Augmented and virtual reality has sprung into ubiquity, and the global pandemic has increased its velocity. Robust use cases are rapidly emerging across industries such as manufacturing, medicine, and retail with ostensible approachability and necessity. While complex instructive experiences, such as manufacturing troubleshooting, often require a headset, cost-prohibitive hardware is no longer necessary for all occasions. Most users can access experiences via their mobile devices.
So, how does your team approach this territory? When is the right time to recommend the technology to your client? Then, how do you make an experience that's worth its' salt? Enter design principles.
Design principals are the set of guardrails in Design Thinking which inform the entirety of the thing you are making. Using design principles will guide your product to success. So, let’s get into it. What are a few design principles for a successful AR/VR experience?
Make it empowering
The experience should be enabling, provide user agency, and promote a playful inquisitiveness. The goal defines the level of the appropriate agency. So, consider whether your users should have an exploratory experience that is directive or unrestricted. Regardless of the affordances given, the experience should embolden and delight the user with minimal friction.
Make it inclusive and considerate
Design for the edge case and make it universally accessible. Consider and anticipate the unique needs, desires, and limitations of users in the context of the technology. If they love the experience, everyone else will too. Interactions should be logical, gestures physically comfortable for everyone, and all the senses accounted for.
Make it goal oriented
Begin by sincerely unpacking and comprehending the problem you’re solving as well as the overall business objective. Don’t choose AR/VR because it’s trendy, but rather because it’s the right tech solution for the problem. Ask yourself, is this solution desirable, viable, and feasible? Adobe AR expert Nick Babich writes, “AR in an app should be a layer of added value that reduces the time required to complete tasks. AR should empower the users and make them more productive.”
Make it easy
It’s safe to assume that users will naturally choose the most uncomplicated path within your experience. So, make it easy to adopt, comprehend, navigate, and explore. Remember, first impressions matter, and users shouldn’t have to struggle to get their bearings. Therefore, the user interface should be clean and effortlessly navigable.
Make it clear
The user should clearly understand the goal and their role right out of the gate. Questions your team might ask are: Is the user human or something else? What affordances should be permitted to the user? What type of environment are they interacting with? Ease of discovery and inciting curiosity is critical. Still, the user must always receive a clear direction to prevent frustration and confusion. Helpful wayfinding keeps your user on the right track and will promote more prolonged engagement.
Make it safe
Design with a protective eye and prioritize safety. Be cognizant of where you intend users to use the experience and which directions and gestures are required. A spatially conscious experience is imperative to the overall safety of users and others.
Each project will come with a unique set of challenges and goals, but the fundamentals of designing a great experience persist. Good luck, and happy designing!