Designing Metaverse Experiences: UX in the Metaverse
The intense focus on experiences in the Metaverse will require a completely new approach to UX design. The current UX design process is focused on 2D experiences where linear paths can be identified and worked on. The 3D nature of the Metaverse means that there will need to be at least a partial disruption to current UX processes. In the Metaverse, there will be no happy or unhappy path. Each user will have a different subjective experience and they might explore and be interested in exploring different parts and elements of your experiences. This is why it is crucial that each pixel of your spaces is polished and thought about because you never know where an individual’s user’s interest may be. In a phone app, for example, a user is not expected to just wander off and explore what pages look like, whereas in a 3D experience, a user might admire a fountain or wall paintings you have put in as decoration.
Community rules and behavior might need monitoring as well. In an age of increased sensitivity to “toxic” behavior, community management and moderation will become important aspects to consider when designing an experience. It is still not fully clear which responsibilities regarding community moderation will fall into the domain of the metaverse providers and which will be managed by the owners of the space. In any case, it is expected that your brand as the owner of the space will be responsible for enforcing your own community guidelines at least in some capacity. Here the decision of what type of behavior is tolerated will be an important one.
On the other side of that, brands will need to consider how to reward behavior that is beneficial to the brand. For example, imagine you design an experience where you organize a branded basketball shootout in the Metaverse. Since you will want people to spend as much time practicing and getting a high score, you will need to think of a strategy to make that high score mean something. At Takeaway Reality, we usually recommended giving out unique digital items to winners. The winners could then be incentivized through the digital economy because these items might be re-sold and might even appreciate in value with time.
For example, imagine you are a toothpaste brand. You could create an Instagram AR filter that whitens users teeth and makes them sparkle. In order to create virality around your campaign, you can incentivize users to post the images on social media and tag your brand. Each user that does so could receive a limited edition NFT of a particular smile they can use on their avatar within the metaverse. They could then own it, wear it in the metaverse and even re-sell it at some point on the secondary market.
Today, people might use the same app for different reasons, the most obvious example would be people using Spotify. Some might use the streaming platform to listen to music, while others might use it to listen to podcasts. In the Metaverse, many more people will use your spaces for other purposes than intended. If you want to experience this first-hand. Just go into proto-metaverse platforms such as AltspaceVR or VRchat and you will quickly find spaces that were intended as “newsrooms” that are now used just to hang out or NFT galleries where people just come to play basketball because there is a basketball hoop there.
Considering all of these new design variables, the field of UX design in the Metaverse is expected to evolve and grow as there are more experiences and more designers start designing for the Metaverse. As with any early entrants of a brand new market, the key elements are testing and iteration. Strategies on how you will test and refine your space will need to be a key consideration when planning to launch a Metaverse experience. In practice, we always recommend using agile methodologies such as SCRUM or Kanban when launching these experiences. These ensure that iteration and testing are incorporated directly into the development of your space.