Virtual Reality’s Implications for Designers

“As the Internet of things advances, the very notion of a clear dividing line between reality and virtual reality becomes blurred, sometimes in creative ways.” – Geoff Mulgan

Virtual reality is changing the way humans interact with one another, products, websites, and physical spaces. These days, the industry is growing so rapidly that by 2020, research predicts it will account for $30 billion in revenue worldwide. Sure, it’s simple to see how virtual reality will affect the gaming and entertainment industries, but what about its effect on design and user experience?

Defined as “the recreation and artificial computer-generation of real life situations that can be felt through the senses,” virtual reality is going to change the face of websites and user experience. Designers are adapting as WebVR, the JavaScript API that allows for virtual reality via web browsers, advances.

Next Level User Experience

But enough with the technicalities, let’s talk about one of our favorite topics – user experience! Imagine navigating to a hotel website and being able to tour the room from behind your screen as if you were physically in the hotel. The same idea goes with buying a new residential property and envisioning how to design its interior. Furthermore, you could even go shopping for clothing with the ability to try everything on from the comfort of your bedroom.

Hassle-Free Transactions

Another consideration is how virtual reality will make processes, like buying a new car, more hassle-free. For example, Audi is introducing VR to give its prospective clients a way to envision their car and personalize it with different colors, interiors, electronic systems and more. Rather than just creating your dream car on a 2D website, the headset will allow users to feel as if they are in the car they’d like to construct, even if it’s not already made.

Enhanced Information

What do all of these examples have in common?

They provide the customer with more information before they have to commit to a purchase, which creates a doubtless purchasing experience. The more details a buyer has about a product, whether in the form of images, reviews, videos, or more, the more likely it is that they will follow through with the purchase.

The technology is not only providing for a virtual reality in real-time, but it’s also allowing consumers to “experience” the future (in a way) before having to put their money where their mouth is, making buyers remorse a potential thing of the past.

As a website is the face of a business, this means that virtual reality will change a company’s entire relationship with its consumers, and design is the necessary intermediary to make this interaction comfortable and transparent for its users.

Designers once had to manage a 2D experience with “windows” on a screen, but with the 3D implications of VR, designers need to take their concepts to the next level, literally!

When designing for this new norm, these are some preliminary design tips our team has to share:

  • Motion sickness can be a real issue. When designing, refrain from quick movements and rapid turns.
  • Color will play a big role. Depending on where someone is accessing the website, the brightness should be taken into consideration as they could be in a darkened space.
  • Be real or don’t: don’t mix realistic objects with the unreal, as this may disorient the user.

With all this being said, the truth of the matter is user experience and design go hand-in-hand, and with whatever changes are still to come, designers will adapt to make the shift into virtual reality feel as seamless as possible.