of us are going to be pursuing some independent work outside of the OpenUX Agency to make sure we have the best chance to contribute to OpenUX in the long run. A few members who've worked on OpenUX client projects have decided to do the same.

Is this an end to OpenUX? Absolutely not. If anything, it’s an opportunity for us to double-down on the social side of OpenUX—something that unfortunately lagged behind as we put more and more effort into growing the agency in the second half of 2023. While our day-to-day projects may be less focused on building together, we still want to foster a space for intellectually rigorous discussion on crypto UX, product design, open source research, and more. If anything, this change is an opportunity for OpenUX to become more decentralized—for members to put any ideas into action without being worried about taking resources or energy away from an in-house agency.

How might this manifest in what you see across OpenUX?

  • Creating more consistent but spaced-out group social activities for OpenUX members. We’re going to start with an hour long video call once a month for members to check-in with each other, discuss recent interesting projects, share wisdom on crypto UX, and more. This meeting will not initially be focused on grant applications, client pitches, etc. We’d love to hear your ideas for these calls, if you have them—book clubs have been mentioned as a potential fun direction

  • Pursuing less proactive business development and grant writing for the agency. OpenUX as an agency will continue to exist, but will likely be scaled back to a few projects a year executed by some of the most experienced researchers in our network. The reality is that the demand for paid research contracts is not enough to meaningfully encourage a large group of members to participate in pitching or grant writing. That said, our network does come to us a few times a year for projects. If you're still interested in working for the agency, and we're not in touch, please reach out!

  • Spending a portion of the funds in our treasury. We’d like to pay back the $16,000 in debt Manansh, Georgia, and Henry incurred to originally bootstrap OpenUX, and gift a few rewards to contributors who directly helped the agency earn funds last year via unpaid labor. We’ll be reserving funds in our treasury to cover month-to-month costs, keep an emergency fund for special projects, and also reserve a pool of money to fund anyone who brings forward a meaningful proposal to pick up the research repository product work we planned during our Gitcoin campaign. If you’re interested in that, please speak up!

  • Launching a new website and brand identity (the cover photo to this newsletter is a sneak peak 👀). At the start of this year, we approached a brand design firm to help us launch a new identity for OpenUX. This is coming very soon! Be on the lookout for a fresh logo, identity, and website later in March

There’s no telling where we might be as a group later in 2024—perhaps the market will pick back up and operating our agency more openly will be more feasible. Or perhaps this will take longer and we’ll continue to exist as a network of some of the brightest, most passionate research practitioners in the space advocating for better crypto UX. Either way, we’re excited to stick around to find out, and we hope you’ll join us. To all our leads, collaborators, and members, you folks rock. We have enjoyed every minute of working with you, and we can’t wait for more exciting opportunities in the future.

Some actions you can take now:

We love you all. A lot. Thanks for being here. <3

-Henry, Manansh, and Georgia

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