This post is part of a series sharing random thoughts and updates throughout the process of building Folio, an app for using decentralized applications. Folio is a TryCrypto project.

Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.

Greg McKeownEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

I’ve been thinking lately about this concept of asking: what is absolutely essential? McKeown suggests that articulating and focusing only on the absolute essentials allows you to eliminate the non-essentials and focus on building the things that matter most. As we develop the requirements for Folio, we decided to create a list of essentials — the guiding principles we feel are vital.

As a team, we created a list of principles and concepts to revert back to when we are struggling with a problem, weighing out options, or just want some perspective about the overall goal of the project.

Our initial list:

1. Empathy for people
2. User experience first
3. Adherence to user norms
4. Design for decentralization
5. Facilitate peer support
6. Maximize accessibility
7. Open and agnostic
8. No dark patterns
9. Respect user privacy as a right
10. When in doubt, favor the user

After going through each principle and writing justifications for each about why we believe it is important, I started to feel like I was creating a list of processes/features — not essentials. All ten points in this list are important and we plan to implement each of these, but the goal of this exercise was to articulate, as a team, principles we feel are absolutely essential.

Going back the the drawing board, I boiled down our list to two priorities (in order).

Our final list:

1. User Experience
2. Decentralization and Transparency

That’s it. Everything else is supplemental. These two points are in order. Here’s why:

Decentralization is important and while we don’t plan on sacrificing user experience for decentralization, we don’t see a world in which dapps can be adopted without a strong user experience. No matter how much effort developers put into building sophisticated systems for decentralization, those systems are only as strong as the user base behind them. The point here is not “give up decentralization for a good user experience”, the point is “create a fantastic user experience so that decentralized applications are actually adopted and widely used”.

Decentralization and Transparency will always be core components of any TryCrypto project, Folio is no exception. In the development of PhotoBlock, an OAuth2-style component that can be used in any blockchain or Web2.0 context, Nik went through hell and back with every small detail, scrutinizing each point of centralization, rethinking it, and finding a way to make it completely decentralized. This attention to detail and unwavering pursuit of decentralization will continue with Folio and we plan on documenting as much of this as we can, which embodies the second element of this point: transparency. In a broader sense, transparency as a principle for Folio means honesty and openness with users, developers, and the overall community.

Regardless of what comes out of Folio (or even PhotoBlock), our goal is to spark conversation in the blockchain space around accessibility and empathy for users. After all, decentralized technology accomplishes nothing if no one can figure out how to use it.

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