Designing for the Metaverse
While designer has always been a somewhat ambiguous job title, lately we have started seeing more and more consistency in how designers work and provide value for organizations. We see more and more standardization in methods, tools and softwares used by designers.
However, designing for the Metaverse — “a set of interconnected digital spaces that lets you do things you can’t do in the physical world”– will be completely different. Being a Metaverse Designer will require a shift in mindset, skills, and methods.
1. Storytelling will be at the forefront
This is nothing new to the design world. Storytelling has always been discussed as a way to bring the stories of our users into the design rationale and decision-making.
However, when designing for the Metaverse, storytelling will have to be at the forefront of everything we do. Designing Metaverse experiences will require a high degree of understanding of how to build a compelling end-to-end story. There will be thousands of experiences in the Metaverse and as a designer, our job will be to connect them all — which actually brings me to my next point.
2. Consistency will be a guiding principle
When designing for the metaverse, we can no longer design in isolation. Mark Zuckerberg talks about the concept of “interoperability” — meaning that every individual experience inside the metaverse should work flawlessly with others to create a consistent experience. What this means for us designers is that one can no longer accept siloes when designing. We will constantly have to think about the 360 experience in the metaverse.
3. 3D tools will beat them all
When designing for the metaverse, 2D sketching tools like Sketch and Figma won’t even matter any more. To design metaverse experiences will mean designing virtual artifacts in 3D. To be a succesful Metaverse Designer, you will need to know how to use 3D modelling software (see the bottom of the post for where to start).
4. Bringing back field research
When researching users in the metaverse, observations will be the most important method to use. No matter if you’re doing research in the virtual reality of the metaverse or in the physical world, being able to understand the physical surroundings and their effect on the user experience will be crucial. The usability of your product will be affected by the physical space in which the user will be using it. Is the user experience happening on a couch, on a balcony, or in the middle of the street? The situational usability cannot be neglected if you wish to design experiences for the metaverse.
So, what can you do to prepare?
In this post, I discussed the four main areas we’ll need to focus on when becoming Metaverse Designers. As you can understand, if we want to be successful designers for the Metaverse, it will require a shift in focus and methods. But how can you prepare for this? I have a few suggestions:
Learn how to create effective storyboards. This will be a crucial method to convey your ideas for the story around your design. Read more about it here.
Learn Systems Design. To create consistent experiences across worlds in the metaverse, you have to prioritize Systems Design over isolated user experience design. Read more about it here.
Learn about ethnographic research methods. Perfect your qualitative research skills such as observation.