What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) is essentially an experience wherein web designers extend and enhance the user’s physical world by computer-generated perceptual information. It is one of the biggest technology trends in 2020 as smartphones and other virtual devices are becoming more accessible. This technology helps us see our physical surroundings such as trees swaying with the wind, rainfall and so on with an additional layer of digital augmentation.
What makes AR different from Virtual Reality (VR) is that it does not create a comprehensive virtual environment to replace the real one. Instead, it presents a view of the real world with layers of digital information such as sounds, videos and graphics.
Role of Augmented Reality in Web Design:
Augmented Reality is not futuristic anymore, it is here and here to stay. While Virtual Reality (VR) may require users to buy high quality VR headsets, Augmented reality is much more feasible for web developers and designers. All users need is a device with a camera. Snapchat filters and the try-on options on e-commerce websites all fall under the broad umbrella of Augmented Reality (AR).
AR has been instrumental in helping web designers optimize the User Experience (UX) on both mobile and desktop. Providing users an AR experience ensures customer retention and loyalty. It helps build a meaningful relationship between users and their applications/brands.
Here are 6 ways in which AR is transforming UX design:
- Lowers cost of interaction: One of the best features of AR technologies is that it reduces the interaction cost. The sum of physical and mental efforts made by the users can be considered as the interaction cost.
AR lowers this cost of interaction by reducing the steps needed for the execution of a task. The user automatically receives information and can navigate through the web application using voice commands or tapping on visual buttons. The AR interface makes interactions much easier and efficient for the user.
- Lowers Cognitive burden: Cognitive burden essentially means how much information a user needs to process before utilizing the product. AR lowers its users’ cognitive burden by merely performing tasks for them. AR autonomously identifies, interprets and provides information to them.
Users do not need to learn commands and can easily move information from one context to another. The AR system displays the critical information and does not require the users to remember what they need to do for using the application.
- Provides an Immersive Experience: Users need something interesting and are always looking for something different, this is why providing an immersive experience through the AR technology is vital.
A popular example for creating an immersive experience for users using AR is the application Pokemon Go, which made users take walks and find Pokemon digitally overlaid in various physical locations.
Another great example is Ikea’s AR app, which allows users to place their products virtually in their homes. This helped users try-out the products and get an idea of how it will look before buying.
- Real-Time Feedback: UX designing is a continuous process and needs to evolve in accordance with the feedback given by the users. With AR technology, web designers will be able to receive feedback from the customers and make improvements much faster.
Web designers can benefit from this real time feedback and can create more responsive web applications which resonate with users. They can stay relevant and keep users interested in their application with an AR equipped UX design.
- Drives conversions: In conventional applications there are not many elements which engage the user and make their purchase journey easy and enjoyable. AR equipped applications add a fun factor, become a brand differentiator and drive profits.
Creating familiarity by adding voice, hands and gesture controls to interact with the various elements of your application, will heighten your user’s expectations and helps you build customer loyalty. The more you blur the lines between reality and the augmented world the higher your conversion rate.
- Reduces Attention Switching: It is really difficult to focus when users have to open several tabs to retrieve information while carrying out their tasks on your application. They need to keep switching tabs back and forth, which is not only time consuming but also frustrating.
An AR equipped UX design will help users avoid this lengthy process as it will enable web designers to combine information from different sources in the visual field.
Augmented reality is transforming the way people interact and has been adopted by various applications such as e-commerce, social media applications, gaming applications, GPS trackers and so on. Augmented Reality is a dynamic technology that enhances User Experience, allows web designers to receive real-time feedback, improves conversions significantly, reduces the cognitive load and attention switches. One of the most important principles of UX design is intuitiveness and AR facilitates that ultimately.
Sameer Mehta is a blogger and entrepreneur and writes on technology and lifestyle related topics. He has more than 15 years of experience across technology, consulting and marketing. He has written for Entrepreneur, West Agile Labs, Exegy Consulting, Jewellerista, etc.