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The New Age of UX Design: VR & AR

Feb 2, 2022
by Sydney Frenkel
The New Age of UX Design: VR & AR

The Importance of User Experience in Virtual Reality

Interest in Virtual Reality (VR) and the metaverse are not new. The first attempts to create a three-dimensional Internet arose in 1995. But the idea was not widely used due to low computing power, hardware limitations, high cost of technology, and other factors.

Of course, it is worth noting that VR is still in its early stages of development, comparable to the birth of the Internet. There is a long way to go from prototypes to working products that can bring real value to end-users. Augmented Reality (AR)  is the reality of today and is being actively implemented in navigation apps, games, medicine, and many other areas, becoming a useful assistant for users and drastically improving user experience. Big Drop’s VP of Business Development, Aaron Sines believed that: 

“We’re moving past the theoretical use cases of AR/VR and quickly into “real” world applications in both work and entertainment. For companies, meeting users where they are has long been a key function of delivering effective digital experiences, AR & VR are set to bring a new wave of opportunities to this notion.”

 

We hope that the new wave of interest in VR will bring real benefits to users and open up opportunities and experiences that were not available before. In order to create a seamless experience, a deep understanding of how the technology works is required. Designing VR is comparable to a web/mobile site but much more complicated. 

In order to create a successful VR and AR product, the User Experience (UX) needs to be custom and fine-tuned. The importance of UX is crucial – it fulfills the users’ needs, providing positive experiences that keep users loyal to the product/brand at hand. UX Research leads to a better understanding of user habits, resulting in a more meaningful, bespoke user experience. 

When it comes down to VR and AR, UX is a major component. The entire product is centered around the users’ experience. It is important to tailor UX to the target audience to keep each user engaged in the product. It is critical for users to have a secure, functional environment throughout the experience. 

Virtual Reality Breakdown

VR and AR are fueled by AI (artificial intelligence). While VR has the capability of replacing reality, AR is able to add to reality, projecting information on top of what is already seen.

From a digital agency perspective, VR is made up of two main components: environments and interfaces. The environment is what the user is being transported into. The interface refers to the layers in the experience, giving users multiple ways to interact, navigate, and control their VR experience. When designing for these two components, it’s important to keep in mind that the VR experience has to fit with the capabilities of people as much as the system. 

Similarities of VR and Web Development

Similar to building a website, knowing your target audience is key. Understanding your audience gives you the ability to deliver a tailored virtual experience to each user.

While understanding your target audience to craft personalized experiences is important; it is just as important to conduct research and discovery into the users’ journey for VR and AR as it is in crafting a website. Strategies to nail down the user personas, including stakeholder/client interviews, exploratory research, focus groups, and usability testing, will certainly make all of the difference. We want viewers to feel like they’ve been transported to a digital presence built for them. 

In VR, the use of Eye Tracking enables us to further understand consumers, just as the use of heatmaps does on a website . By understanding  where the most engagement-rich spots are in VR, and a website, we can make more data-driven decisions about what users want, and in turn, can create a stronger, more polished experience. 

To build a better UX, rich storytelling coupled with interactive elements give us the perfect foundation of success. These components used together generate an immersive UX, creating a digital product that truly captures the product in its totality . 

Differences of VR and Web Design

While VR and web design have many similarities, the 3D world of VR differs significantly from a  2D desktop; designing for a flat screen versus designing for virtual space has its own set of challenges. 

Delivering the best user experience is critical to overall success. Factors like Field of View, Latency, Head Movement Tracker, and Eye Tracker must all sync together to produce a faultless application. It is crucial that the UX entails a believable virtual experience while also providing a clear role and goal for the user. Perspective, freedom of navigation, and consistency are all important factors in producing the perfect VR experience. 

VR provides a completely immersive virtual experience of reality equipped with visual and audio cues. Smell, taste, and touch are in the works to be incorporated for a more real-life experience. Considering users’ safety and comfort is a must, combating motion sickness with good design and development practices will help keep users comfortable. Most cases of motion sickness are caused by issues with sensory inputs; because there is a lot of variation across consumers, user testing is crucial.

Where VR Will Take Us in the Business World

It is believed that VR and AR will be some of the most transformative tech trends in the next 5 years. Kirill Yarovenko, Big Drop’s UX/UI Lead, says:

“I believe that virtual and augmented reality can become indispensable communication tools for people with disabilities. There is a great chance to succeed in this field and bring valuable experience to end-users, open opportunities that were not there before. Just imagine that people with limited mobility can virtually visit the best museums in the world, travel to countries where in real life there is no way to go, enjoy architectural sights and explore new cities.”

 

VR has the potential to bring together people of all kinds throughout the world. Instead of simply seeing the other person on a screen, you’ll be able to feel as if you’re in the same room with them, even if you’re thousands of miles apart.  

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