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Friction Vs Value: The Key To Engaging Users In Immersive Experiences

Uncover the balance between the benefits and friction of immersive experiences across various tech and insights for effective project design

Ultimately, for a potential user of an immersive experience, the choice to engage in it or not boils down to one thing: Does the perceived benefit of the experience outweigh the friction of completing all the steps needed to complete it?

This general concept applies to almost everything humans do and is even more crucial when designing immersive experiences.

Friction can be present in many situations:

In Augmented Reality, users need to take out their smartphones, scan a QR code, download an app, wait for the experience to load, and quickly understand its mechanics. In the case of a geolocalised experience, they need to go somewhere if they are not already there. If a face or an image needs to be detected, the user’s environment must be well-lit and have enough space.

In Virtual Reality, users must have bought a headset and be willing to wear it for an extended time. They are hopefully not sensitive to motion sickness if the experience is poorly designed. Here, as well, the gameplay must be learned quickly, and all interfaces have a learning curve: even something as simple as a finger pinch requires a few tries and mistakes.

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What about Mixed Reality? Well, you can blend both. The Cherry on the cake is that the video passthrough is still imperfect, and the field of view is often limited in the case of transparent screens.

That’s a lot of friction to overcome! This is why putting a specific technology in a project just for the sake of this technology itself is doomed to fail.

There are many factors you can consider and implement to maximise the usage of such experiences. In the end, it boils down, obviously, to the value you’ll provide.

  • Content: Yes, content matters, especially when the goal of the experience itself is to enjoy good content. This includes art, culture, entertainment, or gaming.
  • Social incentive: As a result of the experience, the user gets a sharable image or video that fits their persona – generation, perceived status, brand preferences, etc.
  • Financial incentives: A coupon, loyalty points, an entry in a sweepstake, or a free item.
  • Solving a problem: Most likely, in an industrial context, if your solution improves a time-consuming or costly process, it’s very likely to stick. VR Training and AR assistance for complex tasks are the most common. It must be more efficient than the current solution.
  • Brand engagement: For existing clients. Besides client acquisition, customer retention and loyalty can be achieved through immersive experiences. You will provide value by designing a concept that will engage existing customers in a brand they like.
  • Learning: Adding an element of education or an essential piece of information lets the user get something out of the experience.
  • Innovation: This is the exception. If the technology by itself is brand new and promising, users will queue up to try it. Be careful; it doesn’t last.
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These are only the tip of the iceberg; each needs to be carefully thought about during the project design phase.

As a side note, sometimes, the experience is valuable even if nobody uses it, as it can serve as a showcase for the end client: innovation, brand advertisement, being a first player, etc.

Source: e27

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