User Research & Ideation
Storyboarding & Prototyping
High Fidelity Mockup
As the Chief designer at Fulldive Virtual Reality and having over 2M downloads and over 20K users per day on Google Play as in October 2016, I realized a real challenge to create a competitive VR product in the market. Leading a team of 2 designers and working closely with the founders of Fulldive, I laid out the foundation of human centered design process at Fulldive VR.
One of the biggest challenges in VR was to create an experience where users would invest their daily leisure time in. There are different reasons why VR hasn't become a daily ritual in most of our lives, but the main reasons are 1. VR/AR technology is relatively new to the public and can seem scary or unfamiliar 2. Good VR experience can be inaccessible, especially with products such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift that are costly. 3. The impression that VR is made for Techies.
With the challenge in mind, one of the problems I am trying to solve with the team is “how can we make VR more accessible to everyone?” Seemingly a hard-to-reach goal, it is why we decided to focus our design process on mobile based VR.
To increase daily users in mobile VR, convincing users Fulldive is the number 1 place to view VR content straight from your smartphone
Grant — Design Lead, UI, UX, Icon Illustration
Chloe Ng — User Research
Vitalii Nikiforov — UI, Icon Illustration
1 - Competitive Analysis
We looked at popular VR apps out there including Google cardboard, Gear VR Social, Homido, VTime, Vrse that are closer to a mobile tier VR, and realized that a lot of the apps we see lack a robust content curation system.
Few of the main pain points include:
1. often time the experience isn’t truly immersive— users have to take their phone in and out of headset to perform tasks.
2. Lack of ways to discover new content
3. User cannot interact freely with one another; when they can, these social features are often really hidden
Things that we like:
1. having nice 360 environment really convince a sense of reality
2. information is organized really nicely
3. interaction design, being more important than ever before in VR, generally includes clear user feedback and allows virtual reality to be more convincing to the users
2 - User Research
The objective behind this user research is really trying to figure out people’s content sharing habit—we truly believe that one of the most fundamental attractions of VR is the content itself, and the second most important thing is the ability to share good content with on another.
With this research we want to specifically understand 1. How do people share with one another
2. What about the shared content that is most relevant and attractive to the users.
Limited by time and budget, but with collaboration with Chloe, we ended up interviewing around 5 people with regards to their sharing habit, and gathered around 40-50 responses.
3 - Brainstorming
We came up with a few dozens ideas with a quick whiteboard session, and going through each one to share our thoughts and also evaluate to see if they have been done, or is engineeringly impossible.
4 - Prototyping
With the sketches that we agreed upon, we decided to build a VR product that let you discover what other people are watching as a main way to discover new content. Fulldive VR would not only be a launcher app to other engaging VR experience, but have its own ecosystem of users who will be able to communicate with one another. We build wireframes using our UI component library and used Sketch VR plugin to view the wireframes in VR.
4.1 - Setting Up Grid
This part was tricky but crucial. While we have more space than ever to place our UI elements. We had to be cognizant about the width and height of each entity and where they are placed to avoid visual clutter and decision paralysis. I did some research on grid methods that other designers have used, and decided to combine what I think is useful to create the grid that you see below.
4.2 - Mid to High Fidelity
Overall, we went for a darker theme UI as expecting users to spend more than just a few minutes in VR, we want the experience to be as comfortable to the eyes as we can from the visual design side.
5 - User Testing
User testing for VR is costly, so instead of spending hours trying to learn Unity and user test with a fake product. We take the heavily iterated design we have and implement it directly, but only push out to 5% of our user base and receive feedback from them
A snippet of things we learned:
i. People are complaining about the keyboard interactions being annoying to wait for loader especially if you are relying on autoclick. This lead to our later development of voice first input.
ii. People really wants the contents they like to watch, people really want to save what they like even in VR. This led to a redesign of the profile page with categorization based on user's reactions to video
iii. Videos is the top used app, then following app market, camera app, and so on. We want to better use the hierarchy and prioritize video content and VR app content in future iterations.
6 - Results
With continuous iteration and collaboration with the engineering and business team, we now have 2M downloads and over 20k daily users.
7 - Post Mortem
- It might have been good to have voice recognition as the priority before keyboard option in input methods. As most users are with their headset while using fulldive, we expect users to be in a environment where they can also speak to the microphone for voice recognition.
- In VR, users tend to focus only on the things that are immediately in front of them. It is worth exploring more how to curate those content/ what algorithm would make sense for users to see the best content.