Makara is a beautifully designed and functional app born out of the thesis that there had to be a better way to invest in one of the most dynamic assets ever: cryptocurrencies.
We partnered with Makara’s Co-Founder and CEO, Jesse Proudman, and his team to create an educational and intuitive platform that would bring transparency and accessibility to investing in crypto. Once the product was successfully launched, Betterment, the leader in digital investing in traditional portfolios, acquired Makara to offer a crypto solution to their over 730,000 customers.
A blooming yet intimidating sector
Whether you have already invested in cryptocurrency or are still struggling to grasp the concept of Web 3.0, it's highly likely that you are aware of crypto's ever-increasing presence. In fact, a July 2021 survey of roughly 1,700 American adults showed that 89% had heard of Bitcoin.Not only that, but the 2022 Super Bowl was the most-watched television broadcast in the United States of that year, and it was dominated by crypto-related advertising, with several companies spending up to $7 million for a 30-second slot.
Not only that, but the 2022 Super Bowl was the most-watched television broadcast in the United States of that year, and it was dominated by crypto-related advertising, with several companies spending up to $7 million for a 30-second slot.
The growth of crypto and the pressure to invest in it may seem intimidating. An estimated 295 million people worldwide now use cryptocurrency exchanges, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, according to 2021 data from Crypto.com. Despite the potential to enjoy high returns, there is also the danger of falling victim to cryptocurrency crime, with scammers stealing $14 billion worth last year. So, where to start if you want to jump on board with crypto investing?
The crypto world is complicated. It can be weird, scary, and most of all, unknown. Many people recognize the opportunity and want to be a part of it, but are fearful because they don't fully understand it.”
The road to a lighthouse called Makara
When we started designing Makara, Jesse explained to us the shady context of cryptocurrency investing in 2021, and how they tried to fix it by co-founding Strix Leviathan, which became one of the most comprehensive software suites designed to trade these dynamic crypto markets.
However, Strix could only accept high net-worth investors, leaving out the broader investing public. That didn't sit right with them. They envisioned something similar to a crypto mutual fund but digitally native. They wanted to focus on diversification, thematic exposure, and choice.
Over the next seven months, using their own software, they began developing Makara as an investment platform and one of the first SEC-registered investment advisors focused on crypto.
“We wanted Z1 to assist Makara in designing a user-friendly, simple, and intuitive experience across our mobile app and website. If clients have a hard time navigating the platform, they could feel fearful they are 'not doing it right’ and may make a mistake and lose money. An easy-to-navigate app can give users a feeling of legitimacy and comfort to interact.”
Crypto investing in a user-friendly way
Although they had a clear vision of the product and a well-developed brand, Jesse required Z1’s expertise as an experienced digital product studio to take the concept to the next level. A difficult interface would promote the feelings of fear they were trying to quell. Jesse was keen to team up with Z1 to collaborate on his mission to give confidence to investors who are entering unfamiliar territory.
The design team at Z1 was thrilled to partner with Makara and relished the challenges to overcome. The main one was translating complex, difficult-to-understand flows, such as investment within the crypto world, to working professionals with no experience.
We wanted to convey the role Makara plays in the clearest and simplest way, how the service worked, and what the user should expect. Cryptocurrencies are not straightforward, nor are the markets, so putting those two things together for potential novice investors was not an easy task.
An educational, intuitive, and trustworthy UI
We translated Makara’s strategy into an intuitive and educational platform where users are advised throughout their crypto journey.
Our goal was to design an experience with an engaging natural flow that encourages interaction, while promoting trust and security.
A seamless connection between design and development
The Z1 design team showcased their ability to adapt as a variety of different technologies were used in Makara, which involved hours of research and training. Initially, our designers began using Whimsical for diagramming and information architecture but soon switched to Figma for wireframes, mood boards, and the final UI.
The app was created in React Native to facilitate its availability on iOS and Android. We understood the constraints of the technological part and looked for the optimal mechanism to create a user experience with the least possible friction.
To guide the user through the app, we put together an animated onboarding process with figures and minimalist aesthetics. We used After Effects and Lottie to include visual metaphors that convey how easy it is to use the product and the transparency of the service.
A connecting object was used to transition between the different screens in the onboarding process—a handy narrative resource for the user to stay in the flow until the end. Thus, we designed the elements to change between screens smoothly, providing fluidity and harmony. In this case, the connecting object was a yellow dot symbolizing currency, which we can see in the animations, including the boat trip, the scales, and the balloon.
“We had a blast working with Z1 and are thrilled with the incredible app their team helped us create.”
Makara obtained its regulatory licensing in March 2021 before officially launching in May of the same year. With 10K+ downloads from Google Play and many others on the App Store right after it officially launched in May 2021, users rated it 4 out of 5, highlighting its easy setup and slick UI.
Betterment, a world leader in digital investing in traditional portfolios, announced its acquisition of Makara to enter the crypto space in February 2022. With this acquisition, Betterment now offers the option of expert-built portfolios, in-depth resources, and a simple investing experience in crypto.