Are UI designers ready for VR?

over 6 years ago from , Product Designer

Just wanted to know your thoughts on the future of UI design in relation with the possible VR boom that's coming in the next years. What tools do we have now for building VR interfaces, maybe 3DsMax, Maya? Aren't these to complex? Do we have 3D tools that are more UI focused, like Sketch is right now for 2D? Some browsers are already testing components for VR integration, but how do we as UI designers prepare for the shift from 2D to 3D.


  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, over 6 years ago

    Over in video game land, game designers have been building 3D UIs for years.

    It seems a bit weird to assume that UI designers will be in charge of VR when there's already tons of professionals out there that are a lot more qualified for the job?

    17 points
    • , over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Yes Sacha, I kinda agree with you. UI designers that are building today's web and mobile interfaces either need to adapt and learn building 3D interfaces, or their skills might become obsolete in the near future. There are tons of professionals in the game industry right now, but the demand for people with those skills will grow, which is a good thing.

      1 point
      • A B, over 6 years ago

        Can confirm. I'm a UI designer and can only see in two dimensions. 3D interfaces will be my downfall.

        3 points
    • Bruce Vang, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

      Game UI/UX doesn't = VR UI/X though. I've tried several apps on the Oculus Rift and the worst UIs are built like they were made for the Xbox.

      However, when the UI is built like a HUD or a part of world, the UX is much better.

      VR designers are still figuring out there what works and what doesn't. I wouldn't say there are a ton of professional VR designers yet. IMO, this VR era reminds me of when the iPhone first came out and people are just starting to discover what works for Mobile.

      1 point
    • Andrew McWattersAndrew McWatters, over 6 years ago

      This comment speaks not only more truthfully to the matter, but in its declaration alone, bespeaks the obliviousness of UI designers in regards to 3D worldspace UI design, which is more tightly associated with game development than it is traditional UI design.

      There are technical aspects of 3D development and design that most UI designers just do not have, nor have ever even been exposed to in the slightest, that game developers and 3D artists breathe on a daily basis.

      I highly disagree that UI designers skillsets will "become obsolete." These are simply two different worlds where skillsets can overlap; to say otherwise suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of one or both fields.

      0 points
      • , over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

        Hey Andrew, I agree, some skills will translate easily to VR/AR, in fact maybe UI/UX designers understand the user's needs and behaviour better than game designers do, as they were exposed to a wide variety of digital products. I was referring more in regards to the technical skills when I said obsolete. They will need to adapt to catch up their fellow game designers.

        0 points
      • Bart Claeys, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

        Traditional UI skills won't become obsolete, but the profession may see less demand (read: paid less). Maybe the 'golden years' for UI designers are counting?

        I've always told my team (in regards to salaries) "Enjoy this time while it lasts".

        0 points
        • Andrew McWattersAndrew McWatters, over 6 years ago

          With the need to at least keep up with inflation over the years in any industry, I think that wise advice always applies!

          0 points
  • Ian GoodeIan Goode, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    AR and VR are still way too nascent for such a tool to exist.

    Sketch is a great UI tool because we have a pretty established language for designing UI for flat screens. There may be different dialects for different screen sizes and screens that you can touch, but they're broadly pretty similar. We can have a great UI design tool because of this.

    For AR and VR? When you take away the small flat screen in front of you you're left with concepts like a horizon line, peripheral vision, focus, distance, perspective, distraction, movement, speed of movement—and when it comes to UI design these are pretty unfamiliar to us. We can't have a great UI design tool just yet because of this.

    Stuff like Microsoft's Hololens that projects Windows 10 apps onto a flat surface are a cool tech demo, but they totally miss the mark.

    So don't worry about finding the perfect tool just yet. We need to figure out the language first.

    But if you have an AR or VR device and you do want to start right now, then get Unity. It's free, it'll offer free built-in support for Oculus and more, it has a new UI builder, and it's not too hard to pick up and learn. They have great learning resources and the community are very helpful.

    [edit] I mean jesus, I still know plenty of people who say 'click' instead of 'tap' when talking about mobile apps. How are we gonna communicate AR and VR?

    "So you just look at the button really intently for a half second, that's a force look. You can look at it softly for a second, that's a normal look. Staring at it for a couple of seconds is a long look. If you look at it, look away, then look back at it quickly, that's a double look. To quit the app just sit down on the ground and rock back and forth gently."

    9 points
  • Robin RaszkaRobin Raszka, over 6 years ago

    90% of UI designers are just people who happen to know few tricks in Photoshop and transition to a tool like 3DSMax is almost impossible for them.

    5 points
  • Wesley MagnessWesley Magness, over 6 years ago

    I've been heavily thinking about this, especially after watching this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3b8hZ5NV2E

    I have been working in Unity since then but I haven't heard of anything in particular for VR design tools

    3 points
  • Pierre de MillyPierre de Milly, over 6 years ago

    I'm personally more interested in AR and its uses in tools and applications.

    I see VR as a very immersive and complete experience that could be used for work that requires absolute focus like design or code but a lot of jobs today can be and have to be multi-tasked (emails, reports, mappings, etc.) and include a lot of social interactions (meetings, briefings, etc.).

    To make it simple, VR is the future of adobe and AR the future of MS office, maybe?

    1 point
  • Mitch De CastroMitch De Castro, over 6 years ago

    What about kiosks and other public interfaces? I know VR will be coming soon but, I can't really see ATMs or ticket machines going away so quickly and they could do with some improvements. Or will all of those simply be replaced with interaction via devices?

    0 points