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Hello and welcome to this website builder Web Designer West Medford video tutorial.

I’m Owen Corso from Google.

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And today, we’re going to build a rich media expandable creative with video.

Let’s start by selecting file, New File.

This opens a dialog box where we will set up our ad.

First, let’s make out high of project.

We have four options– The default is Display & Video 360so we will leave that as is.

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Dynamic Exits in Studio - Google Web Designer

Ant (GitHub) is much more than a React UI kit with a minimalist design aesthetic and every component under the sun. It is a rabbit’s hole that leads to a giant maze of interconnected libraries, with a serious ecosystem surrounding it. There’s a custom build tool based on Webpack called ant-tool, several CLI apps, community scaffolds, and a complete framework (dva, which has its own CLI as well). And the UI components are mini-projects in and of themselves — see this repo for information on each component.

Many of these libraries appear to be very polished, including an entire React animation library. And I’d love to learn more about them, but Ant comes with a challenge — the majority of the documentation is in Chinese.

How’s Your Chinese?

Let me preface this by pointing out that the components library and its terrific style guide have been translated into English by generous volunteers, so the UI kit is completely usable. And the translation effort demonstrates the project’s intentions to open up Ant to a wider audience, boding well for companies considering adopting it.

However, there are some language issues that remain. The English is sometimes confusing or obscure. The maintainer of the library has commented here that they welcome PRs for improving the documentation, so that could be a great way to get involved in this amazing project.

Good luck hunting down issues!

Another issue is that issues in Ant.Design are mostly filed and debated on GitHub in Chinese. This could be a deal breaker for enterprise applications, but I’m not sure it should be one for early startups since Ant can be used quite minimally, without making use of smarter features like built-in form validation. Still, if you find an issue or bug with the library, it will be difficult to research previous solutions to your issue, and that’s why I recommend making minimal use of the surrounding ecosystem at this stage.

Battle Tested

Popular UI libraries for React include Material-UI, Semantic-UI, Foundation, and Bootstrap (this and this), and they are all fairly mature. Material-UI should be singled out as it massively eclipses the others in popularity, with over 22k stargazers — and over 600 open issues. But it turns out that Ant.Design is a surprisingly worthy candidate as well. It’s battle tested by some of the most well-trodden sites on the web (Alibaba, Baidu), and it boasts a brilliant style guide, custom tooling, and, of course, a comprehensive catalogue of components. It also has only 85 open issues at the time of writing, which is a good thing considering its popularity.

So let’s take a tour of the library, see what it has to offer, and how to get started using it.

Ant Components

The Ant components list is dizzying. Sure, it contains the basics — modals, forms (inline and vertical), navigation menus, a grid system. But it also contains a ton of extras, such as a @mentioning system, a timeline, badges, a seriously nice table system, and other small fancy features, such as an involved address box (see the Habitual Residence field). Have a look — it has everything that a modern web application should, with a tasteful, minimalist aesthetic.

Design Principles

There’s a nice, concise section in the documentation on the guiding principles of Ant.Design. I found it a great read as it got me thinking a lot about UI/UX considerations, especially the “Provide an Invitation” section, where they discuss different ways of making interactions discoverable by a user. By the way, if anyone can recommend me a good book on UX, I would be grateful.

Grid System

The Ant layout system is comprised of a 24-aliquot (a great new word that I learned from the translated documentation — it means parts of a whole) grid and a separate Layout component than you can choose to use. The grid uses the familiar Row/Col system, but you can also specify a prop called flex which allows you to harness Flexbox properties to define a responsive UI. (See a previous blog post of mine for help grokking the Flex standard.)

Flexbox is now fully supported on just about every browser (with partial support on IE 11 as well as some older mobile browsers), so it should be fine to use. If your customer base is largely Internet Explorer users, which does happen in some industries or countries, you would be wise to abstain from using flex Rows or the Layout component, as Layout is built strictly on Flexbox.

Layout includes components for a Sider, Header, Content, and Footer. Again, these are strictly based on Flexbox, so there’s no choice here — but to be honest I’m not sure what these components give you on top of using the standard Row/Col grid system, aside from a couple extra props you can make use of and possibly some built-in design choices. All in all, it doesn’t seem to me to be hugely useful.

Grid Props

Col elements can be supplied with a span prop to define how many aliquots a column takes up and an offset prop to define an optional offset; Row can take a gutter prop to define space between columns in a row (in pixels, not aliquots).

Here’s a UI example from a side project of mine. It contains one row with two columns:

The code would look something like this:

Forms

Ant does not let you down as far as forms are concerned, with options for inline, horizontal, and vertical forms, amazing select boxes, and clear validation messages and icons. In fact, it goes a little overboard here. It allows you to wrap your entire form-rendering component in a higher-order component à la Form.create()(<Component />) to gain access to a built-in validator syntax and custom two-way-binding system (cue audible lip biting). You can then specify standard rules such as ‘required’, or supply custom validator methods. (What are Higher Order Components? Check out this excellent post by James K. Nelson.)

Do you need to use their HOC? Absolutely not, and I’m not sure you should. As I said above, going down that path could expose you to language risk should you encounter bugs and I don’t see why you would want to use a custom two-way binding data system anyway. But you could easily use the HOC and just not use the two-way data binding.

Au Naturel — Plain React Forms

So let’s go over how to use the Ant validation messages without using their higher-order component.

Ant gives us three props that we can supply to each Form.Item component to display validation messages or icons:

  1. validateStatus — This determines the colour & icon scheme of the validation message (see photo above) — valid options are success, warning, error, and validating.
  2. help — The validation message to display.
  3. hasFeedback — This is one of them props that don’t require a value. Just include if you want to display the associated icon, and it defaults to true.
Prettiest validations that I’ve ever seen.

Here’s an example of a simple form element that displays a validation message:

Notice that I used the long-form Form.Item component name. You can make yourself a shortcut for this and any other Ant sub-components as follows:

const FormItem = Form.Item;// .. allows you to use:
<FormItem />

Form Validation using the Ant Higher-Order Component

Now what if we do want to make use of the Ant Form decorator? It’s fairly straightforward to implement. Create your React component class, and then pass it as an argument to Form.create(). The component can then be exported:

class SomeComponent extends React.Component
render() <place_form_here.. />
FancyFormComponent = Form.create()(SomeComponent);export FancyFormComponent as default ; // imported as SomeComponent

Inside your form, decorate your Input fields using the getFieldDecorater method, which exposes a ton of extra props on your component. You can now manipulate form elements directly from the props (eek!).

This example in the documentation gives a thorough demonstration on using the complete higher-order component.

Interactive Components — Message (Alert)

Ant provides a number of other components that give web applications a high degree of interactivity. A great example is alerts — or messages, as they’re called in Ant. Adding an alert is as simple as calling message.success('Great! Item has been saved.') in your component. Message types include success, warning, or error. Just don’t forget to import message (lowercase) from ‘antd’.

Minimalism at its Best

Installing Ant.Design

As I mentioned above, you can either go all-in on the Ant ecosystem (with its custom Webpack adapter), or just opt for the design framework. I went with the latter and I suspect you might too, not the least because using other parts of the ecosystem could require a working knowledge of Chinese. But I’ll cover both options.

Option 1 — Use the CLI

Ant comes with antd-init, a CLI for generating a complete React application with Ant installed. I do not recommend this route for non-Chinese speakers, but if you want to try it, getting started is easy. Just install the CLI using npm, create a new folder, and run antd-init:

npm install antd-init -g; mkdir demo-app; cd $_; antd-init;

You will then be greeted by the following message:

antd-init@2 is only for experience antd. If you want to create projects, it’s better to init with dva-cli. dva is a redux and react based application framework. elm concept, support side effects, hmr, dynamic load and so on.`

It’s a rabbit’s hole. Open your new application and you will see that your familiar webpack.config.js file is no longer familiar — the CLI uses ant-tool, a “Build Tool Based on Webpack” that I mentioned above. The documentation is in Chinese, but it appears to set common defaults for Webpack and then allow you to just supply values that you want to override. Here’s what the config file looks like:

// Learn more on how to config.
// — https://github.com/ant-tool/atool-build#配置扩展module.exports = function(webpackConfig)
webpackConfig.babel.plugins.push(‘transform-runtime’);
webpackConfig.babel.plugins.push([‘import’,
libraryName: ‘antd’,
style: ‘css’,
]); return webpackConfig;
;

The index.js contains a lovely demo page that uses the understated Ant styling.

Option 2 — Use Standard Webpack

This would be my preferred route, but it can be more complicated getting your Webpack settings right at first. The Getting Started page includes some good instructions. First install Ant in your React app:

$ npm install antd --save

Ant recommends using their own babel-plugin-import in your .babelrc:

"presets": [
"react",
...
],
"plugins": ["transform-decorators-legacy", ..., ["import", [ libraryName: "antd", style: "css" ]]
]
}

Make sure your Webpack includes loaders for .js and .css files, and you should be good to go. To use an Ant component, import it in the module file. E.g.

import Row, Col, Icon, Button from 'antd';

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that Ant has a lot to offer as a UI framework, with a formidable catalogue of components and a serious ecosystem around it. It does, however, come with some risk. If you experience an issue with the library, you may be stuck communicating in Chinese. Ultimately I recommend trying it out if you like the minimalist aesthetic, while keeping usage of the peripheral Ant ecosystem to a minimum.

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Next, we can select the type of ad.

We want to make an expandable, so we select Expandable on the left.

Next, we can set again ad’s dimensions.

We are building a 320 by 50that expands to 480 by 250.

So I will make those changes.

We then assign the West Medford creative a name.

I will leave my Save ToLocation as the default, and leave the talk about set to Quick.

Once I’m happy with my settings, I click OK.

Google Web Designer creates the initial pages of the ad for me with the dimensions I defined.

 

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The collapsed page already contains a Tap Area event to expand the ad and an expanded pageWest Medford with a close tap area to collapse back down.

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CHRIS: Welcome! My name is Chris and I'm a designer on the Google Web Designer team Today I'll walk through a new dynamictemplate with an emphasis on text We'll cover customizations includingconfigurable panels selecting nested elements, dynamic text fitting, editing groups and a demonstration of the template when uploaded into Display &Video 360 Ad Canvas Let's get started First let's navigate to the templatelibrary You'll find the template under the thumbnail Data Driven for Display & Video 360 Notice we have three new template layouts to choose from Blank Slate, Cue Cards and Panorama but today we'll be focusing on cue cards Let's create a template using cue cards I'm going to give the file a quick name andclick Create Now before we proceed in Google Web Designer let's take a quicklook at a design schematic of cue cards So cue cards is a template that utilizeselements and assets such as a logo, a background image, a swipe gallery a swipe gallery navigation, an animated arrow icon and three dynamic text groupslabelled SlideA through SlideC You also notice a few tap areas utilized for dynamic exits OK jumping back into Google Web Designer Let's review a fewimportant panels for customizing and configuring cue cards the template In the timeline you'll notice we have a lock icon Let's click the lock icon to unlock and edit the layer Let's select componentswipe-vertical Next navigate to the Properties panel The Properties panel iswhere we can configure the elements attributes style, position and size, andalso edit the component properties You'll find this component is driventhrough the use of groups SlideA, SlideB, and SlideC Now let's move to the Library panel We'll find the individual group definitions and group contents in the Library We can right click a group nameclick Edit and edit the contents of the group Protip: to quickly inspect theelements inside this group We'll use the Outliner The Outliner is a really coolnew tool for enabling us to view nested elements inside the group versus clicking through your divisions you can rapidly find which element you would like to target and edit You'll also notice in this creative we have twodivisions: wrap-SlideA txt-wrap-SlideA These are dynamic text divisions thathave a little bit of CSS logic that helped to auto center them depending upon what type of information comes down through the feed Now let's click on txt-description-SlideA in the Outliner You'll also notice there's a T icon next tothe txt-description-SlideA This signifies that it's a text element With the text element selected We will come up to the panel at the top named Text In the text panel you'll be able to configure text fitting of dynamic text and also the styling of the text in your document We can set a maximum size andalso a minimum size and when the dynamic text is passed to the division it will display the rendered fitted text size Now let's navigate back to the root ofthe document you'll notice we have breadcrumbs in the bottom left-hand corner of the stage right above the timeline Let's click Div to jump back tothe root of our document Now two more notable panels are the Events panel and the Dynamic panel In the Events panels we have events thatare specific to the control over the animated arrow icons behavior during autoplay and also during user gesture Next to the Events panel we have theDynamic tab These are the dynamic bindings that enable this document to bebound dynamically including assets, text, styling, and click exits You'll also notice Brand Awareness ishighlighted Brand Awareness is the schema we are going to be utilizing inside of Display & Video 360 Ad Canvas click OK to exit the dialog As an added bonus I would like to demonstrate the power of this creative If I jump over to a mock from a visual designer this is technically the specthe designer would like me to build to This creative is dynamic so the textcould technically be interchanged Let's fast forward to what the creative canlook like if I built it using Google Web Designers Cue Cards template You'll notice as I refresh this page the creative auto animates The arrow tries to grab the users' attention by animating and jumping The creative also has anavigation on the right hand side where we can drive the creative Users can also use gesture to scroll through the creative upon user interaction Let's say I wanted to publish this creative and upload it into Display & Video 360Ad Canvas So you might have a question what is the Ad canvas The Ad Canvas isa visual editor you can use to build and edit creatives in real time The Ad Canvas only supports our Google Web Designer data driven templates and also custom variations So in DV360 my template is loaded in the center and on the right hand side I have a UI that is editable on-the-fly You'll notice textfitting is working Variations and iterations can be knockedout proofed and signed off in a matter of minutes now with Google Web Designer'snew data driven templates in the Ad Canvas The new dynamic workflow hasnever been easier if you would like to learn more about Ad Canvas please look in the details section of this video for a Display & Video 360 Ad Canvascomprehensive demonstration link This wraps up our video Please have funcreating new dynamic ads Thank you from the team at Google Web Designer.

💸 How to budget for your web design project pt. 2 💸 - Web Design is Broken e06

1. Gestures are the new clicks

We forget how hard scrolling webpages used to be. Most users would painstakingly move their mouse to the right edge of the screen, to use something ancient called a ‘scrollbar’:

As a pro, you probably used a mouse wheel, cursor keys, or trackpad, but you were way ahead of most users.

In 2015 it’s far easier to scroll than it is to click. On mobile, you can scroll wildly with your thumb. To click on a precise target is actually more difficult — the complete opposite of what we’re used to on the desktop.

As a result, we should expect more and more websites to be built around scrolling first, and clicking second. And of course, that’s exactly what we’ve seen everywhere:

There’s every reason to expect this trend to continue as mobile takes over more of the market. Modern sites have fewer things to click, and much more scrolling. We’ll see fewer links, more buttons, bigger ‘clickable’ areas, and taller pages that expect to be scrolled.

Websites which spread their articles onto multiple pages will soon learn this lesson. Expect these to turn into longer single pages or even, like TIME magazine, into infinite scrolling pages:

It’s too early to know if the web will expand itself onto devices like watches, but if it ever does, you can bet it’ll be almost entirely driven by gestures.

2. The fold really is dead this time

Now scrolling is so cheap, and devices are so varied in size, ‘the fold’ is finally becoming irrelevant.

Designers are increasingly free to not cram everything at the top of a page. This leads to a design trend popularised by Medium — full-screen image titles, with no content visible until you start scrolling:

With tall, scrolling pages, designers have the chance to do what magazines have taken for granted for years: fill their pages with big beautiful images. In 2015 expect to see more designs that take up much more space — especially vertically — and a lot of larger imagery like this.

3. Users are quicker, websites are simplifying

Today every young adult is an expert web user. And even the amateurs are acting like pros: using multiple tabs, and swiping to go back a page.

The result is that everything is faster. And we’ve all learned to become impatient. If you want to make a mild mannered person explode with annoyance, just make their Internet really slow for a minute.

Now websites are forced not just to become faster (a technical problem), but to become faster to understand. Designs which slow the user down have the same impact on their audience as these websites which don’t load at all.

Simpler designs are easier to scan, which means they’re faster to appreciate. It’s easy to see which of these two designs is newer, and it’s because it’s the one that user’s can enjoy the fastest:

This is the biggest reason for the death of skeuomorphic design: users are more perceptive, less patient, and clutter only slows them down.

Apps put most websites to shame with super-minimal, beautiful interfaces. And they’re doing this because minimal interfaces perform better.

Flat design is just the beginning. The real trend is towards simplicity and immediacy, and we expect that to go further than ever in 2015.

4. The pixel is dead

On a desktop, a pixel was a pixel. You even had an idea of how many pixels made up an average inch: 72 dpi. Nowadays very few people know what a pixel is.

With responsive design, we’ve seen a move towards grids and percentages. But one huge area remains still unchallenged: bitmap images.

Almost all of the web is built with images that have half the resolution of a modern display, and they don’t scale. With Retina displays and modern browsers, the time is right for vector images to become more popular in 2015.

We can see this trend already happening with the font-based icons and Google’s Material design. The website loads faster and scale the icons to any size without losing quality. That makes them ideal for designers and modern web browsers.

The technology exists now, but it will take time for professionals to change their habits to create for higher quality displays. Once the average desktop display becomes Retina-grade (like the new iMac), we expect designers to follow suit.

5. Animation is back

If you want to make a website look dated, cover it with animated “Under Construction” GIFs and Flash animation. But several things are coming together to make animation a rising star in modern web design.

Flat design can end up looking too consistent, boring even. Animation helps a website to stand out and to pack more information into less space.

Mobile apps have redefined what a user expects. Mobile apps use motion to convey meaning, and websites are just starting to do the same.

New technologies like CSS animation make it easy to enhance designs without plugins, speed or compatibility issues. And Web Components (#6, below) will only accelerate this.

GIF animation is back, and surprisingly effective. You’ll notice this article makes extensive use of GIF animation (if it doesn’t, you should view this version), which has never been easier to create or share.

6. Components are the new frameworks

Web technology continues to get more complicated, and less semantic. Designers must embed messy code onto their pages for simple tasks, like including Google Analytics or a Facebook Like button. It would be a lot easier if we could just write something like this instead:

<google-analytics key=”UA-12345–678">

And we can with Web Components, which aren’t quite ready to be used by most designers yet. 2015 is looking like their year.

Google’s Material design is here, and it may just be what gets this movement started. Powered by Polymer, and supported by all modern browsers, it provides the rich animation and interaction components from Android apps, with simple tags like these:

If that takes hold, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more component based frameworks appear in 2015. Perhaps Bootstrap 4.0?

7. Social saturation and the rise of direct email

Social media has been a huge success for consumers, but many content producers aren’t so happy.

The problem is saturation. With billions of posts every day, Facebook learns the posts that users are most likely to enjoy and shows only those. Unfortunately that means over time, what you post is increasingly seen by a smaller percentage of your followers. (A problem you can solve, conveniently, by paying Facebook).

Social isn’t going away, but in 2014 we’ve seen a lot of prominent bloggers like Tim Ferriss move their focus away from social and into good old fashioned email lists. They’ve realised that email has one significant advantage over social: a much higher percentage of people will see what you send them.

I expect this post-social trend to continue into 2015, with the under-appreciated trend of Web Notifications (which work much like notifications in a mobile app).

Bonus non-prediction: CSS shapes

This cool technology won’t get noticed, except by designers. CSS shapes allow you to flow layout into shapes, like circles:

It’s incredibly cool, but until browser support is guaranteed, this is likely to be too risky to put time and effort into it you’d need almost two complete designs, for old and new browsers. And outside of designers, we don’t think many users would notice.

It is really cool though.

What to expect in 2015

In 2014 we saw mobile use overtake desktop, but the general public hasn’t caught up. Most organisations still commission a website to look good on their computer first and work on mobile second.

In 2015 that strategy is likely to look out of touch and unprofessional. As the mobile becomes the main device for browsing the web, “mobile-first” will become less of a buzzword and more of a requirement.

Flat design may be everywhere, but when you look beyond ghost buttons the real trend is that simpler sites are faster at gratifying users.

Simplicity is not just a fashion: it’s the future. Expect it to only continue.

It will become more and more common to embed animation into blog posts, and for motion to signify both premium quality (for those who can afford it) and to support the user experience.

Pixels and the fold will slowly be set aside making more room for scrolling and click-second experiences. Web Components will make it easier to deliver app-like experiences in our websites.

Right now you see the best of mobile app design appearing in web design. With enough time, the difference between an app and a website might almost entirely disappear.

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Backstory

I am a product designer at Google, and I joined the company through Sparrow, a French startup that got acquired on July 20, 2012. Since then, I worked with the Gmail team to build from scratch a flagship product that became Inbox by Gmail. It shipped on October 22, 2014.

I designed productive applications for a few years, and I felt like I reached a tipping point. I wanted to expand my skill set, learn new things every day and get better at something I’ve never touched. I needed new challenges to reboot myself by leaving my comfort zone.

I got interested in virtual reality around the Oculus Kickstarter period because of the immersiveness and endless possibilities that came with it. There is nothing more exciting than building for a new medium and exploring an uncharted territory.

I joined the Google Cardboard and Virtual Reality team on April 17, 2015. Thanks to Clay Bavor and Jon Wiley for this great opportunity.

Another dimension

My first weeks in the team were as scary as it can get. People used words I had no idea of and asked me questions I didn’t know how to answer.

I am not going to lie, ramping up on the jargon was not easy but I was expecting that. Virtual reality is a deep field (pun intended) grouping together a variety of job titles each requiring a very specialized skill set. The first weeks were intense and day after day I had a better vision of the big picture. Slowly, the pieces came together. I found out which roles would be the best fit, what I wanted to do and what was required to get there. Regardless of the mission, I knew I would have to learn a lot, but I was prepared for this challenge. My feelings varied from one day to another. From super excited to create and learn something new, to super scared because of the colossal knowledge I still had to learn. Working with smart and knowledgeable people around me reinforced these mixed feelings.

Everything is going to be alright

I told myself and firmly believed that the dots would connect eventually. I am a passionate person, and I knew that I didn’t mind spending hours learning and experimenting.

During my product designer career, I got better at understanding, identifying and resolving user problems. Making things easy to use and delight users is not that different, no matter the medium.

The core of the mission is the same, but to get you from point A to B there are some interesting things to know.

  • Sketching, is, again, at the core of everything. During any brain dump or design phase, sketching is as fast as it can get. I’ve sketched more in the time I’ve joined this team than I have in my entire career.
  • Any design skills as diverse as they are will be a huge benefit.
  • Photography knowledge will help you because you will interact with concepts such as field of view, depth of field, caustics, exposure and so on. Being able to use light to your advantage has been much valuable to me already.
  • The more you know 3D and tools, the less you will have to learn. It’s pretty obvious but be aware that at some point, you might do architecture, character, props modeling, rigging, UV mapping, texturing, dynamics, particles and so on.
  • Motion design is important. As designers, we know how to work with devices with physical boundaries. VR has none, so it’s a different way of thinking. “How does this element appear and disappear?” will be a redundant question.
  • Python, C#, C++ or any previous coding skills will help you ramp up faster. Prototyping has a big place because of the fundamental need of iterating. This area is so new that you might be one of the first to design a unique kind of interaction. Any recent game engine such as Unity or Unreal engine largely integrates code. There is a large active community in game and VR development with a huge amount of training and resources already.
  • Be prepared to be scared and get ready to embrace the unknown. It’s a new world that evolves every day. Even the biggest industry-leading companies are still trying to figure things out. That’s how it is.

Roles

Design teams will evolve because this new medium opens a lot of possibilities for creation. Think about the video game or the film industry for instance.

I think there will be two big design buckets.

The first one will be about the core user experience, interface, and interaction design. This is very close to how product design team are structured today (Visual, UI, UX, motion designers, researchers, and prototypers).

Each role will have to adapt to the rules of this new medium and keep a tight relationship with engineers. The goal will always remain the same; create a fast iteration cycle to explore a wide range of interactive designs.

On the other hand, content teams will replicate indie and game design studio structure to create everything from unique experiences to AAA games. The entertainment industry as we know it in other mediums will likely be very similar in VR.

Ultimately, both will have a close relationship to create a premium end to end experience. Both industries have a great opportunity to learn from each other.

To wrap up on my personal experience, I think being a product designer in VR is not that different but requires a lot of dedication to understand and learn a vast field of knowledge.

First step and fundamentals of VR design

First step

In this second part of the article, I will try to cover the basics you need to know regarding this medium. It’s meant to be designer oriented and simplified as much as possible.

Let’s get (a little bit) technical

The new dimension and immersiveness is a game changer. There is a set of intrinsic rules you need to know to be able to respect physiologically and treat your users carefully. We regrouped some of these principles in an app so you can learn through this great immersive experience.

Download Cardboard Design Lab

You can watch Alex’s presentation at I/O this year which goes more in-depth. The following is a small summary.

If you have to remember just two rules:

  • Do not drop frames.
  • Maintain head tracking.

People instinctively react to external events you might not be aware of, and you should be designing accordingly.

Physiological comfort. It regroups notions like motion sickness. Be careful when using acceleration and deceleration. Maintain a stable horizon line to avoid the “sea sickness” effect.

Environment comfort. People can experience various discomforts in certain situation like heights, small spaces (claustrophobia), big spaces (agoraphobia) and so on. Be careful with the scale and colliding objects. For example, if someone throws an object at you, you will instinctively try to grab it, dodge or protect yourself. Use it to your advantage and not to user’s disadvantage.

You can also use user senses to help you create more immersive products and cues. You can find inspiration in the game industry. They use all sorts of tricks to guide users during their journey. Here’s a couple:

  • Audio for spatial positioning.
  • Light to show a path and help the player.

Do not hurt or over-fatigue your users. It’s a classic mistake when you start to design for this medium. As cool as it looks, Hollywood sci-fi movies fed us with interactions that goes against simple ergonomic rules and can create major discomfort over time. Minority Report gestures are not suitable for a long period of activity.

I made a very simplified illustration of XY head movement safe zones. Green is good, yellow is ok and avoid red. There are a some user studies made public (links at the bottom of the page) that will give you more in-depth information about that topic.

A simplified illustration of XY head movement safe zones.

Bad design can lead to more serious conditions.

As an example, have you heard about Text Neck? A study, published in Neuro and Spine Surgery measured varying pressures in our neck as our head moves to different positions. Moving from a neutral head position looking straight ahead to looking down increase the pressure by 440%. The muscles and ligaments get tired and sore; the nerves are stretched, and discs get compressed. All of this misbehavior can lead to serious long-term issues such as permanent nerves damages.

TLDR; Avoid extended look down interactions.

Degrees of freedom

The body has six different ways of moving in space. It can rotate and translate in XYZ.

3 Degrees of freedom (Orientation tracking)

Phone based head mounted device such as Cardboard, Gear VR are tracking the orientation via an embedded gyroscope (3DOF). Rotations on all three axes are tracked.

6 Degrees of freedom (Orientation + Position tracking)

To achieve six degrees of freedom, the sensor(s) will track positions in space (+X, -X, +Y, -Y, +Z, -Z). High-end devices like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift are 6DOF.

Tracking
Making 6DOF possible frequently involves optical tracking of infrared emitters by one or more sensors. In Oculus’s case, the tracking sensor is on a stationary camera, while in Vive’s case the tracking sensors are on the actual HMD.

Oculus and Vive lighthouses position tracking

Inputs

Depending on the system you are designing for, the input method will vary and affect your decisions. For example Google Cardboard has a single button, that’s why the interaction model is a simple gaze and tap. HTC Vive uses two, six degrees of freedom controllers and Oculus will ship with an Xbox One controller but will eventually use a 6DOF dual controller “Oculus Touch”. All of them allow you to use more advanced and immersive interaction patterns.

The good old Xbox OneOculus Touch

There are also other kinds of inputs such as hand tracking. The most famous being Leap Motion. You can mount it to your Head Mounted Display (HMD).

Leap Motion on top of a DK2

This area constantly evolves as technology catches up but as of today, hand tracking is not reliable enough to be used as the main input. The principal issues are related to hands and fingers, collisions, and subtle movements tracking.

Even though it’s very familiar, using a game controller is a disappointing experience. It physically removes some of the freedom VR is creating. In FPS, strafing and moving might usually cause some discomfort because of the accelerations.

On the other hand, the HTC Vive controllers reinforce the VR experience thanks to the 6 degrees of freedom, and Tilt Brush is a really good example. As I am writing theses lines, I haven't tried the Oculus touch but every demo I have seen looks very promising. Check out Oculus Toybox demo.

While designing user interfaces and interactions, inputs are the keystone that will drive some decisions differently depending on which method you are using. You should be familiar with all of them and aware of their limitations.

Tools

This is a big piece and might require a more in-depth article. I will focus on the most popular tools used in this industry.

Pen and paper

You just can’t beat them. It’s the first tool we use because it’s always around and does not require too many skills. It’s a proven way to express your ideas and iterate at a fast and cheap pace. Theses factors are important because, in VR, the cost of moving from wireframes to hi-fi is higher than 2D.

Sketch

I still use it every day. Because of its ease of use, it’s the perfect tool that allows me to create a lot of explorations before moving to a VR prototype. It’s also handy for its export tools and plugins that are a huge time saver. If you are not familiar with that program, I wrote articles here and there.

Cinema 4D

I don’t see C4D as a competitor of Maya. Both are great tools, and each excels in its own way. When you don’t have a 3D background, the learning curve can be very steep. I like C4D because the interface, the parametric and non-destructive approach make sense for me. It helps me create more iterations quickly. I love the MoGraph modules, and a lot of great plugins are available. The community is very active, and you can find a lot of high-quality learning materials.

Cinema 4D motion explorations

Maya

Maya is colossal in a good and a bad way. It does anything and everything a 3D artist needs. Most of the games and movies are designed with it. It’s a robust piece of software which can handle massive simulations and very heavy scenes with ease. From rendering, modeling, animation, rigging, it’s simply the best tool out there. Maya is highly customizable, and that is one reason why it’s the industry standard. Studios need to create their own set of tools, and Maya is the perfect candidate to integrate any pipeline.

On the other hand, learning all the tools will require your full and unconditional dedication for quite some time. I mean weeks of explorations, months of learning and years of practice on a daily basis.

Unity

It’s most certainly THE prototyping tool where everything will happen. You can easily create and move things around with a direct VR preview of your project. It’s a powerful game engine with a great community and a ton of resources available in their store (the asset author determines the pricing). In the assets library, you can find simple 3D models, complete projects, audio, analytics tools, shaders, scripts, materials, textures and so on.

Their documentation and learning platform are stellar. They have a wide range of high-quality tutorials.

Unity3d uses mainly C# or JavaScript and comes with Microsoft Visual Studio but doesn't come with a built-in visual editor even though, you can find good ones in the assets store.

It support all major HMD and is the best to build for cross-platform: Windows PC, Mac OS X, Linux, Web Player, WebGL, VR(including Hololens), SteamOS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Tizen, Android TV and Samsung SMART TV, as well as Xbox One & 360, PS4, Playstation Vita, and Wii U

It supports all major 3D formats and has the best in 2D game creation. The in-app 3D editor is weak, but people have built great plugins to correct that. The software is licensed based, but you can also use the free version to a certain extent. You can check the details on their pricing page. It’s the most popular game engine out there with ~47% of market share.

Unreal Engine

The direct competitor of Unity3D. Unreal also has great documentation and videos tutorials. Their store is smaller because it’s much newer.

One of the big advantages over the competition are the graphic capabilities; Unreal is one step ahead in nearly every area: terrain, particles, post processing effects, shadows & lighting, and shaders. Everything looks amazing.

Unreal Engine 4 uses C++ and comes with Blueprint, a visual script editor.

I haven’t worked with it too much yet, so I can’t elaborate more.

Less cross-platform compatibility: Windows PC, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, VR, Linux, SteamOS, HTML5, Xbox One, and PS4.

Closing notes

Virtual reality is a very young medium. As pioneers, we still have a lot to learn and discover. That’s why I am very excited about it and why I joined this team. We have the opportunity to explore and we should, as much as we can. Understand, identify, build and iterate. Over and over.
And over again…

Resources

Community

  • Immersive design Facebook group

Videos

  • Google I/O 2015 — Designing for Virtual Reality
  • Oculus Connect keynotes
  • VR Design: Transitioning from a 2D to 3D Design Paradigm
  • VR Interface Design Pre-Visualisation Methods
  • 2014 Oculus Connect — Introduction to Audio in VR

Tutorials

  • Cinema 4D tutorials
  • Unity 3D tutorials
  • Maya and 3D tools tutorials

Articles

  • LeapMotion — VR Best Practices Guidelines
  • The fundamentals of user experience in virtual reality
  • Ready for UX in 3D?

Thanks everyone who helped me with the rereading and improvements 💖