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How Usability Testing Enables Immersive Metaverse Experiences
When Web 2.0 started to become a reality, the obvious difference between this and the original internet was plain to see; the addition of a good deal of interactivity. Suddenly, the internet wasn’t just about reading static information on a screen, and allowed a great deal of interaction with web pages and other users. Four key differences between the two standards were:
- Web 1.0 consisted of standard data that could only be read on the Internet, but Web 2.0 improved upon this concept by including data that could be written on the Internet. Web 1.0 was replaced by Web 2.0.
- Web 1.0 had pages and lists, much as a book would for its reader, and the information was given in a linear format. In contrast, Web 2.0 featured content that was organised in a non-linear fashion.
- Slashdot and Craigslist were examples of sites that were part of Web 1.0, while Web 2.0 sites were the ones that gave rise to sites like Twitter and Facebook.
- Application Program Interfaces (APIs) for self-use, such as software programmes, were developed expressly as part of Web 2.0. Web 1.0 made use of server side includes (SSI) or the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) to build pages, whereas Web 2.0 has focused on developing APIs for self-use.
And now we are at the advent of the Metaverse, and things are looking like they are going to get shaken up even more. The major difference with the Metaverse over Web 2.0 is its interactivity and high-quality experiences that will introduce seemingly real-life interactions rather than limited experiences, but the extent to which this happens is still subject to a great deal of uncertainty. Experiences in the Metaverse that are perceived as being empty, artificial, overwhelming, laborious, or uninteresting are not likely to be successful in capturing a client to a greater degree than the same characteristics in the modern internet.
To prevent this, and help ensure that the Metaverse doesn’t become a niche thing for the likes of gamers and social media users, many users and developers are engaged in a great deal of usability testing, with the goal of evolving an experience for everyone. To do this, developers perceive that this usability will stem from a number of different areas, such as:
- Make it multi-experienced. Much of the current Metaverse experience is delivered via VR headsets, but while these are initially an exciting aside, it’s essential that they are not the only way that Metaverse content can be accessed. The current crop of VR headsets are a bit weighty, front-end intrusive, and you really have to shop around to get an aftermarket head strap that is comfortable for the battery life of the device. Meta and other manufacturers are already working on new devices that are likely to be smaller, more lightweight and designed for longer-term usage, it’s important to not limit the Metaverse to these devices alone.
- Make it iterative. Because the Metaverse is so different from the Internet of today, many commentators see it as important that it doesn’t become too different too quickly, and end up alienating people. The release of new software and hardware will continue at a breakneck speed. Look no farther than the developer notes that firms like Meta offer on their websites. These notes share specifics of the most recent builds, which illustrate how a product has progressed over time. These fresh builds frequently incorporate comments from users regarding newly added features and releases. This feedback may have been acquired through usability testing or problem reports. In a similar vein, the capabilities of both graphics and performance will continue to advance. Integrations with a variety of mobile platforms and applications are also expected to grow. But it is absolutely necessary for product developers to pace the debut of their products and not attempt to deliver too much all at once. The next major leap in technology is expected to be in Quantum Computing, and that really will make a difference.
- Don’t limit testing to obvious social demographics. The Metaverse should be for the many, not the few, and it is essential that it is developed in just that way. Many people will want to use the Metaverse for gaming and virtual interactions such as social networks and attending virtual events, but it is likely that just as many will want to use it for everyday interactions such as banking, shopping, and the stuff that they do now. The Metaverse needs to be geared to making all of this easy and as interactive as people want. Go too far one way, and alienate what could be a significant section of potential users, and since many see the Metaverse as a way of monetarising the internet – mostly via virtual land, property, and widget sales – reducing the overall userbase would be financial suicide. So, in order to reach out to the maximum number of users in the future, the developers of today need to test what they have and where they intend to go with it. Now is the ideal opportunity to shape the future.
It’s all about usability testing and developing a future that appeals to the many rather than the gaming or social media crew alone, and usability testing across a good array of potential users is the best way to do this.
Luckily, a growing number of Metaverse developers recognise this issue and are adapting their test programs to suit. We at Unity Developers are keeping a keen eye on what they are doing and hope to report back with positive news very soon.