March 17, 2020
Building the 1 Million DAU dApp
We’re certainly in the early days of the decentralized Web 3.0, but many parallels exist to what we went through in the 90’s during Web 1.0 and during the mobile boom of Web 2.0. What’s great about that is we have lots of models to learn from, and while the technology is different, the end goal is the same. Create amazing applications that help people; make money, save money, save time, learn, play, organize and a ton of other important (and sometimes not important) things.
With that in mind, I’ll walk you through a few thoughts on how to build that 1 Million DAU dApp.
It takes a village
Creating a killer app took time, not only because we had to figure out what people wanted, we also had to figure out a way to deliver it to them that made sense. Developers can have a great idea, but without an entire ecosystem an app (or in this case a dApp), will have an incredibly hard time coming to life. That means mature tools for building UX, functionality and network capabilities. Web 3.0 in some ways is a step ahead of Web 2.0 in that there exists a network and hardware both consumer and enterprise to build on.
That said, none of what exists is perfect and there are many hurdles since none of the existing infrastructure was purpose built to be optimized for decentralized blockchain experiences. Meaning, there’s still work to be done in many parts of the dApps ecosystem in order to take usage to the next level. Whether that’s blockchain optimized phones, servers or dev tools, the ecosystem as a whole needs to grow. It’s also very likely that a portal or dApp store of sorts will need to get established so that people have a few trusted places to go and find the dApps they seek. There’s a lot of building to do across the Web 3.0 stack, and as they say, a rising tide raises all ships.
The customer is always right
Well, not always, but in this case the point is really about listening to what consumers want. One of the most critical learnings from the early days of mobiles apps is that, if you want people to use your app, it should not only be useful, it should also be easy to use. Emphasizing usability and UX over having everything and the kitchen sink is a key point to remember. Usability testing can offer an important unbiased look at a dApp’s user experience. Find a group of users that are devoid of “creators” emotional attachment and get their feedback, on a regular basis. Don’t overcomplicate it, get people from your target audience into a room without distractions and record them using your product. You might find they us it in a totally different way than you thought, or worse, they don’t even understand how to use it! Doing this earlier in the game can help save you lots of time and money, it may even cause you to pivot or change direction. Everyone’s baby looks beautiful to them, but if you want to scale up to 1 million people, you need to make sure other people can actually use your dApp easily and intuitively.
If you build it, they will come… said no successful company ever
As much as we would love to believe that the dApp we’re building is going to be the next viral hit, reality is, to be successful you need to have the right tools for promoting your dApp. That means using many of the traditional methods, as well as undiscovered new ones. Whether through organic or paid methods, dApps will need to employ a full arsenal of tools and techniques for getting their dApps into the hands of consumers. That means everything from keyword ad buys to content marketing to influencer outreach and traditional public relations. Experimenting with new strategies for blog placements or working on a new decentralized dApp marketplace based on tokenized voting for the best dApp by actual dApp users. Everything is fair game and there are certainly many rules that can and should be rewritten.
Rising above the noise is going to be difficult, and the crypto market needs to shed its image as a place just for fringe thinkers and crypto maximalists. There’s room for a lot more people on this ship, and decentralization is an incredibly powerful tool that can and should be brought to the masses. We’ll have to help people understand that this is about the democratization of business, and we’re truly at the beginning of a revolution on a global scale. Like every great idea, it will need a catalyst and nurturing to grow.
Blockchains will allow groups to self-organize and design trustless profit sharing models and governance. This is an amazing technology that has the potential to transform business models, political environments, and governments on a global scale. But we want to start with today, and that means finding the right use cases, building the right products, and helping users find your dApp. There’s no secret sauce to creating the first (or second, or third) 1 Million DAU dApp, but it does take passion and a marriage of inspiration, planning and execution.