Thinking about the User Experience in AR Experiences

Tips from a UX expert on how to plan, build, and perfect an immersive AR experience. How to keep users engaged, prototype, and make something awesome.

AR is coming out of the hype-cycle and has begun to see innovative real-world uses such as the Ikea Place app. I thought the time was ripe to share some trade secrets about building immersive AR experiences.

Don’t lose the plot: Start with the story

A captivating narrative is the core building block of any engaging AR experience.

The “opening wow”

AR has the best results when paired with a slightly tweaked plot structure, or by using a device we call the ‘opening wow.’

Nonlinear experience

Another key difference is that a story in an AR experience isn’t as linear as it might be in a novel or movie.

Your attention, please: Tips for keeping the user engaged

The storytelling power of AR carries with it an equally powerful responsibility — keeping the user engaged and rewarded.

1. Building for laziness

My team and I use an approach we like to call “building for laziness.”

2. A multi-sensory approach

The cues don’t need to be visual either.

3. Gamifying the experience

Another pathway to retaining engagement is by gamifying the experience — because who doesn’t love being rewarded?

The bricks and mortar: Building your AR experience

So, you’ve got a compelling story that’s perfect for AR — but how do you build it?

1. The right team

A good starting point is making sure you have the right team for the job. Software design is a team effort, so multi-competency is paramount.

2. Planning the process

Next up, planning. Plan your process.

3. Design-oriented mentality

My team and I like to have a design-oriented mentality from the get-go. This is just as much about the experience looking good and functioning well as it is about it being fit for purpose. There are three main areas of design, which overlap and inform each other:

Three parts of building an immersive AR experience

1. Blueprint

2. Prototype

3. Produce

Jam3 is a design and experience agency that partners with forward-thinking brands from around the world. To learn more, visit us at