Sketchnote – Virtual Reality Design Process

A concise Process to Designing a VR experience

Kumar Ahir
Sep 4 · 3 min read

In my earlier article Virtual Reality experience design plan, I wrote on different elements to consider when planning a Virtual Reality experience. The article focussed on the strategic aspect of designing a VR experience.

In this article I take you through the journey of designing a Virtual Reality experience from start to finish. Rather than focussing on the principles these are straightforward activity steps that are followed in a normal VR design process. The objective here is to present a clear and concise road map of VR design process, so that planning one becomes easier. The road map will help you plan your schedule, deliverables, people and skills, tools required

While the Design Process remains the same with focus on User, Goals and Context, I have tweaked some part to adjust to the need of Sprint which is normally spread across 5 days. Below are the main stages of the process

  1. Research
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Spec Building
  4. Prototype and Build
  5. Usability Testing

Research

We always begin by understanding our users, their needs and goals. Creating a Personal which represents users will help make Design decisions. Apart researching User and their life, it’s also important to research academic publication especially for this medium. Since VR is new medium it is necessary that research done in academia is utilized for avoiding pitfalls.

There are numerous ways to conduct User research. Based on unique requirements of VR medium we need to unearth data that helps us not just understand the user but also the physical space and environment they work in.

Brainstorm

While brainstorming for VR experience it is necessary to consider the aspect of space and 3D models. New ways of interactions with virtual objects and avatars can be discovered by simple exercises of body storming and Improv techniques.

Remember the famous Imagineering technique proposed by Disney to create memorable experiences.

Spec building

This phase is all about documenting the ideas that should be put in execution for creating prototypes. VR is a medium which unless tested can’t be rolled out. Unlike traditional flat screen media which has patterns standardised VR medium is still in flux. This is also attributed to the fact that a lot of hardware, SDK and platforms employ their own set of design patterns. Vive and Oculus have totally different set of controllers.

Prototype and Build

The specs are handed over to developers. A quick prototype simulating the important interactions and transitions is to be build to get early user feedback on the interaction design patterns and affordable of interface elements. The prototype also allows to test the ergonomics of the experience.

Usability testing

In the last phase of the iteration we do qualitative and quantitative Usability testing of the VR experience based on the prototype. Different aspects like experience during first 30 seconds, affordance of UI, movement in the space, usage of tools and Lear ability etc are tested during this phase.

Qualitative test results will signal whether user enjoy being in VR experience for longer time, quantitative ones guide for making the experience better where it lacks in providing good UX


To learn UI/UX Design for Virtual Reality using Oculus, Get mentorship from industry experts from Samsung, Microsoft, Cisco, IDF and start your career as a VR UX Designer, check out this course offered by Designerrs Lab on “Designing for Virtual Reality”.

Kumar Ahir

Written by

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

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