Virtual reality has been part of our collective imagination for decades, thanks to science fiction and movies like The Matrix. But life is now imitating art as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming, well, reality.
While some people may feel a sense of trepidation about the advent of the virtual world (let’s be honest — those movies don’t usually paint it in the most positive light), it’s exciting news for designers.
VR and AR are already altering the landscape of the design industry — including graphic design — creating new opportunities for designers and providing them with new ways to design, prototype, test, and share their work.
VR/AR technologies are set to be one of the major design trends in 2023 and beyond. They’re adding new dimensions to interaction design and providing new user experiences that can be harnessed by pretty much any industry while expanding the ways people interact.
What seemed impossible just a few short years ago is happening now, and the VR industry is growing rapidly. It’s projected to grow from $6.9 billion in 2021 to over $50 billion by 2030.
The intersection of VR and the future of graphic design is an exciting area of development. As VR technology advances, more and more designers will turn to it as a medium for creating, iterating, and showcasing their work.
This article will cover five ways we expect to see designers integrate VR technologies into their future design work.
1. More interactive and immersive design
As VR and AR gradually become more mainstream, an increasing number of brands are already working on developing immersive branding experiences. While immersive experiences have existed in the world of video games for a few years now, brands are just beginning to tap into the power of these experiences.
But why are immersive experiences so powerful? It’s because they create emotions. Savvy brands are learning to create virtual experiences that complement their broader marketing strategies to foster positive emotions that engage audiences and build connections between them and the brand.
These immersive experiences are a new medium through which designers can communicate their ideas and tell the story behind a product or business more effectively.
There’s virtually no limit to what you can do with immersive VR design — from virtual exhibitions to product design demonstrations. For example, you can incorporate VR into web design — like the Prado Museum in Madrid, which allows website visitors to take a virtual tour of its exhibits.
Another way to work with this technology is to create AR user experiences and mixed-reality environments. In another example from sunny Spain, Casa Batlló in Barcelona — a modernist house designed by the Catalan architect Gaudí — uses augmented reality overlays to guide its visitors through an immersive and interactive experience.
In product design, immersive experiences can help shoppers get a better idea of the look and feel of a product — something that’s been missing from the online shopping experience until recently. For example, the IKEA Place app lets people visualize what their new furniture might look like in their homes.
VR can also make it easier for designers to communicate with clients, whether by holding virtual meetings with avatars in the Metaverse or another virtual environment or sending a client a holographic mock-up of the design. This allows clients to interact with the design and see all its details up close, gaining as much information about it as possible.
Factoring interaction design into the design process can streamline feedback cycles and reduce the number of iterations needed. It also demonstrates your VR development and design skills, which can help you snag the client or get the design approved.
VR technology allows designers to test their ideas and designs in a virtual environment before committing to a final version by providing them with a new medium to design conceptual products and prototypes.
As the technology progresses and becomes more readily available, designers will be able to make the traditional, cumbersome, and often time-consuming prototyping process more efficient.
Using 3D modeling and VR headsets, they will be able to see what their 3D designs will look like without having to build them first. The ability to prototype in virtual environments will likely extend beyond graphic design, impacting UX design, architecture, and interior design, among others.
For example, even though VR is still in its infancy, people can take virtual tours of new homes that have been designed to help them imagine what it would be like to live there. Architects and interior designers can then use this feedback to improve their designs without having to build them first.
3. Faster creativity
With VR/AR technology, the only limit is your imagination. You can create user interfaces that mimic the real world or invent an entire universe. You can also design virtual objects that users can interact with for an enhanced VR experience.
Add to this the vast amounts of data that are now available thanks to crowdsourcing and open-source formatting, and the design process is becoming faster and more efficient — a trend that is likely to continue.
3D designers will be able to leverage data from hundreds of sources and compile it instantly into a design, streamlining the design process and allowing designers to create more quickly.
4. Improved error spotting and modification
The better you are at spotting problems with your design, the more efficient your design process will be. VR technology will help designers to spot and correct errors more easily — here’s how.
One of the key benefits of VR is its ability to immerse you fully in a virtual environment. This can be particularly useful for designers, as it allows them to experience their designs in 3D rather than looking at a 2D design on a flat screen and imagining it in three dimensions.
Immersion gives designers a 360-degree view of their design and enables them to interact with and test it in an intuitive and realistic way. This makes it easier to spot errors or areas for improvement.
Virtual prototyping lets designers spot and correct errors early in the design process so they can fix any problems before they become too costly or time-consuming.
Gone are the days when design collaboration meant working on a shared file or using tools such as Slack to communicate.
With VR, designers can collaborate with other designers or clients from anywhere in the world, for example, by working together in a shared virtual environment.
This allows multiple designers and stakeholders to review, evaluate, and iterate simultaneously, reducing the time required to spot and fix errors — thus saving a lot of time and money in the design process.
5. Virtual reality training
VR and AR technologies will streamline the design process, enhance creativity, and make it easier to collaborate with clients and other designers. But its advantages don’t stop there.
VR will also enable designers to continually improve and learn new skills — which is essential if you want to grow your design career. For instance, VR could be used as a training tool for designers, allowing them to learn new software or techniques in a simulated environment.
Virtual reality is transforming the world of design
VR and AR technologies look set to continue influencing the future of graphic design — and pretty much all types of design — for years to come.
Another tool that’s helping shape the future of graphic design is Playbook — a digital storage system created by designers for designers.
With Playbook, not only do you get 4TB of lifetime storage and the best visual storage system on the market — you also gain access to our community for artists and designers and a ton of resources that will help you build your design career.
If you’re an aspiring designer ready to launch or uplevel your career, you’ll need a portfolio that will knock potential clients’ socks off — so check out our post on the top 9 portfolio tips for graphic designers.