What web designers should learn before going into VR

22 February 2016

To design the next internet, which is most likely based upon virtual reality and three-dimensional space, web designers will have to start examining the real world. Could we learn something from interior designers?

After the skeuomorphic design trend, whereby virtual properties had to look like real-world objects, came the flat and clean design trend, which was driven by simplicity and focus on functionality. As people look for more peace of mind in a cluttered world, interiors stand out by their simplicity and focus on necessity. The same trend can be seen online, whereby websites and apps increasingly focus on key interactions.

Material design: Best of both worlds

Google’s material design language is centred around the best of both worlds; it’s flat and focuses on interaction, yet behaves naturally in a way that is consistent with physics. Very much like in modern interior design, white and grey tones are used for large surfaces, whereas colour is only being used to make items stand out.

Different challenges

Where design for the screen is challenged by the limitations of a flat surface, interior design is challenged by the implications of three dimensions. The properties of the physical world are instantly relevant when creating new virtual environments, but may be even more critical when designing augmented reality (virtual layers on top of the real world).

Preparing for transition

As large tech firms are gearing up to bring virtual reality (VR) to the masses, web designers need to prepare for the transition from flat to three-dimensional. Being released from the limitations of a flat surface obviously comes with opportunities. The biggest challenge may just be to use these new opportunities wisely. To avoid littering and cluttering the new three-dimensional world that VR brings, designers may as well learn from interior designers, clean-up gurus and architects.

Getting away from the screen

To make virtual reality a success, the designers of this world need to understand real reality. They have to understand how materials interact, what light and darkness can do to a space and how depth impacts people’s perception of a space. As counter-intuitive it may sound; to make the transformation to designing the virtual reality ahead of us, web designers have to get away from their screen.

At Scrn, we are increasingly seeking our inspiration for online work in the real world, in order to be prepared to start creating a new, more real yet virtual internet. Maybe we should consider to hire an interior designer?

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