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Is There a Future for UX Design in the Metaverse?

Alekh Verma | February 8, 2023
UX design in Metaverse

Over the last decade, we’ve seen social interactions and communications changes across all social dimensions. This change has prompted the evolution of the digital world. As e-commerce develops and the number of social media platforms rises, we are rapidly moving toward a society where digital natives predominate. Due to the continually rising demand for everything digital, technology and design innovation are both necessary.

Out of all the recent developments, the one that has created the most noise is the metaverse.

Now traditional marketing methods and strategies are ineffective as more and more consumers transition from users to players in the age of the metaverse. It has opened up new avenues for most industries. However, in this article, we’re strictly focusing on how the metaverse may affect the future of UX.

What about the UX designers of the future? Will the Metaverse provide them with fresh opportunities? What should they change to stay current? The way most industries operate has been drastically redesigned as a result of the emergence of the Metaverse. Before we answer all these questions, we must understand the metaverse in detail.

What is a Metaverse?

The term metaverse was first introduced in a 1992 sci-fi book by Neal Stephson titled “Snow Crash”. In the book, he imagines a 3D environment that people may virtually inhabit. In the future, he projected, we will be able to live in a real-time, online world where we can adapt, grow, and interact.

Simply put, users "live" in the Metaverse, a virtual environment that mixes video, augmented reality, and virtual reality. Through activities like conferences and virtual travels around the world, the Metaverse's supporters imagine its members working, having fun, and keeping friendships similar to all the activities and relationships in the real world.

According to a study conducted in March 2022, 32% of internet users in the United States claimed they were ‘interested’ in using the Metaverse, and 12% claimed they were ‘very interested. However, men were found to be more interested in applying UX design in the Metaverse than women. And even though the Metaverse has its roots in science fiction novels and films like Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, it is no longer merely a work of fiction.

As we move closer to the Metaverse, designers are rushing to create experiences that integrate existing technologies to create a fantastic future of UX design. These experiences will mix virtual reality, augmented reality, and now Extended Reality.

As we toy with the idea of shifting from being consumers to players in an online environment dominated by user-generated content, the Metaverse will unavoidably alter consumer attitudes and call for a more involved user experience design across many sectors. Whether in e-commerce, the corporate market, gaming, or entertainment, the Metaverse expects more marketers.

What is UX Design?

UX (User Experience) Design is the overall impression a user has of a company or brand's online services and products. UX designers build a brand or corporate experience rather than focusing on aesthetics. Although they are equally concerned with appearances, running the brand is their top focus.

As we establish partnerships with new technology, UX has grown in importance. New forms of VR/AR technologies are changing the internet landscape, which is why virtual evolution is gaining popularity. It should come as no surprise that UX is becoming increasingly important as new software increases the opportunities for interaction in the digital world. UI designers are in charge of producing visually appealing and engaging digital environments.

The first difficulty in front of the UX designers will be figuring out how to lead their businesses and users through this new virtual world. Is there going to come a time when we’ll be holding meetings in virtual settings with our virtual avatars? Are customers going to be invited to online roundtables in carefully designed digital spaces? Perhaps we'll allow customers to browse online stores and try on items before making a purchase. If there is something familiar about this, it's because we now use virtual tools to improve the client experience.

In light of UX design in the Metaverse, UX designers need to start planning a strategy for how to make that experience feel more tangible, memorable, and interesting.

The future of UX Design in the Metaverse

The Metaverse has forced UX designers to reconsider their methods. Any digital software or product's success or failure can now be attributed to the discipline of user experience (UX) design. The reality is that a product's user experience dictates whether it will become the next big thing since people's attention spans are continually getting shorter.

Now that consumers use digital media more regularly, UX design is more important than ever. And moreover, if we uncover how UX design in the Metaverse can lead to providing a better experience to the users then it’s going to become much more crucial. Let’s explore some ways in which the arrival of the Metaverse will enhance UX design in the future.

1.  A gradual shift from users to players.

Designers must think of users of technology as players rather than as passive users. If UX designers want to improve user experience across all online platforms, they must create a fully immersive experience that enables a player to live in and participate in a virtual environment rather than merely experiencing it. UX designers will need to apply holistic design in all areas of UX in addition to building metaverse environments. It also applies to the creation of advertisements, content, and website designs.

The line separating the physical and virtual worlds is becoming increasingly blurry, forcing designers to make decisions on how to seamlessly incorporate a product, service, or advertisement into the Metaverse. The virtual sneakers that Nike just launched as NFTs serve as a perfect example here.

Users are far more likely to interact when UX design is used. Players in the metaverse gain knowledge as technology develops. Intelligent digital marketers and designers are needed.

2.  Use of Ethical Designs

We have faith that those creating the Metaverse would prioritize the needs of its users and that one day it will be a virtual world where we may all reach our full potential. Thus, it’s important we create a virtual world where ethics take precedence.

In the Metaverse, design decisions are more important than ever. It is important for UX designers to base their designs around ethics which dictates that there shouldn’t be any bullying, toxicity, or inappropriate behavior in a virtual environment. Designers need to create a range of interconnected 3D environments that may interact and communicate with one another in order to enable people to work, socialize, and play in a fair and safe manner.

However, the Metaverse may ultimately prove to be a toxic and hazardous digital disaster, or it could become a digital paradise with flourishing businesses and social interaction, only time will tell.

3.  Implementation of 3D Designs

We will be able to roam around 3D locations like stores and offices with virtual reality (VR) headsets, so we won't just be "seeing" the Internet on computer monitors but will also be able to "experience" it.

Switching from 2D sketching methods to 3D modeling tools that can create immersive virtual worlds and experiences will be the first step in becoming ready for the Metaverse. Digital designers can brush up on their 3D design fundamentals to get ready for the Metaverse by visiting websites like Gravity Sketch and Tvori, which offer educational and collaborative tools.

Internet use will eventually involve participation as a 3D active participant in a realistic virtual network as the user develops into a Metaverse avatar. Forget about two-dimensional design; in the Metaverse, good design requires 360-degree immersion and goes beyond basic usability, aesthetic appeal, and intuitiveness.

4.  Designing Stories

Storytelling is frequently a prerequisite for successful design. Only with engaging stories do we stand a chance of ever having created something, be it architecture, products, video games, or visuals- only engaging stories help us interact with big concepts. So, if you see the Metaverse as an infinite web of experiences, designers will need to imagine stories in order to construct meaningful and efficient means to connect all those memories together.

Websites' 2D restrictions might soon be rendered obsolete. Just imagine, what if you could buy scuba equipment from a website that was "underwater" and located in a made-up ocean in the Metaverse? Imagine walking into the online store of your favorite company and being met by the CEO's avatar, who can offer you special discounts, respond to all of your questions, and already knows your name.

A 3D virtual environment that offers immersive storytelling—typically essential in video games—will surely be at the center of Metaverse creation given the virtually endless design possibilities.

As an illustration, Dimension Studio revealed that their 2021 revenues doubled as a result of testing out fresh UX marketing techniques in the metaverse. The User Experience-focused company that specializes in the creation of immersive experiences inside the metaverse and the end of volumetric content is one of the original pioneers in the future of 3D forms of UX design.

They created a novel kind of virtual production in partnership with Balenciaga that let users enter a platform within a virtual environment and try on Balenciaga's goods on their upgraded avatars.

5.  Observational Designs

Any website or brand can benefit from careful observation, but good designs always demand it. They are able to predict where, how, and when the finished product will be used because of this expertise. To understand how the user's actual physical location will affect a product's usability in this new immersive world of the Metaverse, designers must focus on field research.

As consumers will access the Metaverse through VR headsets from actual physical locations, designers must take into account how their products will perform in a variety of physical contexts. Instead of focusing on how quickly a user might complete a goal, the challenge for Metaverse designers is to assess if the experience created is comprehensive enough to inspire goal pursuits.

6.  Shared Encounters

UX design in the Metaverse will signal the beginning of a paradigm shift in how people communicate. There will be a synchronized shared experience with hundreds of millions of individuals.

Think about a concert with tens of millions or maybe hundreds of millions of attendees who can all see and interact with one another. It's amazing that in 2019, the Marshmello concert in Fortnite was viewed by 11 million people. Your experience here will be different from that in the Metaverse, despite the fact that this is a big advancement for open online events.

In Fortnite, the Marshmello concert has been played 100,000 times with an average of 100 players each time. As a result, users that attended the performance only interacted with or observed a small number of other users. In Metaverse, users can view and interact with anyone in attendance during a virtual event.

7.  A non-static setting

Nothing is static in the Metaverse; rather, it is a dynamic online environment. Through interaction with the virtual environment, users can transform objects, and because physical processes like metabolism and metamorphosis have an effect on them, objects can also change and evolve on their own.

Every item can be used in a variety of ways. For example, wood can be used to construct a house or a campfire. People will find connecting with the virtual environment much easier if it closely reflects the real world.

Once users completely understand how the virtual world functions, they will begin to take the rules for granted. Thus, if creators of the Metaverse want to create a virtual world that functions independently from the real world, they need to specify the rules for the system upfront and make sure that these laws never alter.

8.  Easy way to learn and discover

Metaverse's real worth will come from the services it offers. The Metaverse will offer a variety of services and entertainment. It will essentially provide everything you could possibly want. It should be straightforward to find services or switch providers. Learning from metaverse interactions should be as power-efficient as possible. As soon as they enter a virtual world, users will ask themselves, "What can I do here?"

The world's design should provide users with clear indicators so they can swiftly scan their surroundings and ascertain what they can do. The technology should enable seamless switching between experiences for players.

Users of the Metaverse will probably have a map with POIs (points of interest), similar to those in open-world video games. They will have the option of teleporting there rather than traveling by foot, car, or plane.

The Metaverse's UX Design: How to Improve It

The Metaverse is the most complex digital platform ever made by humans. However, the technical complexity of this platform is only one factor; another is how well the interaction in this area will be planned. For product designers, creating exact interactions with the virtual environment is a huge effort. To make the Metaverse's UX design better, follow these steps:

  • Utilize narratives

It is predicted that the size of the Metaverse will keep expanding in the future. A large following provides a diverse range of customer experiences with it. As already discussed before, as a UX designer you need to prioritize storytelling more than ever. As human beings what sets us apart from our ancestor species is our ability to create stories and connect with each other on the basis of this shared experience.

Thus, now the future of UX design in the Metaverse depends on the designers finding a way to unite the users' experiences into a compelling narrative that sets you apart from the competition. You may engage customers and draw them away from a product or service by infusing a narrative into your design, creating a more genuine consumer-led relationship with your brand.

Even better, figure out ways to fit your UX design into their current virtual narrative. Find a way to market or advertise using a metaverse story that already exists. For instance, the skating firm Vans created a skatepark just for gamers to use in their own virtual worlds on gaming platforms like Roblox.

  • Incorporate VR design with 3D tools

Did you know that 58 million Americans use augmented reality or virtual reality technologies on a monthly basis? In order to correctly design the Metaverse, UX specialists are turning to new 3D modeling choices like Tvori and SketchUp that will better be modeling and prototyping in a 3D virtual world.

Furthermore, it's critical for UX and UI designers to educate themselves on the most recent VR and AR technology. By mixing elements of augmented and virtual reality into daily life, designers may put themselves in their customer's shoes and envision the image they want to develop for immersive success.

  • Sit and take notes

For beginning UX designers, it would be advisable to do little more than observe, as the Metaverse is still in its early stages. Start user testing and pay closer attention to your competitors. Using tools like Google Analytics and Finteza, you can evaluate your most recent engagement data, audience demographics, and site analytics to set yourself up for success.

Designers must understand how their target market interacts with the Metaverse now and how their products will perform in cutting-edge virtual environments.

Conclusion

UX designers must modify their viewpoints, competencies, and work methods in order to provide experiences which open doors into the metaverse's future of UX design. They must stop viewing people who utilize technology as "users" in order to do this. They should consider them to be "players," or people who exist, reside in, and live in this virtual world. ‘

To provide "players" with exceptional experiences, UX designers must create an immersive design. Simple goals must be totally committed to in order to be attained and maintained. They must focus on the ethical questions that the creation of these virtual design environments raises. Because design decisions will have a significant impact, it will be essential to approach the Metaverse's application of UX design as a human civilization rather than a piece of software or technology.

Alekh Verma

CEO and Founder at eSearch Logix Technologies!

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