Web3 is an exciting space that invites innovators, builders, and creators of all kinds to contribute to the development of the ecosystem. Decentralized applications (dapps) can be launched freely, without the limitations of centralized infrastructure and instead be owned by communities. Builders of all kinds are invited to create dapps that democratize accessibility and usage for end-users of Ethereum, a network soon to be upgraded with the Merge.

The Merge is Ethereum’s transition from the current Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to Proof-of-Stake that will reduce Ethereum's energy consumption by ~99.95%.

With such an immense upgrade, what concerns did Infura’s developer community have? In the weeks leading up to the Merge, how could we demystify misinformation and point our community to the right place?

Three words answers these questions: user experience (UX) research.

The Value of UX Research

UX research is the process of uncovering the unmet needs of customers and users. Researchers do this by listening, questioning, and empathizing with everyone they survey and speak to.

At Infura, we love supporting Web3 builders and learning about their use cases, technology requirements, developer environment, experience with Infura, and more. Research ensures that everything we design and build is for our customers, community, and developers around the world.

To prepare for the Merge, Infura’s research team partnered with product managers to understand the key concerns developers had about how the transition to Proof-of-Stake would impact their project. We wanted to ensure all voices were heard and all answers were answered.

Solo Stakers Education & Community Awareness as Research Goals

One of the main goals the Product and Research teams wanted to achieve was to educate solo stakers, staking pools, and staking services that use Infura on what they need to do to prepare for the merge. This was because they are the network participants who will be impacted the most by the Merge since moving to PoS requires them to use consensus and execution layer clients like Hyperledger Besu and ConsenSys Teku. Failing to upgrade their clients would mean their node could go offline at the time of the merge.

We understand that managing a own node may not be the easiest and finding the right resources might be difficult.

In the spirit of bringing our community together, we held a series of workshops over the course of 7 weeks, focused on the key insights and actions developers needed to know to prepare for the Merge. We brought in subject matter experts like Infura’s Co-Founder, Michael Wuehler, Hyperledger Besu Senior Product Manager, Matt Nelson, Kuhan Tharmananthar, Codefi Staking Product Lead, and Coogan Brennan, ConsenSys Academy Director and Author of My Journey to Running an Eth2 Node to host tutorials and informatively engage the community.

Research Questions

The research questions we asked in the community survey were:

  1. Are you currently a validator on the Ethereum Beacon Chain that uses Infura's API as part of your technology stack?
  2. What kind of validator would you consider yourself?
  3. Are you using an execution client(s) in addition to Infura’s execution layer API (Ethereum API) as part of your validator technology stack?
  4. As the Ethereum merge approaches, how prepared do you feel as a validator?
  5. Do you have any concerns before the merge happens?
  6. As a validator, are you actively preparing and planning to be ready for the Merge?
  7. Would you be interested in using Infura as a service as part of your validator stack post-merge?

Methods for Conducting UX Research

During each weekly workshop, we spoke directly to solo stakers and staking service providers using Infura to let them know what they needed to do to prepare for the merge. Methods of conducting research to understand community sentiment included:  

  • Live research with a community survey during each workshop.
  • Analyzing survey results and iterating the surveys before every workshop.
  • Presenting live demonstrations to show developers how to merge PoW testnets to PoS testnets.
  • Answering excellent audience questions during the Q&A time of each workshop.

We did so much to gather research, but ultimately, we leveraged the power of our community through these workshops to amplify the voices of each builder who attended and answered their questions directly.

We recorded each workshop and have been sharing all of them across Infura social channels like Discord and Twitter, to ensure they’re accessible to the entire community.

Research Insights & Learnings

The insights that we captured from the survey data told a story of concerns, fears, and doubts like the security of the network and the price of ETH declining post-merge. As we moved towards our last workshop, those concerns decreased, especially after the last Ethereum testnet, Goerli, completed its merge.

As we continued to share credible resources, the information developers wanted became more specific to technical docs to help developers set up their execution layer and consensus layer combos, letting us know that what we’d been sharing was helpful.

Knowing how to prepare for the merge was a big area of confusion during our first call, but as time went on, the data showed us that developers were taking the appropriate actions to get ready.

The number of solo stakers using Infura decreased each workshop as we educated them on how to upgrade software clients for their nodes. Over 2,300 solo stakers were identified during our first call as not having upgraded their client and only 25 solo stakers were identified during our last call.

In short, UX research and community outreach helped over 2,300 solo stakers, staking pools and staking services properly prepare for the merge! Thank you everyone in the Infura community who took part. You can find the complete list of workshops on Infura’s YouTube channel here.