Blockchain Explained by a Designer*

*I am not a blockchain expert in the slightest. This article is not intended to be educational nor is it 100% accurate.

As a UX designer in the Blockchain space, I find myself asking developers, consultants and blockchain experts — even after months — on what the heck is Blockchain?

I’ve noticed how it’s explained differently but words like decentralise, distributed, peer-to-peer, mining, hashing and consensus come up every time and still I could not even grasp the basics, nor the tech jargon that goes with it. On top of that I keep hearing the same analogy over and over again. Tell me you’ve never heard of a person who starts explaining with “Okay so you know what Bitcoin is right?” or “Think of blockchain as a digital spreadsheet.” My point is, it took me a long time and many different versions from various sources to finally get a grasp on the concept.

In this article, I will attempt to explain Blockchain in my own way. This is aimed towards my fellow designers who are just as confused as I was, and hopefully it will shed some light on understanding how blockchain works from a more familiar ground.

First take a look at this infographic,

Pretty good I might add, with bite size explanations and wonderful visuals. And yet, I couldn’t understand one bit when I first saw this a year ago. So let’s move on.

As designers, we all know Photoshop. And we all worked with clients before. Imagine this: a client requested for a design (In blockchain world it means: a transaction is requested).

‘?’ represents the backend process for a successful transaction to happen.

You know the drill, we go into photoshop and start designing. Let’s pretend each new layer is a representation of a data — we can have a brush stroke (cryptocurrency), a color fill (a smart contract) or an icon (any piece of information really!) that is going to be sent to the client.

For this purpose, let’s make it so the client only wants a blob of color (one transaction of data) and we are going to send that blob of color on a single layer.

Let’s add that blob on layer 3.

Now let’s imagine that each layer is represented by random numbers and letters called transaction address. A list of layers is a digital ledger of transactions. Makes sense, right?

On your right is that infamous digital ledger you’ve heard of hundreds of times.

You hit ctrl-s/cmd-s. Next steps are automated so you can now sit back and relax. You are about done. But, wait! The hovering art directors enter the room to make sure you got the right color. Each of them has their own copy. This is where the ‘consensus’ part comes in (transaction is verified by multiple nodes).

“Yes, the elephant is definitely not blue.”

The only major difference is that the art directors are not allowed to modify your layer— a designer’s dream! Their job is only to verify that all the copies are exact to say “Yes, you may send this to the client!”.

That layer you worked on is now saved as a psd file(a block) along with the other layers in there.

The block in the word blockchain.

Keep in mind that you cannot change your layer once it has been saved and verified, instead you have to create a new layer and add it into the psd file until it reaches its size limit. Once it does reach its limit, a new psd file would be created to house more layers.

The psd file with your layer in it is then added into a folder along with other psd files of previously made layers made by you or other designers (blockchain records every transaction ever made).

The chain of blocks.

The client receives your work! Remember that one layer you wanted to send to the client? It has been automatically dropped into a file sharing platform where you and nobody else can modify, move or delete the contents.

Think of an online file sharing platform (Dropbox? Google Drive?) That’s the blockchain network.

You also have access to a long history of all your layers and ones created by other designers like yourself. The layers are saved and locked, can be viewed and tracked by everyone including you, the client and the art directors. That’s how powerful blockchain is when it comes to security and transparency. And we have yet to scratch the surface of the potential of what it can do and how we are utilising it.

So as you may have realised, blockchain is really not that hard to understand if we break it down to something we are familiar with. Unless you are confused now more than ever. If you already know blockchain and feel that there is something not right here, please let me know!


Original Source at Medium.


About the Author:

Trish Kelly is the Head of UX Product Design at Blocklime – one of the most talented and sought-after blockchain developer teams in Malaysia. She is an active contributor to the Malaysian blockchain space, using her experiences in the crypto & blockchain space to bridge the gap between tech and non-tech fields such as design. Connect with Trish on LinkedIn here.


Trish Kelly running a coding workshop at Malaysian Bar CPD, 20th June 2018


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