Design metaverse: Challenges and questions

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The opportunities in the metaverse are really bigwith entertainment, gaming, publishing and even fast food operations, and luxury brands are experimenting for an expected $800 billion market. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what could happen in Web3, as concerts in Fortnite and Roblox become more popular and consumers spend a lot of money to dress up their avatars in Gucci. While the possibilities we can do in the metaverse are endless, the way the metaverse is designed from a UX perspective needs to be the main focus to make the metaverse a place where everyone feels comfortable and accessible. .

Metaverse presents some unique challenges from a design, content, and UX standpoint that don’t exist anywhere else. Designers working in this nascent industry have the opportunity to create standards for how the metaverse is designed and accessed in the future. Here are some of the key design challenges of content creation and access in the metaverse.

User Experience Challenge

Metaverse presents the only challenge of needing to communicate using voice commands and physical gestures, including eye tracking. Our current experience using voice through Siri and Alexa is only a small part of what UX can and should be in the metaverse. Right now, we don’t have any everyday experience living in a VR world where you can interact with both gestures and voice. I predict the industry will need to standardize voice and hand gestures very soon; otherwise the usability of different experiences will be extremely difficult. For context, when we first started working with mobile phones and the early days of apps, gestures and hand movements were first introduced. Today in 2022 we all know how to ‘scroll to refresh’ and ‘pinch to zoom’ thanks to the standardization of mobile gestures, providing a common platform for all application and act as an anchor for the user. Without this standard in common, using each application would require users not only to learn its structure, but also how to interact with it.

Design in metaverse also has no limitations regarding the size environment such as screen size. This means designers will have no boundaries and can be creative in both 2D and 3D perspectives. Designers will need to hone their storyboarding skills to create experiences where users can move inside objects or change their surroundings. As an extension, storytelling will evolve as stories can become more complete and complex, leaving less space for imagination to fill. Users can explore the world, hearing voices, as if they were actually experiencing it firsthand. For example, a visitor in the metaverse who normally just reads an article or watches a video of their favorite athlete can now actually ‘be with’ them to experience a game or stay in the house. Their childhood is recreated in the metaverse. This brings a whole new way to experience stories.

Avatar design

The avatars themselves will need to be designed, and that brings up some design questions. How should they resemble humans or cartoons? Avatars that are too human are sometimes considered creepy and make us feel uncomfortable, as represented by the term “strange valley,” illustrates the relationship between human-like robotic objects and our emotional responses. Does the avatar represent our alter ego? Are they diverse enough and truly representative?

Facial expressions and hand gestures will also need to be considered. Much can be communicated by facial expressions, even if you don’t speak. Are there different expressions for when you are listening, thinking or dreaming?

Build trust in design

The entire meta world now belongs to the games and entertainment industry but will need to expand, led by design, if we are to extend the experience to others. But do we want to live in this world and spend hours every day conducting our business there? Designers will need to do more than just campaign to ensure that this new world is comfortable and safe. Dark UX patterns, by their very nature, are much more destructive and the cognitive load can be overwhelming.

As mentioned above, one of the design challenges will be transitioning to a world of unlimited size. Designers will need to determine whether the experience will appear in our reality as AR or the user will step into another world entirely in VR. The possibilities are endless. But designers must also be wary of dark textures that can appear, which could trick users into doing something they didn’t intend. As in the early days of Web2 with websites and ads crowded everywhere, it is possible that ads disguised among other dark paradigms could be my trap in the metaverse, working to break the bonds of trust between the background platform and users. Even if we can avoid dark patterns, the metaverse can still have elements that keep popping up, making it difficult to focus on an action.

Obviously, the real world won’t cease to exist once the metaverse is more pervasive. And the adoption will not be from 0 to 100, but gradually. Just like when we start creating experiences for mobile, we will need to ask ourselves – what is the value of the experience? How do we handle metaverse experiences? Is it a clone of the real world product or maybe an extension? Or is it something else entirely?

Michal Turjeman is VP Design at Minute Media.


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