Design Patterns for Decentralized Systems

Exciting news! Simply Secure was awarded a SamsungNEXT grant for design in decentralization. This allows us to develop our long-standing idea of a pattern library for decentralized systems.

What do we mean by that?

By “design patterns”, we mean a best practice user flow or interaction that projects can use or draw from. An example of a design pattern would be a pop-up window for just-in-time consent. A pattern library, of course, is a collection of patterns. By “decentralised systems”, we mean protocols, apps, and services that are non-centralised–that includes both federated networks and the stronger concept of distributed networks (p2p).

We’ve been seeing some common challenges across the board for decentralization projects, such as communicating privacy, key management, and even just explaining what decentralized systems are. (Read more in our post :eyes: )

All projects working in this area are facing similar issues, and these issues don’t have to (and can’t!) be solved individually. Our hope is to get projects in this space to work together and come up with common solutions, and agree on design patterns to implement in a decentralised system. (The paradox!) This would also have the added benefit that users new to the decentralised world will only have to learn few new design patterns to participate in these projects.

:point_right: Looking for collaborators!

Have you been thinking about similar problems in the past? We’re looking for collaborators to create UX/UI elements for decentralized systems. Write us at

Are you working on a decentralization project? Get in touch – we’d love to speak to you about your needs and challenges for design and usability issues.

Thanks to everyone at 35C3 who pitched in, esp. @jan from Nextcloud (who typed up v1 of these notes!), Ben from Matrix, Roel from XMPP, @elioqoshi from Ura Design, Ksenia from, Cade from Tactical Tech. Ping also @cameralibre.


Awesome, @bumbleblue! that’s really great to hear. Want me to post this on SSB too?
I’d love to have a chat about it, and see if I can help somehow - I’m actually going to be in Berlin later this month! (May 20th-24th)

I can’t wait to see what you come up with! I’m working on a decentralized project now (I’ve been learning to code) - it’s an SVG remix tool (dat link: dat://ce9562c4853aeef4ac44bdb6af87c3edadf9dad9695e146e2614fb4fc29ec716) - currently in a very basic state, just remixing templates.

I’m trying to keep it decentralized-first, and it’s creating a bunch of tricky UX ideas and issues for me to grapple with!

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actually I took the CC-BY license as a ‘yes’. re-posted on SSB :slight_smile:

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That’s wonderful! Would you like to come for a visit and tell me more about your UX woes? I will be getting some input from dat folks next week also, so this is really the start of something!

yeah! that would be great. I think mine are still UX ‘WTFs’, they haven’t quite developed into fully fledged ‘woes’… but they’re on their way.


I have been working on the design of decentralised applications using direct connectivity between mobile devices.

In a nutshell, I am looking at the possibilities afforded by making mobile devices able to detect, coordinate, and create direct data connections with each other. This adds new limitations (e.g. connections need to be explicitly established) and opportunities (e.g. physical proximity between users may be used to trigger actions).

I wonder if this could be an area that would be interesting for your project?

Pinging @jdittrich and anyone else interested in contributing to our pattern library:
This fall, we will run three workshops on design patterns. We kick things off with language and terminology at Our Networks next Saturday, Sep 12.

After that, we will host two workshops on developing and systematizing our design patterns with the help of Lola Oyelayo-Pearson as a fellow designer and facilitator.
Dates are Sep 23 and Sep 30, and YES, non-designers are welcome, too!

Hope to see many of you there!

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Hi @bumbleblue, finally published something that I remember us talking about at CCC – a pattern for decentralized signup, how we do it at Nextcloud: How Nextcloud designed signup for decentralization

Hope that’s helpful, and if so let me know how to contribute that to the pattern library, or if the link is enough. :slight_smile:

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