04 August, 2015

UX Principles for designing Virtual Reality

1. Everything Should Be Reactive.

Every interactive object should respond to any casual movement. For example, if something is a button, any casual touch should provoke movement, even if that movement does not result in the button being fully pushed. When this happens, the haptic response of the object coincides with a mental model, allowing people to move their muscles to interact with objects. When designing a button: use a shadow from the hand to indicate where the user’s hand is in relation to button, create a glow from the button that can be reflected on the hand to help understand the relationship, use sound to indicate when the button has been pressed (“click”)

2. Restrict Motions to Interaction

The display should respond to the user’s movements at all times, without exception. Even in menus, when the game is paused, or during cut scenes, users should be able to look around. Avoiding Simulator Sickness and slowness is the key part of improving the UX in Virtual Reality Applications. Do not instigate any movement without user input. Reduce neck strain with experiences that reward a significant degree of looking around. Try to restrict movement in the periphery.

3. Text and Image Legibility

Bigger, brighter and bold texts should be used to indicate widgets. Images should be realistic and appealing to the user. The mind of the user is going to be entirely mapped into the virtual reality for a prolonged amount of time. Texts should be readable and legible for unstrained viewing of the user. Brighter and vivid the colors are, more involved the users will be.

4. Ergonomics

Designing based on how the human body works is an essential to bringing any new interface to life. Our bodies tend to move in arcs, rather than straight lines, so it’s important to compensate by allowing for arcs in 3D space.

5. Sound Effect

Sound is an essential aspect of truly immersive VR. Combined with hand tracking and visual feedback, it can be used to create the “illusion” of tactile sensation. It can also be very effective in communicating the success or failure of interactions.

Google’s Design Guidelines for Virtual Reality

Google has listed some key principles involving physiological and ergonomics  consideration to be noted while designing for Apps that can run on Google Cardboard. They are pretty much straight-forward for the designers to understand. 

  1. Using a Reticle
  2. UI Depth & Eye Strain
  3. Using Constant Velocity
  4. Keeping the User Grounded
  5. Maintaining Head Tracking
  6. Guiding with Light
  7. Leveraging Scale
  8. Spatial Audio
  9. Gaze Cues
  10. Make it Beautiful

Should UX Designers start learning about Virtual Reality?

When the Technology giants Facebook, Google and Microsoft are spending a huge amount of money in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, they are definitely the potential areas of development and future. UX Designers should definitely start practicing and start adapting the principles of Virtual Reality during the design process. User Experience will play a major role in the success of this entire concept as this is going to have a emotional bonding with the users throughout the journey. 

It’s especially exciting to work in experience design right now. The problems are all new — we’re not bound by old interaction models. We can and will fail, but the successes will change how we experience the world.