Top 6 Takeaways We Learned Making the First-Ever VR Infographic

Hiker just finished what we think might be the first-ever VR infographic (viewable only on mobile) with our partner agency BHI. Here are our six top takeaways from the experience.

#1. Infographics should be moving to VR executions.

VR is an extraordinary and unprecedented tool for sharing and driving engagement with information. And with Google 360 video, VR is easy to deliver to a wide audience. Imagine a VR infographic underwater, with fish swimming by, about ocean health. Or looking around the towering buildings of Hong Kong’s financial district to see Asian economic trends. With the right partner, anything is possible, and viewer engagement can move to entirely new levels. We’re thrilled to make more of these.

#2. VR infographics require a new kind of writing.

Infographics usually contain a range of small, detailed visual insights. In VR, you can’t control what your viewer is seeing, and they aren’t going to see everything simultaneously. Viewers are with your content sometimes, and not with it other times, and they are in control of that engagement. Which means your storytelling must be able to function in completely opposite directions. This is like a node-based story structure — taken together, it’s a whole, but you can’t develop a linear argument for your major points. You need to write for non-linear reading. That takes a new kind of planning for content creators.

#3. VR time is different.

Most motion designers work with start and stop. In VR, there is a start, but there is no stop. This loss of something happening in a fixed amount of time is a massive step forward for the introduction of gaming interactivity with non-game content. How fast should animations loop? What if viewers require different amounts of time for each component of an experience? Do some loop at 2x speed, some at 3x speed? And how detailed do you want to get for your VR infographic? How many surprises do you want to plant? Do you want to make an experience that delivers something new if someone turns back to it? Really exciting questions.

#4. When writing for a VR infographic, consider legibility.

We had to really simplify copy for VR. While resolution is improving, it’s still not 1:1 and you’ve got to overcompensate to make text genuinely legible. That means writing visually, with as few words as possible, will make for a better viewer experience. This is best practice for infographics already — but in VR, the stakes are higher. Too much copy and your information literally can’t be read.

#5. Be ready for long render times.

Unlike traditional cinema where you’re rendering what you’re seeing, with VR you’re also rendering what’s behind you, and on top of you, and beneath you — at all times. Our LA machines seemed to steam up a little by hour 10 on this one. We’ll move the next one to Kilimanjaro (our multi-core beast of render power in NYC), because once we get more detailed in our VR infographics, it’s going to take massive render power to make something lifelike and genuinely immersive.

#6. We think we’re going to see deeper engagement levels with VR infographics.

In online video, you’ve got 10 seconds if you’re lucky. That’s hard for brands wanting to build loyalty and engagement. But with VR infographics, we see a whole new level of engagement. As Google’s reported, 360 video drives higher levels of engagement and sharing than traditional video. Viewers can move themselves around an experience and become a part of your information story. It’s a powerful new way of communicating, and we expect to be seeing (and making) a lot more of these.

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