In 2017, web-based VR technology was nascent and untested. We suspected there were opportunities to make it better and easier to use. We were interested in building a system to allow content creators to create amazing VR experiences without knowing how to code.
Engineers and designers built a prototype of a web-based VR experience. The UX team conducted usability tests on two variations of this interface to understand what worked and what didn't for web VR.
HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE
The research was conducted in September of 2017. The EditVR product was released in Spring 2018.
MAKE OF THE TEAM
I led and conducted the research with a UX strategist. A third strategist helped analyze the data and all three of us co-wrote the report.
Try new interfaces, test them out, iterate and improve. Ultimately enable content creators to create and manage web VR experiences.
We created two versions of a web-based VR experience to test interface variations with users.
We were primarily interested in navigation and interaction designs within WebVR, so we tested two concepts.
The Version A prototype:
Navigation: footprint icon to move to a new space
Linear navigation from space to space: the user could only move to an immediately adjacent space
The Version B prototype:
Navigation: uses the location icon with an image preview of the location to move to a new space ("portal")
A "home" button to enable users to view a menu and navigate to any space in the experience
Arrows directing users to look up to see elements much higher than the horizon line in one 360° photo
We borrowed office space from friends and recruited nine kind folks for our usability test over the course of a couple of weekends.
All our users tested on both versions of the prototype. We had some of our participants use the Google Daydream device and some use the Google Cardboard. The Daydream has a hand-held pointing device for clicking, and the Cardboard requires the user to keep the center focus point on an item to click.
MAJOR FINDINGS FROM USABILITY TESTING
BUILDING AN EDITORIAL TOOL
Four Kitchens specializes in building content management systems. We became interested in creating an interface to allow editors to create web-based VR experiences on top of a Drupal backend.
After conducting the research project, we created a new product: EditVR. EditVR is a decoupled, Drupal-backed React-fronted VR editor to combine 360 photographs, annotations, sounds, and images into experiences which can be delivered in the browser, on mobile devices using Cardboard or Daydream, or on desktop computers with VR hardware. View a demo video of EditVR below.