Meta’s company vision is to bring the metaverse to life. A crucial part of that vision is developing new products for emerging platforms like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). While designing for these technologies may seem like a whole new realm, the design process is essentially the same as it is for any other experience like websites, apps or games. We begin by understanding the people who use our products, developing solutions and prototyping to test them out with people. After all, whether we’re designing for mobile apps or the metaverse, people’s fundamental needs are the same—they need to understand what they’re using, accomplish their goals and have choices along the way.
Where 3D design diverges from our familiar process is the need to consider how people will interact with spatial experiences in AR and VR. Meta’s design teams have best practices and processes for prototyping 2D designs, but AR and VR don’t yet have established heuristics or interaction patterns, and tools for prototyping in 3D are still nascent. It can take time to become proficient with 3D programs like Unity and Blender, and there is more work to be done than there are designers with spatial design experience. That’s why Meta has invested in developing tools, training and processes to help designers quickly learn 3D prototyping, so they can see what their work looks like in the medium they’re designing for.
3D prototyping also allows designers to iterate and get feedback on their visions earlier in the process, which is especially crucial for VR and other emerging platforms. More often than not, a designer’s real job isn’t just creating things—it’s ensuring stakeholders are on board with the vision that’s presented. Putting a 3D prototype in the hands of stakeholders can be an effective lever to gain alignment and resolve disagreements because a demonstration conveys much more than a static mockup or a document. As Jon Lax, VP of Product Design for Reality Labs, often says, “Demos win arguments.” By investing in a curriculum that allows designers to quickly build and test in 3D, they’re not only learning new skills—they’re empowered to lead in a meaningful and impactful way.