Call to Action in Virtual Reality

Call to Action are very important aspect of any digital medium. Unless the user interacts with the system and reaches the end goal, the system failes.

Kumar Ahir
Dec 15, 2019 · 5 min read

In this article understand the primary principles for Call to Actions in Virtual Reality. By the end of this post, you will be able to understand how to draw user attention that actually works and make the experience enriching.

Compelling story

Storytelling: The ability to explain a sequence of events or actions over time effectively.

A good story will guide the user to perform actions that’s expected in the story sequence. If the story is about discovery of a perfect home in Virtual Reality, user will find for that either on map. If the mental model is mapped properly in form of virtual elements and 3d models, the user will actually grab it first.

If the story is about finding clue to escape the room, user will start looking for the clues in each and everything that s(he) can interact and lift.

Oculus Dead and Buried VR game

You might ask this is very much applicable to games, but how to tell a story if it’s a utility app. Well, that app is no different as the user has entered the experience with an objective. For example, in case of IKEA, while looking at different furniture items the obvious things that user would want to do is to check variety of sofa fabric or move the furniture around or change wall color or set furniture theme. The way story can be told over here is to make them believe entering their dream home and asking to set it up on their liking. The idea of being able to create an entire interior design on their own will excite the user to spend more time and explore.


Contrasting Color

VR is a dynamic medium in which users point of view changes. Also with room scale VR user gets to move around the 3d space. With this feature the interactive items can have different background depending on the the angle from which user is looking at it or its position in space.

The interactive item should have a good contrast so that it does not gel with the background. If the item itself needs to have some specific color, then give it a temporary halo kind of background.

Below is a VR interface of a social networking app. The connection icons stand in the air and if the background is white is color there are high chances that the icons will merge with background and user will struggle to locate them and take action.

In contrast take a look at the way icons have been given a circular background to make them standout. Having them floating in VR environment also gives them affordance of being approachable and interactive.

Size Matters

The button in the corner of the room if smaller in size than the pointer then user will have to aim and focus before pulling the action trigger. Remember that in VR all the elements have size similar to physical world.

However for an interactive UI element it needs to be of size bigger than gaze/pointer reticle or finger size.

Check my article on Interactive VR targets.

Comfortable viewing zone and Ergonomics

If it’s not seen it won’t be interacted with. The call to action element need to be in the field of view of the user and comfortably accessible. Anything out of range or sight will not be usable, unless it’s an escape room game.

In the design above the Recent App section is placed down and the frequently used tool kept on the top. This makes disconnection between both the activity wherein user has to look up and down for related actions. Also the position of the top tool bar is such that it goes beyond comfortable top viewing angle of 30 degree making user raise head now and then leading to neck aches.

Design for Virtual Reality

Designing for VR medium has unique challenges when compared with flat screen interfaces. There is often misconception that the UI panels in VR are similar to the flat screen interface hence the same rules apply. But understand that these panels are first of all not constrained by a 2 dimensional window as in laptop and smartphone and second that they surround the user spatially in 3 dimension. These 2 factors are good enough to bring complexity on designing for Virtual Reality medium.

My article on getting started in VR throws some light on basic design principles.

Kumar Ahir is an independent consultant working in the field of Immersive Technologies and Product Design. He is evangelizing Design for Immersive Technologies and UX by actively doing workshops on Design Thinking, Design for AR and VR, Prototyping for Mixed Reality technologies.

He aims to create a better Design Ecosystem for Immersive Technologies.

Know more about him at, LinkedIn and Twitter

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Kumar Ahir

Written by

successful exit in first startup, AR VR enthusiast, ex CISCO, SYMANTEC, interaction designer, entrepreneur. More at

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