A design for gaming: the evolution of Bitcasino.io
When Bitcasino.io launched in 2014, it was a very different beast to what you see today.
At the time, Bitcoin casinos were still a relatively new phenomenon, and the expectations users had differed considerably from that of a traditional, fiat currency online casino.
With that in mind, our team put together a UI which engaged these customers, delivered our product in the most efficient way possible, and looked to establish Bitcasino.io as the leading brand in the space.
The result may look a little dated by today’s standards, but that is a reflection of the speed at which design evolves - both within the world of casino and online more generally.
The current iteration of Bitcasino.io is the result of several years of work from one of the best product design teams in gaming.
Here’s how we got to where we are.
What should a casino look like?
When considering the design of Bitcasino, it was critical that we listened to our users. It was feedback from these users which informed our decisions. By analysing their preferences, and listening to their views, we could identify and improve upon pain points and create a far smoother experience.
Asking what a casino should look like may seem basic.
But asking what anything should look like is actually a question which has stumped philosophers for thousands of years.
We know that Plato was kept up at night by the idea that everything has a non-physical form - essentially an ideal essence that defines an object in people’s minds.
Yet it is fair to say that design has not always been the strongest area of the online casino industry, a sector where outdated designs and a ‘follow the crowd’ approach has often taken precedence over innovation.
So we may know what people think an online casino should look like. The tougher part is figuring out where we should meet these expectations, and where we should challenge them.
Watching wider web trends
The current Bitcasino.io homepage plays with these ideas, and also looks outwards to the world of design for inspiration.
Online casinos are usually busy places, with tens of games displayed on the splash.
People may expect this, but elsewhere in the world of web design, ‘less is more’ has very much become the key mantra.
Our focus has been on discoverability, empowering users to access the games and content which most resonates.
So, we stripped things back, but at the same time, we ensured the most convenient navigation patterns for each type of device (burger on mobile, and sidebar for desktop). This means players always have an easy way to access whatever they may need.
Interface vs functionality
In good design, the way something functions should inform the way it looks.
As our casino has grown, there is a lot more it can do. This takes several forms: more games, more languages, more bonuses, more features.
And we are proud of the fact that the growth of our casino has been driven by the user. We aren’t telling the user what they should do; we are building out our product to ensure it meets the requirements of our customers.
Of course, the temptation is to bombard the user with all this information, shouting from the rooftops about every possibility.
But from a design perspective, this might very quickly turn into a mess.
Our solution? A personal touch. No two users are identical, and any great design should look to engage directly with a particular user.
This meant serving personal recommendations whenever possible, or highlighting trending games when not.
It also meant making navigation and search as seamless as possible, so each user could find the corner of the website where they feel most at home.
By combining best practices with usability testing and feedback, we feel we’ve achieved something our users can relate to.
Need for speed
When the Bitcasino mobile platform was refreshed at the end of 2018, the look of the UI was not the only concern. We also completely rethought navigation and layout, essentially delivering an entirely new architecture.
While mobile has limited real estate compared to desktop, we combined best practice mobile usability principles with design patterns to turn an apparent limitation into a strength.
Our users continue to enjoy the results; a greater share of our users now decide to play on Bitcasino via a mobile device.
As well as a fresh design, the team focused on speeding up the serving of the website on mobile devices.
Slow loading is one of the biggest frustrations for mobile users, and can ruin the UX even when delivering a world-class design.
With that in mind, we were particularly proud to release a new mobile product which boasted speeds up to eight times faster than competitors.
The future of casino design?
What will Bitcasino look like in another five years?
The simple answer is that we don’t know. The future Bitcasino design will be informed by a myriad of different factors: changes in user behaviour, the evolution of design, and what is possible from a technological perspective, to name just three.
But what we can say is that the future design will be the result of the same processes we have in place today.
Ultimately, we are building a product to the same brief, and looking to answer the same questions.
Is our design enabling fun, fast and fair gaming?
Is every decision placing the customer at the centre of the universe?
And are we pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the design of an online casino?
We are as excited as you to discover the answers.