Blockchain Report Visualisations
My role: Storytelling, Infographics & Content Design
We published Geektime’s Blockchain report in late 2017, not long before it reached a new all-time high at $19,783.06. The subject was just reaching the awareness of the general public.
My job was very challenging - design a report that deals with complex and abstract concepts and processes. The first step was understanding it myself! I then had to illustrate what I learnt in the most accessible way for the readers.
Here are a few of the challenges in the report, and how I solved them.
#1 What the ### is Blockchain?
presenting a topic that is completely new, abstract and hard to grasp.
1.1 A solution in two parts
Brainstorming with the research team, I decided to add two things: a glossary, and a Bitcoin / Blockchain visualization.
1.2 Structuring the visualization
I used my initial lack of knowledge as an advantage - I figured that what made sense to me would also make sense to the reader who might not know more than I did. I started with general sketches, decomposing the process in a sensible way. I numbered the steps, and added a few words to each, a title and some generic icons. I played with the steps until I got to an initial structure that worked.
First Draft - Bitcoin Transfer
1.3 Looking for inspiration
Having created my own initial structure, I wanted to to verify it by looking at how other people explain this flow. I found that some went into much more detail, on questions like like private and public key authentication or block encryptions. Should we include these things as well? I went back with these findings to the research department, and together we decided to stay with a high-level descriptions, without going into technical details, as this was more appropriate for our readers.
1.4 Initial readers feedback - guerilla testing
We went around the office and asked random employees what the could understand. We learnt that:
Two don't make a network: the decision to present two computers in steps two and three, left the role of the Bitcoin network unexplained. Adding a third computer made the existence of a whole network more apparent.
The "race to encrypt" visualisation in step 4 was just unclear - why are the circles different sizes, why does one person run in the opposite direction, and is he pink?!
In addition, I named the two people involved in the transaction. This made talking about the visualization much more natural.
After users feedback
1.5 The Final Product
We added a caveat under the title - "without getting into too much technical detail" - so people who are more knowledgeable would not get upset about lack of detail. The circles were changed into computers, and step 2 (the validation) was further simplified.
#2 What does Blockchain do for us? Why is it good?
Blockchain technology can lead to revolutionary changes in many industries. We wanted to demonstrate how.
Decision making: this has to be visual, as well as textual, story
The report covered some industries that could be revolutionized by Blockchain. The description of how this could happen was quite abstract. Having read this part of the report, I approached the research department and suggested adding one visualized example for each industry, so the abstract ideas can be made more concrete. It took a few days of joint effort to think up processes in each industry that could serve as good examples of this revolution.
The goal: presenting how existing processes could be improved using Blockchain technology.
The challenge: this was a creative effort to think of possible, future use cases of Blockchain. My job was to make sure they are visualized in the simplest, clearest form. One of the more interesting examples, and completely new to me, was intergrating Blockchain in supply chains.
Case study: Supply chains in a Blockchain world
Supply chains have become a highly complex, fragmented process involving many global locations and hundreds of steps. It is very difficult to track the order of events and investigate faults, delays, and problems. Blockchain has a chance to revolutionise this $14B industry by switching to a secure digital bill of lading and digital processes.
2.1 Presenting the future process
Sea-based logistics is not well understood to the general public, so I started by drawing to myself the process as it's done today, and how it could be changed by Blockchain.
2.2 What I learned from this sketch
The old and new processes must be presented next to each other, to allow people who don't know the current process to understand the change.
2.3 First draft - looking good, but failing to deliver
It is clear that we are comparing two processes, but it's not really clear how the new one is better than the old one. I decided to add text explaining the advantages of using blockchain.
2.5: Second draft
While adding text helped, the visual was now too busy with text; moreover I still wanted to be able to demonstrate the advantages of blockchain in a visual way.
2.6: Final Version
You can view the full report at this address