AUGMENTED REALITY DESIGN HEURISTICS: DESIGNING FOR DYNAMIC INTERACTIONS
Augmented Reality (AR) poses a number of challenges for designers. It's still new and doesn't have an established best interaction practice, so users as well as designers can sometimes find it confusing to work with. Unlike the clearly defined boundaries of desktop screen space, AR spaces are implemented within and also reliant upon real physical environments, which makes them dynamic and variable. This complicates things like positioning, attention direction, as well as collaborative interactions and even research evaluation as well.
To help designers solve these challenges the researchers developed 9 Design Heuristics (which is a term designers use for guidelines, or shortcuts)
1. Fit with user environment and task.
AR experiences should use visualizations and metaphors that have meaning within the physical and task environment in which they are presented. The choice of visualizations & metaphors should match the mental models that the user will have based on their physical environment and task.
2. Form communicates function.
The form of a virtual element should rely on existing metaphors that the user will know in order to communicate affordances and capabilities.
3. Minimize distraction and overload.
AR experiences can easily become visually overwhelming. Designs should work to minimize accidental distraction due to designs that are overly cluttered, busy, and/or movement filled.
4. Adaptation to user position and motion.
The system should adapt such that virtual elements are useful and usable from the variety of viewing angles, distances, and movements that will be taken by the user.
5. Alignment of physical and virtual worlds.
Placement of virtual elements should make sense in the physical environment. If virtual elements are aligned with physical objects, this alignment should be continuous over time and viewing perspectives.
6. Fit with user’s physical abilities.
Interaction with AR experiences should not require the user to perform actions that are physically challenging, dangerous, or that require excess amounts of coordination. All physical motion required should be easy.
7. Fit with user’s perceptual abilities.
AR experiences should not present information in ways that fall outside of an intended user's perceptual thresholds. Designers should consider size, color, motion, distance, and resolution when designing for AR.
8. Accessibility of off screen objects.
Interfaces that require direct manipulation (for example, AR & touch screens) should make it easy for users to find or recall the items they need to manipulate when those items are outside the field of view.
9. Accounting for hardware capabilities.
AR experiences should be designed to accommodate for the capabilities & limitations of the hardware platform.
These guidelines were developed through a rigorous selection and testing process that began by sourcing existing guidelines from an extensive literature review (see table below)
These heuristics were then mapped thematically, and those groupings were evaluated in the 1st instance by 3 design experts. Following further adjustments in response to this 1st round of feedback the heuristic themes were re-evaluated, this time by 5 experts, to identify any doubling up, or lack of relevance. The heuristics (14 at this point) were then tested in practice during the design of two AR applications. The experiential insight gained through application revealed a few more inconsistencies and overlap, which inspired the researchers to streamline them further into the 9 heuristics presented above, which also underwent a 3rd round of evaluation by 5 expert reviewers to assess inter-item consistency and inter-rater reliability before being finalised.
Endsley, T.C., Sprehn, K.A., Brill, R.M., Ryan, K.J., Vincent, E.C. and Martin, J.M., 2017, September. Augmented reality design heuristics: Designing for dynamic interactions. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (Vol. 61, No. 1, pp. 2100-2104). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
The USW Audience of the Future research team is compiling a summary collection of recent research in the field of immersive, and enhanced reality media