Digging into the Lightning Network

Our Role
Product Design
Design Management

iOS and Android


The Brief

Galoy is a FDIC-insured digital bank account and Bitcoin wallet powered by the Lightning Network–a Layer-2 Bitcoin protocol. Wow, that’s a lot of jargon… let’s see if we can’t do a bit better. What if we just say: this app lets you buy, sell and hold Bitcoin, but first it helps you earn while you learn about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies so you get the lay of the land before you get started.

Much of what’s out there in cryptocurrencies is daunting and confusing. Our main challenge was developing an identity and design approach that lowers barriers and demystifies Bitcoin so people feel prepared to start digging into trading? The client approached us to develop a character to be the face of an approachable brand, and also to design a mobile interface that equally focused on ease and friendliness. We had five weeks from initial brief to project completion, so you guessed it, we had to work… lighting quick.

The Badger

The idea that grew out of early conversations was to develop a character that could act as a guide to introduce people to the concepts of Bitcoin in an accessible way. The Galoy honey badger was one of several character ideas we explored. In the end it was the one we felt most strongly about because we felt we could best use it in this scenario. We developed ideas for the badger in numerous scenarios, early on we didn’t quite know what situations the badger would find itself in so we developed the figure in a way we could quickly adapt given the tight squeeze.

Do you want to play a game?

We explored several approaches. Eventually we landed on presenting the education portion of the app and product onboarding as a game that guides the audience through various lessons about Bitcoin, the Lightning Network and cryptocurrencies in general. While unlocking functionality users of the application earn “sats” (the lowest denomination of Bitcoin). This leverages the “show me, don’t tell me” approach. By completing short quizzes and guided processes we can be assured that new users have a basic understanding of the concepts before they start buying and selling Bitcoin. Each lesson provides insight into the workings of Bitcoin and as you make your way through the lessons, which get deeper into the concepts as you go, you are rewarded with sats that are added to your wallet. The badger offered a metaphor for digging through content. The lesson navigation screen provided an opportunity to play that up even more, the trick was to find a method that was flexible enough to add new lessons and easy enough to code in the time provided. We developed foreground and background modules that could be stacked in even or odd pairs to make it possible, there are some little badger-related touches along the way.

The Badger’s World

As you can see there were some abstract Bitcoin and cryptocurrency concepts that needed to be explained. We quickly designed a system of illustrations to fill out the badger’s world, playing with different scales and iconography.

The App

The main goal was to bring some of the simplicity and feel of the onboarding experience into the app itself while maintaining the audience’s confidence that this is in fact a true banking application, with all of the functionality your regular banking app would have. We kept it clean and used the icons to carry the design system across from the learning experience.
Illustrative icons
The team at Codename Design are lighting in a bottle. They move fast, read between the lines to understand what we need and work through our ideas to shape them into something great every time.

Chris Hunter

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