Interview with ENS team (Nick Johnson)

2 min readAug 1, 2018

Many ENS workshop and hackathon participants expressed interest in contributing to the ENS project.

In this “Interview with ENS team” series, we will interview some of core ENS team members. To start with, we interviewed Nick Johnson, the creator of ENS.

Nick playing D&D as DM at CryptoCompare office in London

Hi, Nick. Can you let me know how you came up with the idea of ENS?

When I started working with Ethereum a couple of years ago, one of the first things I noticed was that the user experience for working with blockchain addresses wasn’t any better than other blockchains, despite the ability of smart contracts to improve matters. I looked into it, and while I found a couple of abortive efforts for a naming system, there was nothing that was widely adopted and supported. I started researching possible architectures, and eventually came up with ENS as we know it today.

It’s been almost one year after ENS was launched. Are there any interesting observations you have made?

The most challenging aspect has been building and evolving an incentive system to ensure that people use ENS in a way that works best for everyone — discouraging squatting and encouraging active use. The auction/deposit system is our first attempt to do that, but it’s something we’re still actively working on.

What is your current focus in terms of ENS development?

We’re focusing on a few core efforts at the moment:

  • Improving usability, by developing better UIs and libraries.
  • DNS integration, allowing people to use DNS domains inside ENS.
  • Designing the next version of the .eth registrar.

What do you recommend to start from if someone wants to learn more about ENS?

Definitely start with the docs at

If someone wants to contribute to ENS, where do you recommend to start from?

Join us on the Gitter channel at!

What area of ENS development and adoption do you want help the most?

Anything that improves usability and developer adoption is a top priority — support in more libraries, DApps and wallets.

During the Friday workshop, what kind of discussions are you expecting the most?

I think the design of the permanent registrar will be a major topic of conversation.

During the hackathon, what kind of things do you expect peoople to make?

I’m really not sure! I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with.

When you are not working on ENS, what do you do?

Run coding contests and play D&D, mostly!

Thanks, Nick!

Are you interested in hacking with Nick? The ENS Hackathon registration is closing soon!