What is the Metaverse? How UX Designers Can Adapt to the Future of Marketing

From 3D tools to immersive interfaces, here’s how the future of the Metaverse is expected to change UX design like never before.

What is the Metaverse? How UX Designers Can Adapt to the Future of Metaverse Marketing
Portrait for Rebecca Barnatt-SmithBy Rebecca Barnatt-Smith  |  Updated June 28, 2022

With over 4.8 billion internet users across the globe, the digital world is continually adapting to accommodate new forms of communication and interaction within the social sphere. As e-commerce booms and social platforms multiply, it’s clear that a digitally native world is just around the corner – and the demand for tech and design innovation is only continuing to grow. 

New forms of VR/AR technology are revolutionizing the online sphere, user experience is becoming essential, and as new software extends the capabilities of digital immersion, it’s no surprise that UX has become a hot topic for virtual reality experts.

As the metaverse era begins, consumers are shifting from users to players, and traditional forms of marketing are becoming more redundant. From content design and 3D tools to new communication interfaces that promote immersion, here’s how the metaverse is expected to change UX design like never before.

What Is The Metaverse? 

Metaverse - UX Design

So, what is the metaverse? We’ve all heard the term thrown around on tech platforms and during Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta reveal, but what does it actually mean for UX designers who will pave the way for the future of effective online marketing? 

Influencer Marketing Hub defines the metaverse as “something that is always active, exists in real-time, players have individual agency, it’s a self-contained and fully functioning universe and contains user-generated content.”

As we adpat to this shift in a user-generated content dominated online environment, it’s clear that the metaverse will continue to transform consumer attitudes, demanding a more active user experience design across a number of sectors. From e-commerce and the corporate market to gaming and entertainment, it’s clear that the metaverse expects more of marketers. But just how will this revolutionize the industry?

How Will the Metaverse Change The Future Of Marketing?

For smart marketers, the metaverse could be a game-changer in regards to gaining exposure and boosting online revenue. As VR continues to dominate a number of sectors across the globe, the metaverse’s advertising potential is infinite.

How will the metaverse Change The Future Of Marketing? Virtual and Augmented Reality gateways

The key here is prioritizing new forms of immersive design and smart consumer content that can not only easily insert itself into the virtual world, but encourage consumers to interact and communicate with it. To provide support, businesses can also integrate UCaaS systems to improve customer relationships.

Especially for Gen Z demographics, where 87% of young users are already interacting with current metaverse platforms such as Fortnite from the comfort of their smartphones, the benefits quickly outweigh the costs for companies aiming to gain exposure. In fact, providing an immersive experience within the metaverse that enables a player to connect and interact with a virtual version of a product or service will translate into higher conversion rates in the real world.

For example, the London startup fashion agency, Dimension Studio saw their profits double in 2021 as a result of experimenting with new forms of UX marketing in the metaverse. 

Specializing in the future of volumetric content and creating immersive experiences within the metaverse, this company is one of the first pioneers in the future of 3D forms of UX design. Partnering with Balenciaga’s Afterworld game, they created a new form of virtual production that enabled a player to step onto a platform within a virtual environment and physically test out Balenciaga’s pieces on their augmented avatars.

Using new forms of 3D UX design and the Metaverse to their advantage, they’ve made $6.5 million in revenue as a result.

Commenting on the success, Metaverse expert, Cathy Hackl stated that the future of marketing and advertising needs to be thought about in 3D.

“The professionals of today need to start thinking in 3D because the professionals of tomorrow will already be thinking in 3D,” commented Hackl in a recent interview with Vogue. “Agencies will need to partner with people that have game design experience and game theory. They’re going to need those people that not only know how to create beautiful things but actually know how to make things work in a gamified way inside virtual worlds.”

What Does This Mean For UX Designers?

UX Designers and the Metaverse - Graphic from Envato Elements

It’s clear that UX designers will need to shift their mindset in the wake of the Metaverse. Rather than designing for passive consumption, the future will centre around active design that encourages consumers to act on their creation and continue to blur the lines between what is real and what is virtual.

Shifting From Users To Players

Designers will need to think of consumers as players, rather than simple users of technology.  In order to improve user experience across online platforms, UX designers need to create a wholly immersive experience that enables a player to live and interact with a virtual world, rather than simply experiencing it.

Immersive design will need to be applied to all forms of UX, even outside of metaverse world-building. This applies to web design, content creation and advertisements too. As the line between the virtual and real continues to blur, designers need to focus on inserting a product, service or advertisement into the metaverse seamlessly. Consumers are much more likely to interact with UX design that feels natural, authentic and consumer-created.

As technology continues to make metaverse players increasingly smart, it’s time for designers – and modern marketers – to get smarter.

How to Improve UX Design for the Metaverse

A fully virtual world may only be around the corner, but UX designers still have time to adapt. Here are some of the tweaks you can make to your UX initiatives as metaverse design continues to revolutionize the digital world. 

Start Storytelling With Design

The metaverse is massive, and predicted to only expand in the coming years. With a large following comes a large number of experiences across a diverse consumer group. The key for UX designers is finding a way to connect user experiences to create a compelling story that hooks an audience amongst competitors.

That’s why it’s time to start prioritizing storytelling. In order to gain awareness and exposure, telling a story with your design will immerse consumers for a more natural, customer-led experience with your brand. 

Better still, learn how to integrate your UX design into their existing virtual stories. Find a way to promote or advertise using an existing narrative within the metaverse. 

Metaverse roblox vans world
Image Source: Vans

For example, on gaming platforms such as Roboblox, skateboarding brand Vans introduced a skatepark into the metaverse, which purely existed for users to interact with during their own virtual narratives. Generating 48 million visitors and boosting revenue for the brand outside of the metaverse, there’s no doubt that storytelling will be a key tactic for UX designers.

Sit Back And Observe 

The metaverse is still relatively new, so a smart move for new UX designers on the block would be to simply sit back and observe. 

Take a closer look at your competitors and start user testing. Do an audit of your current engagement stats, audience characteristics and site analytics using tools such as Google Analytics and Finteza. Designers need to see how their audience currently interact with the metaverse and understand how their products will behave in new virtual surroundings.

Incorporating 3D tools & VR Design 

In order to effectively design for the metaverse, UX designers are moving towards new 3D modelling alternatives such as Tvori and SketchUp, which will enhance modelling and prototyping in a 3D virtual world.

It’s also important for UX and UI designers to get more equipped with the new forms of VR/AR tech on the market. Utilizing elements of augmented and virtual reality within daily life will allow designers to step into the shoes of their consumers and visualize the image they want to create for immersion success.

The Future of Metaverse Marketing

With 58 million people in the US currently engaging with at least one form of AR/VR tech once a month, there’s no doubt that the Metaverse will have a huge impact on both the future of marketing and UX design.

As the demand for virtual immersion continues to grow, traditional forms of marketing just won’t cut it anymore. Interactive experiences and communication is now a must if you want to stay on top of online competitors, and UX design stands at the forefront of this. On the back of Facebook’s 2021 Meta rebrand and gaming platforms such as Fortnite and Roboblox leading the way, the metaverse is expected to transform consumer advertising and interaction design within the next 5 years. The future is now!

Guest Author: Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

Rebecca is a freelance journalist and multi-media marketing executive, specialising in UX design, SEO and helping small businesses grow online.

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