"I'm not a visual person. I had to see it in like every different possible combination. I would harp on it for hours of my day and like forget to feed my child."
Sharon, kitchen renovation
"Once I saw part of the floor installed I realized 'Oh crap, I made a mistake.' It was hard to tell from the little sample. I had them tear it out. It cost a lot of money."
Liel, bathroom renovation
People who are not design professionals have trouble visualizing how all the different products and materials will look together.
The decisions are permanent and expensive. The high stakes of the decisions cause stress and anxiety for the home renovator.
The pain point is the final selection. Because the user can't visualize the final product, they are making big decisions with imperfect information.
To solve the problem of allowing non-design professionals to visualize their designs, we conceptualized a VR experience that would enable users to play with different materials and products to see how they would all fit together
Onboarding. The transition into VR must be designed to allow the user to acclimate and learn the possibilities and rules of their new digital environment.
Touch interactions vs Point interactions. In user testing we found having the menu attached to the hand to be cumbersome. Therefore, the interactions were broken up into two types depending on what the user was interacting with.
New flow for changing materials. We found that different users had different mental models for changing the material and fixture options. Some chose the material first and then applied it, and others chose the surface then tried different materials. The user flow of changing the materials was updated to allow for the different preferences.
Feedback and affordance. Because VR interfaces are unfamiliar to most users, we found that providing affordance and feedback thru micro animations, sound & haptics helped the user learn and understand the interface.
VR is a great tool for spatial design. Because of the number of permanent interrelated decisions of fixtures and materials, we used a bathroom as a test case, but the positive feedback from user testing has convinced us that this concept can be scaled up to allow users to design any space.
UX design for VR. The process of designing, user testing, and iterating VR prototypes has given me a greater understanding of what works and what doesn’t work when designing a 3-dimensional user experience.
Test smaller, earlier, and more often. When designing in a brand new 3-dimensional medium with few precedents, it’s best to test small interactions to establish that they were learnable and natural to the user, and then design an overall system using these validated interactions as building blocks.
The UX of a VR product goes beyond the headset. Product designers for VR experiences must understand what works and doesn’t work better in VR and design a cohesive ecosystem that integrates with smartphones and computers to create the best user experience.