Does augmented reality increase the UX?
Discussing how Augmented reality (AR) affects the UX
Augmented reality (AR) is an experience where designers enhance parts of the user's physical world with computer-generated input. Designers create inputs ranging from sound to video, to graphics to GPS overlays, and more in digital content that responds in real-time to changes in the user’s environment, typically movement.
A couple of years ago when shopping for a rug for the living room, users struggled to envision how each might look in their room. How large do they really want it to be? How would the colors and patterns coordinate with their current decor?
How can they still get a good enough sense of that item to feel confident purchasing it online? Augmented reality (AR) tools, which allow users to either “try on” or view an item in their room by superimposing a digital image of an item over the front- or rear-facing camera view, have the potential to be a game-changing shopping feature as they allow users to preview that item in its prospective environment.
How AR helps in these COVID times?
COVID-19 has changed user behaviors, and so using augmented reality to preview an item in its eventual environment is increasingly useful due to COVID-19 restrictions and a general unease around shopping in person and touching shared surfaces.
The Nielsen Norman Group conducted a remote moderated study with 10 participants to understand how people interact with AR. Below I am going to write down the insights from their research insights
Several participants commented about the increased reliance on online shopping. They thought that AR tools seemed particularly useful for bridging the gap of not seeing an item in real life before making a purchase decision. This is especially true for products that most people want to touch or try on before purchase - actions that, even when venturing out into a business in person, still aren’t really possible. For example, most beauty stores no longer set out makeup samples to test, nor would someone feel comfortable putting on a lipstick that a lot of people may have touched. (Not to mention, how could you do that with your mask on?)
After one participant tried on makeup using Ulta’s mobile-app AR feature, she commented, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to any place to get anything … I can see how, especially now — you know, that it’s hard to get out as much with Covid and everything — that this is really a nice feature.” She later added, “I like this. Because then you could feel more comfortable ordering it online too, as opposed to … having … to see the color in person.”
Augmented-reality features are most helpful for items where aesthetics or other physical traits, such as size, are primary factors driving the purchase decision. Home décor and furniture are top candidates to get the AR treatment, as people want to ensure that these items would fit in their space and match their overall style. The ability to preview the item in AR takes away some of the uncertainty of shopping online, and several participants commented that they felt more confident that they would not have to go through the hassle of returning their purchase. For example, one participant looking for a desk lamp on the Target mobile app stated, “It’s really helpful because I get an idea of what it does look like in the space that I wanted it to go, versus getting it home and it might not look right.”
Augmented reality has the potential to be better than reality, as it allows users to preview items faster and more easily than in real life. For instance, it is much quicker to swipe through multiple makeup looks than to repeatedly wash your face to test the next color. Likewise, AR gives consumers the ability to preview furniture in its final location rather seeing it in a store and having to rely on measurements and imagination.
However, this technology still has a long way to go both in terms of usability and usefulness. Making these tools less clunky and showing accurate sizing would greatly improve their helpfulness.
That’s for all now, folks. Thanks for reading.