Today I have an article for you that I have been working on for a long time.

It’s a long one. And a good one.

You should read it if any of this is true:

  • You are interested in user experience
  • You like analyses and comparisons of different websites in the same industry
  • You have anything to do with cryptocurrencies
  • You are curious how you can be very bad at usability, yet very good at making a lot of money

The article is about cryptocurrency exchanges. It’s a comparison of four major exchanges and what they’re doing right (surprisingly little) and what they can improve (a lot).

For each exchange, I compare the very first impressions and steps:

• Homepage

• Registration process

• Onboarding process (if any)

• Clarity, simplicity, and effectiveness of the above

Here is the shortest one of them. For a full analysis and conclusions, go to the full article.

User experience analysis of Kraken

Kraken is a major cryptocurrency exchange, operating in Canada, the EU, Japan, and the US. Kraken provides Bitcoin pricing to the Bloomberg Terminal. It used to be much larger in terms of daily trading volume, but it’s still in top 10.

Let’s have a look at their homepage.

If I told you about a company that had “Sail the high seas of success” as the main slogan on its website, what would your guess be about its main product? Coaching sessions? Self-help books? Luxury cruises?

The tagline helps a little, if you notice it at all: “Buy, sell, & trade Bitcoin.”

A good rule of thumb: when you have a slogan and a tagline on your homepage, try switching them and watch the page immediately become more clear about what it does.

There. Isn’t that much clearer? No need for guessing. It still doesn’t tell the whole story, because you can trade many more cryptocurrencies, not just Bitcoin, but it’s much better nonetheless.

What else is misleading on the homepage?

The very top yellow bar, with the text “The improved trading engine is released. Some important details on our blog. Read more.” It’s been there since January. And it links to a blog post telling you that the site is back online after “recent scheduled downtime.” Do you need to display it in May? At the very top of your homepage?

There are also two conflicting calls to action. Two large “Sign up” buttons. One under the form on the left, and another in the main menu on the right. Ideally, you would have only one thing to do on the page.

Anyway, I figured out what the site is about, and I decided to sign up. I’ll go ahead and click the “Sign up” button in the menu. It takes me to the registration form.

This is practically the same form as on the homepage, with a slight improvement. It tells me what the password requirements are: “must be at least 8 characters in length and contain letters, numbers, and special characters.” Good, no need to guess and retype in frustration.

One unnecessary thing though: why do you even need a username? It’s not an online game where you need a username to be identified by. An email is a unique identifier. No need to ask for another one that you can quickly forget.

When you fill the form, you get to a very similar screen. This time for account activation. It asks for an activation key, and you can only learn what that is if you read the fine print under the first form field. Otherwise, you’re left wondering where the hell you should get the activation code. Luckily, at least the username is already pre-filled. Once you figure out where to look for the code (in an activation email) and fill in the form, you’re finally done registering.

Not the most accessible first screen, but at least there’s a hint at what you should do next. The blue box encourages you to get verified. The onboarding could use a little more handholding and ease me into the platform, but at least I’m not left wondering what my next step should be.


Homepage: 6 (out of 10)

Registration: 6

Onboarding: 2

Clarity: 6

Summary for Kraken

The homepage is relatively clear, the registration process has only minor hiccups, and onboarding is a (tiny) bit better than Binance’s. Which isn’t saying much, because Binance doesn’t have one at all. Overall it’s not bad, but it still has a long way to go.

See more

Out of the four reviewed cryptocurrency exchanges this one wasn’t that bad. But it was also far from the best.

See the full article and learn what not to do, and also how to stand out in a crowded market. In a good way. One exchange was by far the best and it’s doing things extremely well. It’s worth keeping an eye on them.

Cryptocurrency exchanges, time to grow up

PS. I think currently there’s no other industry (online or offline) where you can have $1 billion in profit in the first year of the company’s existence. One of the reviewed exchanges achieved just that. And no, it wasn’t the best one.