Using Old Designs to Introduce New Ideas: What Bitcoin Sites Have Taught Us

If you’ve had your ear to the ground in the tech world over the last few years you’ll have no doubt heard of Bitcoin. Known as a cryptocurrency and hailed by some as the future of payment processing, Bitcoin is basically a currency that was created online and exists solely online.

The initial blueprint for Bitcoin was written by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and once it went live in 2009 it quickly spawned a wave of copycat products. Today, Bitcoin users around the world can pay for goods and services using a currency that has no physical form, isn’t stored in banks and isn’t regulated by a government.

In simple terms, Bitcoins are produced (mined) by computers solving complex algorithms. For each solved equation, a Bitcoin is produced and logged by the system. Because the rate of production is autonomous, the value of a Bitcoin fluctuates more than traditional currencies. However, the one benefit is that it’s independent of the global financial market.

Painting New Ideas on an Old Canvas

Credit: Bitcoin by cafecredit

Although Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies haven’t become mainstream payment methods as many predicted, people are gradually waking up to its benefits. In fact, as technology improves, people now have greater access to Bitcoin-based services and that’s helping to fuel a spending revolution.

Of course, as is often the case with any new piece of technology, consumers are often spectacle and that’s where web designers come into the equation. The best way to normalize a new product is to align it with something that consumers are already familiar with. For example, in the online casino world, Bitcoin is now becoming a popular payment method. In fact, for some operators, it’s become a way to create a niche in an already crowded market space. is an online casino that operates entirely on Bitcoins. From the moment a player makes a deposit and ante-up in one of the 150+ Vegas-style casino games to the time they make a withdrawal, players can do everything with Bitcoin. However, to make the site viable and appealing to both novices and seasoned players, Vegas Casino had to follow many of the industry norms.

How to Normalize the New

Using a combination of information boxes, casino iconography, search bars and in-browser gaming tables, Vegas Casino has a similar look to its peers. Moreover, when you take into account the popup banners, bold call to action buttons and help widgets, this Bitcoin platform has all the markings of a “traditional” online casino. From a marketing point of view this is great because new players won’t feel like they’re stepping into the unknown when they ante-up.

Looking at the site’s design in more detail, one of the keys to its success is information. While it’s important for the site to look aesthetically similar to traditional online casino platforms, these looks are useless without some supplementary information. To combat this, Vegas Casino compiled game overviews that site on the main homepage.

Instead of pinging users from page-to-page looking for information, they can simply scroll to the bottom of the homepage, select one of the headers (e.g. Bitcoin Roulette) and a window will appear. In addition to offering a neat, compact and concise way for users to learn more about Bitcoin games, the design features help with SEO.

Normally, listing 12 key phrases on the homepage would look like keyword stuffing. However, in this instance, it actually adds value to the page as each header opens up vital information for the user. The end result is a legitimate and natural way to add some important SEO value to the homepage.

Familiarity Results in Popularity

Credit: Add to Shopping Cart button by Ivan Walsh

Similarly, BitRoad is an online marketplace where consumers can purchase everything from Smartphones and tablets to cars and kitchen accessories using Bitcoin. Essentially creating a single platform for localized Bitcoin merchants so that users can buy all manner of items with ease, the site is almost like Amazon with Bitcoin. In fact, when you compare the two sites they have a similar structure.

Down the left-hand side of the page, there is a series of filters that help to define and refine the images (products) in the center of the page. Beyond this, the “add to basket” button Amazon is known for is also present on BitRoad (it says “add to cart”).

Shifting the Focus

However, by far the most important design feature is images. Regardless of the currency customers can use, people want a clear vision of what they can buy. To this end, the site’s designers have cleverly filled the homepage with a combination of static and dynamic images.

On the one hand, static images give the site a catalog feel. While on the other, the dynamic slider grabs the attention of the user and offers a way for the owners to show off their top products. Moreover, what this design feature does in a wider context is take away the focus from Bitcoin.

Because the mission here is to normalize the use of an unfamiliar currency, the best way to do that is to not make it the focus of the page. If the designers were to splash Bitcoin logos across the page it would make it make it feel different from a site like Amazon which is exactly what they didn’t want. Therefore, in situations where normalization is required, it’s often best to focus the design on something other than the main subject matter.

Make Your Designs Blend In

As you can see from this example and that of Vegas Casino, Bitcoin sites aren’t trying to stick out. Despite offering a unique payment system, developers have realized that the best way to attract users is to appear familiar. This design ideally is one that could easily be applied to any new idea. Consumers love difference, but only if it doesn’t appear too different and that’s something Bitcoin sites have clearly demonstrated over the last few years.

Featured Image: Bitcoin by Jason Benjamin