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Coinbase referrals

→ Product Designer
→ Q3 2021
→ Engagement team (Growth)

This is a redesign of Coinbase’s referrals experience. Our goal was to increase referral conversion, as well as referred first buy (ie. number of referred users who complete their first trade).

3 months

How referrals work

Existing Coinbase users can share their referral link with their friends and family. Once their friend signs up and trades $100 within their first 6 months on Coinbase, both parties will receive $10 in free Bitcoin.


People problem

The current referral experience is fragmented and ephemeral. There’s no centralized place for users to invite friends, track past invites, or see their lifetime referral rewards.


As a first step to redesigning referrals, we wanted to look at how we could deliver low-cost optimizations in order to reduce customer support tickets and increase conversion for referral signups.

Sign up page

In addition to making stylistic changes to the signup page, my main priorities:

  1. Remove the app up-sell banner at the top because we were taking people away from the main job to be done

  2. Make sure the signup form was visible above the fold, especially on smaller devices


SMS invite

Since the current pre-populated text message was lengthy and hard to parse, I leveraged GraphQL to add a graphic to the SMS invite, and partnered with Content Design to shorten the text copy.

This not only created a more visual and delightful experience, it also provided a better affordance for the invited user.



Sharing Coinbase and crypto with your friends should be fun, intuitive, and rewarding.


Help users

Easily share their love of crypto with friends and family

Help Coinbase

Increase referrals by making the experience fun, easy to understand, and extensible to new Coinbase products

Help Growth

Optimize referrals as part of the engine for trade growth and make referrals our #1 acquisition channel

Current experience

The only way for Coinbase to attribute a referral is if the referred user signs up using their friend’s invite link. And due to privacy, we currently can’t track actions that users take in the native share sheet once it’s triggered. This is suboptimal from a growth perspective because it means we can't show personalised sharing options for our users.

We have the opportunity to surface these sharing options in referrals and reduce friction for the user, while providing more channels of attribution.


Decentralized entry point

Although there are pros to having decentralised entry points across the surface, my hypothesis was that we could drive more referrals if users had a dedicated entry point that’s discoverable and accessible.


New architecture

During this time, there were architectural changes happening on the main consumer Coinbase app. This was timely because one of these changes involved the adding the more menu on the home screen.

Users can access this menu by tapping the hamburger icon. I felt like this was a good home for referrals isn’t a high-traffic surface compared to trade-related features, so it didn’t have to live on the same level as the user’s portfolio balance for example.

JD_More menu.png

Referrals jobs to be done


Users should be able to easily share their referral code and link with their friends


Users should be able to quickly invite people from their favorite messaging/social platforms


Users should be able to see who they’ve invited in the past and track their total referral rewards


I started with this initial framework where I added quick social share options to reduce friction for users to invite friends. The social share options include popular messaging and social media platforms such as Twitter and WhatsApp.

Users can also see their top 3 most recent invites with the ability to see more. To access additional features such as invite contacts, there’s a sticky CTA at the bottom which will trigger a bottom sheet that will house these features.


UXR findings

I partnered with my researcher to conduct a usability test via We interviewed 6 participants across North America, UK, and Australia. We asked them to invite a specific friend to join Coinbase and observed how they went about doing it.



Based on the findings, I iterated on the framework for our MVP experiment. In the MVP, we’ll focus on helping users share and invite.

I partnered with Content to shorten the terms copy, and partnered with PM and Engineering to build robust social share options to reduce friction and have them localised based on the market the user is in.


Final polish

Centralized entry point

Referrals now lives permanently within the “more” menu on the homepage. We also added a dynamic badge next to the menu item to reflect the current reward amount ($10 in free BTC). This badge also allows us to experiment with different reward amounts in the future.

This badge also allows us to show localized currencies based on the users’ locale.

JD_Entry point.gif

Frictionless sharing

Existing users can now invite friends from their preferred messaging and social media platforms. These options will also be dynamic and show different options based on the users’ locale.

We also partnered with the Gifting team to up-sell their flow since it was a complementary experience to referrals.


Experiment results

After ~1 week, we saw an initial dip in our metrics due to logging issues and a lack of engagement on the copy link CTA.


My hypotheses as to why there was a lack of engagement on the copy CTA:

  • Having 1 CTA to copy the link was likely an unfamiliar interaction pattern

  • The titles could be read as two steps you had to do sequentially, which is not the case

  • Having the gifting up-sell was one too many options and created cognitive overload for the user


Proposed solution

Based on my hypotheses:

  • I defaulted back to a familiar interaction pattern (show link in input field and add “Copy” CTA)

  • I partner with Content to update the titles so they read as two distinct ways to share

  • I removed the gifting team’s upsell to keep the job focused on referrals

In addition to these changes, I also partnered with my PM and engineer to make sure we had the proper logging in place.



After we re-ran the experiment, we were able to positively impact all metrics, including our north-star metric.

Global entry point

As a fast follow to a successful experiment, Product leadership wanted to explore ways to make referrals more prominent. I explored 3 different directions for bringing more visibility to referrals.

We iterated on the treatment where the entry point is nested within the top nav bar, next to the notification icon.



The final iteration shows the entry point expanded when users are on the homepage, and shrinks when users scroll to only show the icon.

Due to the success of this experiment, this entry point is now a permanent part of the product.



Don’t deviate from familiar patterns

Use familiar interaction patterns (input field + CTA to copy referral link) that matches users’ mental models

Focus on the core user job

Reduce cognitive overload by removing other actions (gifting) that are not the core user job (inviting)

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