“Tips for successful AR design” might seem an easy enough phrase to type into Google – but in truth it can be difficult to come up with any hard-and-fast rules for the increasing number of businesses looking for help in this area.
Why? Because AR is a many-headed beast. AR stands for ‘augmented reality’, and we’re all familiar with it even if the technology at first sounds to our ears like something out of Blade Runner 2049. If you’ve ever used a Snapchat filter, added a mask to your fizzgog on Facebook, or played Pokémon Go then you’ve experienced AR.
Augmented reality is simply the layering, through digital technology, of an element of unreality across the “real” environment. Smartphones have hugely increased the available audience for AR, since they are portable computers equipped with camera – simply point them at a point in space, and let the phone map whatever it wishes onto the picture.
Businesses have several reasons to be searching that “tips for successful AR design” phrase: AR enables them to place their product or service within the user’s own environment. IKEA, for example, can now enable users to place its products in their home before buying them – merely by pointing a camera at the appropriate corner of the room. This brings ‘try before you buy’ to a whole new level.
Of course, the possible application of AR to a business app is as varied as your imagination might allow: perhaps you could build an app that changes your users’ clothes to include your logo, or help them find your nearest store by pointing at their local street.
This is a potentially boundless market – and the success of AR apps such as Wikitude or Yelp Monocle demonstrate the enthusiasm for them. So what are those tips for successful AR design? Well, keeping them as broad as possible, how about:
Don’t do AR “just because”. If you’re just jumping on a bandwagon, your users will sniff you out. There has to be a real benefit to using your app – it’s not enough just to be there. If you have a real reason to utilise AR, go for it. If not, what else can you be doing instead?
Consider the environment. Lots of apps have got into trouble for inspiring jaywalking or dangerous driving. Likewise, when all those Pokemon turned up in churchyards or at the Holocaust Museum, the designers came away more than a little red-faced. Think carefully about what you’re asking your users to do – and where they’ll be doing it!
Keep interaction simple. This is true of many apps, but most of all for AR. Augmented Reality can be overwhelming enough, so don’t ask too much button-mashing of your users … keep things very, very straightforward if you want to keep them interested.
So there you have it. AR is here to stay and worth exploiting … if you do it right. Those are our best tips for successful AR design!
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