Our mission at Source is to bring you instant internet access anywhere in the world. We automatically connect you to Source providers, allowing you to connect to the internet automatically without the hassle of passwords. Once Source providers acquire our router, they can make money in two ways: 1) providing internet access to Source guests, and 2) running a full Ethereum node, allowing developers to use the router’s computational space.

My Role

Lead design of both product and marketing material, including the user interfaces on both web and Android, as well as design of website.

The Challenge

Hide the technical complexity of an ethereum blockchain app by creating a friendly, streamlined experience for the user.

Our Core Values at Source

  1. Source is meant to let people anywhere to connect to the internet regardless of background, geography, or device.

  2. Source wants to truly empower the people that join the network. For people around the world, connecting to the internet can be a headache. We want developers to create hardware on the Source Network, business owners to increase their revenues, and for consumers to become more independent of their network providers. This means creating a true community.

  3. Make connecting to the internet just work. On the experience and the technical side.

How do these values translate into the design process? It means that each step of the way, we have to remember that the users, both providers and guests, come first.

The only way Source will succeed is if the distribution is high, which means designing solutions for both businesses and consumers that provide true value without any extra perceived effort.

The Discovery Process

In our discovery process with the everyday individual, we identified a few key areas of opporunity for Source, The greatest pain point individuals stated was lack of immediate internet access when traveling, primarily abroad. They described the hassles of finding coffee shops or cafes abroad just to try to get WiFi access.

Another pain point individuals described was the issue of security and speed when using random networks. Often times, individuals that were able to access insecure networks found that a) they were often spotty or didn’t work, and b) they were worried about the security of their personal information.

For businesses, our initial assumptions were wrong. We assumed that generally, owners viewed WiFi access as a point of friction for their customers, whether it’s being asked what the password is over and over, or having people come to use WiFi without purchasing anything if owners publicly post the password.

After conducting interviews with many, many coffee shop owners, we learned that many don’t believe this is an issue.

Rather, businesses face the same issues as many other brick and mortar businesses - understanding who their own customers are.

Turning needs into deliverables

With these pain points in mind, it is now my job to collaborate with my team to deliver a cohesive solution that helps solves problems for both sides of the marketplace.

At a holistic level, distribution is core to the growth of the product. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for users to not only discover source, but to also get started. Users have a few ways of finding out about source. At the most basic level, Source WiFi providers will appear on any WiFi menu if in range.

Once users see Source as an unsecure network and access it, they’re invited to a captive portal. where a call-to-action to download our menubar app appears.

From here, once users download our menubar app, they immediately get a free 5 hours of data usage on the Source provider’s network.

Another key point of distribution is through referral codes. We believe that peer-to-peer sharing of these referral codes will help Source grow organically. Users are incentivized to share the referral codes with free data for each user that downloads Source. It’s as simple as clicking the link and sharing it however you’d like, or sharing it using one of the social icons below.

Finally, we’re excited about partnering with existing businesses. This would allow us to distribute Source exponentially, as for every customer that wants to get on WiFi has to go through Source. For businesses, we plan on providing a point of sale integration, as well as an analytics dashboard that displays easily digestible metrics for business owners based on the data each router collects. This solves the ambiguity and mystery for business owners wondering who their primary customers are and how to best reach them.

Low Level Design Decisions

So far, we’ve only designed and developed our menubar app for MacOS. We are currently in the process of designing and developing an Android app, as well as our analytics dashboard for business owners. I’ll discuss a few of the key design decisions and tradeoffs behind the menu bar app, which you previewed above.

Providing user feedback and communicating all states

Our menubar app communicates all possible states, including inactive, searching, and just connected.

Typically, our menubar app should connect automatically to a nearby router. However, if not connected to a Source network, it takes the far left state, the offline state. If users click the call-to-action to scan for Source networks, it takes the middle state, and if successfully connected to a Source network, it takes the far right state for a few seconds before going to the default screen.

Keeping the app simple with a single call-to-action, paired with friendly illustrations, provides our users with a sense of familiarity and cheerfulness.

And while the technology behind the app is extremely complex, we mask it by keeping things familiar for users.
Displaying in terms of time left instead of data left

After asking our potential users about time versus data left, we learned that our users prefer the amount of time remaining, because data is much more abstract and less tangible.

The amount of time updates in real-time, depending on what you’re doing in browser. For example, if you’re watching a high-quality Netflix video, the time remaining might immediately change to reflect the data usage.

Leveraging MacOS system to manage more complex actions.

Once users access the preferences through the settings (gear icon), they’re taken to a familiar, MacOS systems panel to manage more complex actions, such as setting up auto purchase of data or managing their personal account.

We decided to do this to keep the app as simple as possible and as familiar as possible for the users. From an engineering standpoint, it’s much easier for our front-end engineer to develop our preferences panel natively for MacOS than to build from scratch, and for our users, it’s less learning because this panel is something they’re familiar with.

Requesting Free Access

One of the most common use cases we anticipate here for Source users is if their friend becomes a host, then the friend’s WiFi network shows up as a Source network. A friend visiting his Source provider friend will not want to pay for his friends wifi, so it’s as easy as clicking the WiFi dropdown menu and requesting free access to the current network.

Once the provider’s friend requests, it automatically shows up on the providers Source menubar app as a simple accept or deny call-to-action. It also appears as a MacOS notification, which provides even easier access for both parties.

Looking Ahead

There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done on Source. Right now, our engineers are working hard on implementing a basic, MVP with a raspberry pi that will serve as our router.

From a design perspective, I’m currently focused on exploring our Android app, as well as the design for our business dashboards. I’m excited about what the future holds for Source.