Google Glass needs new UX guidelines

Things to check out before you get into designing and developing Google Glass application.


Google Glass is fundamentally different than existing mobile platforms in both design and use. Hence it is important to think about UX guidelines for Glass and where Glass could go wrong, in order to provide the best user experience.

In this article, I am going to talk about UX guidelines for Glass that I’ve created while I was working on a Glass application for fashion photographers as personal project.

1. System design consideration

Add information or object to an existing world — Augmented experience should add meaningful information or objects to a user’s current situation in order to improve their experience. Users appreciate the augmented experience that is relevant and practically more useful for them in a given situation.

Ask user only when necessary — When designing an augmented reality(AR) experience, automate the application as much as possible. However, when user gestures are required, make it smooth. For example, users find it awkward when they control the AR with one hand while controlling the device with another.

Save users’ time and effort — One of the biggest benefits of using Google Glass over smartphones or tablet is that it can remove the interaction middleman when necessary. Therefore, Google Glass should allow easier information memory and retrieval that would barely be possible via other devices.

2. Embodied Interaction

Allow comfortable and natural gestures, manipulation and movement — During augmented experience, the required gestures and postures for using a Glass application should be natural and follow the major human movement.

3. Content Design

No heavy flash animation — The risk of users developing eyestrain or eye fatigue is much greater than on a desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Group the contents logically — Add only one content to a card display and put the most important things first.

4. Understand the environment

Collect all details of the physical environment to be augmentedSince the augmented experience can happen in many different environments, it is important to consider as many details as possible, which include:

  1. Different noise levels of the environment.
  2. Different reception qualities and their effect on AR.
  3. How augmented experience can be different indoors and outdoors.
  4. If user will be moving or not.
  5. The effect of sunlight on AR.

5. Balancing the reality and virtuality

Do not isolate users — Allow connectedness and collaboration with people around AR when necessary.

Do not try to excel the reality — While augmentation should be utilized for things that are not possible in the real world, radical virtual reality can interrupt user acceptance

Clearly differentiate the reality from virtual reality — Allow users to easily differentiate the virtual reality from reality. If they are confused, they will keep trying to differentiate the virtual reality from reality by wearing off their Glass.

6. Support appropriate level of user control

Image credit: http://www.louthianlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/distracted-driving-google-glass.jpg

User initiated information rather than proactive notificationExcept information such as weather alerts, nearby events and store promotions, users prefer to see self-triggered information.

Minimize user’s attention — Since monocular view removes real world stimulus from users, AR should require minimal attention.

7. Support security and safety of user

Image credit: http://gameindica.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/glassDating.jpg

Protect the identity of user — Collect users information only when authorized by them(including taking pictures/videos).

Support safety of the user — Always allow their experience to be stopped because it shouldn’t get in the way of users when they are suddenly placed in a hazardous situation.

Closing note

I tried to cover this UX guideline from a variety of different areas. I hope this article was a good UX introduction about Google Glass and served to open your considerations to the broader perspective if you are trying to design/develop a Glass application. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, comments and even concerns. Please feel free to contact me through any of the usual means (Twitter, Linkedin, mason.mideumlee[at]gmail.com)

Next topic: Where Google Glass could wrong?