It’s a tale as old as time — from the Wright brothers’ invention of the first airplane to Steve Jobs’ 2007 iPhone reveal: Groundbreaking innovation changes the world.
But what we often tend to omit from the stories around these victorious wins for humanity are the smaller, considerably less glamorous improvements that often contribute just as much — if not more — as a catalyst for evolutionary change.
EIP-6963 was one of those smaller, yet incredibly important, wins.
Not just because of the direct impact on user experience that EIP-6963 will have for years to come, but because the development and adoption process taught us a valuable lesson too. Small victories can (and do) lead to significant progress, and we should never stop striving for better — no matter how big or small.
Throughout industries old and new, incremental innovations have been the backbone of product evolution time and time again. But when it comes to Web3, we’re often so focused on the “bigger tasks” at hand that we become victims to our own builders’ blindspot, missing opportunities to help our industry grow.
One can wander in the depths of Web3 today and likely experience — in one sitting — the typical highs and lows of its offerings. While improvements may be enough to convince the next one billion to begin their crypto journey, notable oversights across others can bring on enough of a headache to ensure they won’t try again.
One such area? Browser extension wallets.
In the somewhat earlier days of Web3, where wallet optionality was few and far between, Web3 users would typically have — at most — one browser extension wallet, and could generally enjoy a relatively seamless experience using it to connect to their favorite Web3 apps.
But as browser wallets gained popularity, fresh cracks in user experience quickly came into view. What lay beneath the seemingly coherent experience was an outworn, single-funnel process that simply wasn’t built to scale with a rapidly growing industry. The process at hand only allowed a single browser wallet to present itself at any given time, creating a fractured, winner-takes-all race condition when a user had more than one browser wallet installed.
As a result, what once felt like a sleek, intuitive process for consumers began to present a bizarrely competitive and extremely limited approach to Web3 connection. Any user with two or more browser extension wallets installed could no longer connect a wallet of their choice with an app, but instead, faced a brash and unwarranted connection request from the wallet that simply reached the finish line of this race condition first.
Suddenly, what should have been an obvious and pretty simple process to begin with resulted in a years-long UX faux pas.
With a focus on scalability and practicality, this month’s approval of EIP-6963 — a new standard that enables the discovery of multiple injected wallet providers — unlocked a simple solution to finally offer an alternative to these dysfunctional, frustrating and unsolicited browser wallet wars.
With major wallets and developer tools like MetaMask, WalletConnect, OKX and Coinbase sprinting to implement the new standard, a simple, sleek, intuitive connection process for browser extension wallets was finally back at play.
Read more from our opinion section: Yes, criminals use crypto. No, don’t blame the developers.
Like many Ethereum Improvement Proposals before it, EIP-6963 was created as a means to an end. All these years of wallet battles and user fraught, resolved with something that, in years to come, will likely seem so trivial, so expected by our global audience. Nothing radical, not “the next big thing,” but a modest, diplomatic solution that could profoundly impact Web3 forever.
Web3 still has a long way to go to become the go-to technology for users. We’ve got plenty of hurdles on the road ahead, with many that will require new, somewhat disruptive, and at times, radical ideas. But while that may be the case, there’s much to be said of the need for smaller, humbler, yet equally as powerful incremental improvements.
It’s time to take a page from the history books and remind ourselves: Absolutely do sweat the small stuff.
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