The UX of Virtual Reality for Business

After years of buzz, virtual reality (VR) had a watershed moment in 2016 as Deloitte predicted that the industry would have its first billion dollar year. About 70 percent of revenue is being derived from VR hardware sales, with the remainder coming primarily from the sale of compatible video games.

Following in the footsteps of mobile application growth, the consumer market has been the earliest adopter of VR. But as the technology is perfected there is a distinct opportunity for businesses to take advantage as well.

Any business that begins to integrate virtual reality technology today has a chance to cast itself apart as more forward thinking than their competitors. However, that may not be the case for long as VR is likely to be commonplace by 2020.

Between 2016 and 2020, the VR market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 183.8 percent. With the likely influx of VR into the business world in the coming years, getting a leg up on the competition requires fast action.

But while adoption in the business world has lagged behind the consumer market, that doesn’t mean there isn’t already a place for virtual reality.

Deloitte noted in its report that VR mobile applications—which are anticipated to range from free up to a high of $10 per download—provide an immediate opportunity for marketing departments looking to offer potential clients a better look at their products or services.

On the other end, VR can be deployed for internal facing applications as well.

For example, product designers could potentially use VR to gain stakeholder support for the manufacture of a new project. Multiple groups could share a virtual space to collaborate on interdepartmental assignments.

For instance, an architect and contractor could collaborate on a home renovation, tearing down virtual walls as many times as they wanted until the design was perfected.

But implementing VR in a business setting faces its own set of challenges. Just like previous generations had to play catch up to learn how to properly navigate the Internet and smartphones, today’s employees will have to reorient all over again.

VR, however, may be a more revolutionary technological shift than other technologies. To ensure functionality and high adoption, business leaders seeking to take advantage of VR must ensure that the user experience design is given top priority as applications are developed.

What elements of VR applications would benefit the most from a quality user experience?

Mitigate VR disorientation

Before a user even begins to navigate through a virtual experience, they may be overcome with physical symptoms of disorientation while trying to adjust to the environment. Studies have shown that adding a nose to the middle of the screen can help users adjust to their setting, reducing symptoms by 13.5 percent. Making users physically comfortable enough to use the application is critical.

Integrate navigation cues

In addition to giving your users a place start (the nose), a navigation bar will help them find what they’re looking for and move easily between features. In a virtual setting, there must be a balance of navigational cues that aren’t too hidden without compromising the setting. This can be accomplished with instructional guides or by dispersing micro-interactions throughout the application.

Keep the action in front of you

Even though virtual reality is supposed to create a 360-degree experience, the application will work best if the most important content is squarely in front of the user. If the individual has to constantly turn their head from side to side or up and down, the user may experience physical discomfort that distracts from the content they’re supposed to be consuming.

Business leaders are in the unique position of having a revolutionary technology to incorporate into their business strategy. Are you ready to take advantage of it?