With the popularization of the concepts of virtual and augmented reality, immersive design has become one of the main trends in graphic design. Below we will talk about what it is, how to build it, and also consider its main advantages and disadvantages.
Immersive Design: Definition
The concept of "immersive design" appeared in 2007. It was formulated by British designer Alex McDowell.
Essentially, immersive design is a direction in graphic design that is based on the end user's overall interaction with the product (not just through a touchscreen or keyboard). That is, in immersive design, the interface doesn’t end on the screen of the device but goes beyond it, which involves the use of fundamentally new control tools that could reproduce the very effect of complete immersion. This is voice control, as well as augmented and virtual reality.
At the same time, the immersive design doesn’t interrupt the process of interaction with the screen and the process of interaction outside of it. Thus, a seamless user experience is provided.
That’s why, from the point of view of a web designer, this type of design implies designing additional, previously unused ways to interact with the interface, for example, through motion graphics elements. It’s also very common for web designers to combine immersive design with gamification, developing special engagement elements that motivate end users to complete a targeted action.
Several Reasons for Immersive Design Popularity
We believe that the COVID-19 pandemic gave a rapid impetus to the popularization of immersive design when most of the previously offline services moved to the digital plane. However, there are other reasons for this phenomenon as well.
In particular, ideas about what design could be have expanded significantly. Being a hallmark of a product, every year design requires more and more creative approaches to its implementation from its creators. That's why digital brands have started looking for new ideas to surprise their target audience.
And finally, some services without immersive design could not be implemented at all. In turn, artificial intelligence technologies and virtual and augmented reality have opened up new, wider opportunities for their transfer to the online world.
What Are the Main Principles of Immersive Design?
Now, it's time to clarify everything we talked about earlier and highlight the basic principles of immersive design.
- Usefulness for the end user. At first glance, immersive design is a rather attractive concept. However, in practice, its implementation may be meaningless due to the lack of practical benefits for the target audience (compared to traditional, two-dimensional design). For example, an ordinary calculator is understandable and useful for the target audience in its standard, “flat” form. So why reinvent the wheel?
- Brand awareness. When developing the immersive design for a particular brand, you must understand its values and know its history to embody the most significant aspects of your project. As a result, this will help you create an experience that is not only personalized for the end user but also creates a unique, recognizable brand experience.
- Improvement of user experience. Your primary concern with the immersive design is to improve the user experience (rather than complicate it, which is likely due to the innovative technologies it implies). This means that you will have to develop controls that are already familiar to your target audience from their previous experience with other solutions.
- Creating a non-linear story for users. Obviously, in comparison with two-dimensional interfaces, interaction with which goes beyond the screen of the user device involves a greater number of behavioral patterns of end users. Try to avoid linear storytelling and think through multiple scenarios, giving your target audience a sense of greater control and even deeper immersion in the process of interacting with the interface.
- Engaging all the senses of the target audience. Try to use the senses that were not available in the case of two-dimensional interfaces. In particular, you can try to complement the visual effects with the synchronization of sound and movement. Moreover, some products with immersive design are designed to enhance the possibilities for real-time multi-user interaction. Think about how you can make this happen by using more of the TA's senses.
- Personalization of user experience. Personalization is a must for any type of design. In particular, you should not forget about it in the case of immersive design. Think about how you can predict future user behavior and adapt controls to the physiological parameters of the body of a particular user.
Pros and Cons of Immersive Design
Now let's discuss the advantages and disadvantages of immersive design.
Let's start with the benefits:
- wide scope of use: as we noted earlier, the immersive design opens up new opportunities for the digitalization of services and products that could not be presented to end users through traditional two-dimensional interfaces;
- involvement of more senses: user experience with immersive design becomes more saturated, which opens up new opportunities for sales and engagement of the target audience;
- lower entry threshold for end users: immersive design allows designers to more effectively mimic objects from the real world, making interface elements easier to use.
As for the shortcomings, we can highlight the following ones:
- high cost of implementation: often the technologies used to develop immersive design are more expensive to implement;
- experimentality: so far, immersive design is an experimental concept, which means that it doesn’t make sense to replace all traditional solutions with it today.
What Is the Future of Traditional Design?
While the immersive design is based on some of the practices of game design, consumer response indicates that this type of design is going to be a huge success. Thus, due to the widespread popularity of VR and AR technologies in graphic design, as well as artificial intelligence solutions that provide recognition of human gestures and speech, the work of web designers become increasingly complex.
That’s why professionals who want to master this trend will have to expand their experience with skills in motion design engines, knowledge of the specifics of user interaction with 3D interfaces, skills in working with platforms that support VR/AR devices, as well as skills in creating 3D video.
Note that in addition to having to master motion design and tools for implementation of the above technologies, the designer can no longer work only being limited to the screen of the user device (moreover, in a particular project with immersive design, the screen may not be needed at all), and choose the most suitable one from the usual list of approaches and patterns.
On the other hand, there is no reason to say that two-dimensional interfaces will soon disappear from everyday life. Therefore, all of the above skills may not be useful to you if you wish to build your career as a traditional graphic designer in the future.
As you can see, immersive design is likely to grow in popularity in the coming years. This doesn’t mean that there will be no adherents of classical design left in the world. However, mastering the techniques of immersive design will help you significantly improve your portfolio and expand your list of clients. So, whether the game is worth the candle, the choice is only yours.