VR SaaS Platform Design
iQ3 Connect strives to make immersive, virtual training a reality for industrial and manufacturing enterprises through providing a platform in which clients can upload and customize 3D content, design animations, and enable interactions to create VR trainings without the need for coding.
However . . .
iQ3's existing platform requires users to manipulate script-based code to create trainings.
Original Platform - The Workspace
The workspace allows for sorting through and making changes to 3D models thus creating "scenes" or starting points for steps within a training. The user must create all scenes that will exist within the steps prior to creating a training module.
Original Platform - The Dashboard
The original website consists of three main spaces to navigate between: the dashboard, the workspace and the script editor. The first space and step includes uploading all individual 3D content to the dashboard to create the models to appear within the workspace.
Original Platform - The Script Editor
After the user creates all necessary scenes, they head back to the dashboard where in they must upload all of the scenes. Once the scenes are loaded as training materials, the user must go into the script editor, scroll through the glossary of code to find a desired command, copy and paste the command into their training script. Once the action command exists within the script, the user must change the values and inputs to reflect how and when the action should occur.
Feeling confused yet?
So were we, and more importantly, so were iQ3's clients.
“If I didn't have a programming background, I would be pulling my hair out."
- iQ3 User
"I wouldn't even know where to start. The whole platform is really overwhelming and confusing."
- Potential User
“A lot of it is counterintuitive. The language just doesn't make sense.”
- iQ3 User
Gaining some insight from the user research
We conducted user research through interviews and surveys. After synthesizing the data, we began to notice some trends about iQ3 users. One of these being that existing iQ3 users were able to navigate the platform at all was because of their experience with writing and reading code. Even still, these users overwhelming reported confusion in their experiences on the site and required a great deal of support from iQ3 directly.
This was an important discovery as iQ3 stakeholders want the platform to be accessible to anyone include novice users with no programming familiarity. While the research helped identify some specific pain points, it became apparent that the software currently limits the client base due to requiring a high level of technical skill upon entry. Because of this, we determined that the user research could not reliably be used to create a user persona as the profile of the current iQ3 user was not reflective of that of the desired iQ3 user.
How might we create a streamlined experience for novice users to create sophisticated trainings without the need for script manipulation?
Manage capabilities simultaneously
Navigating between the dashboard, workspace, and script editor becomes cumbersome when creating complex trainings. Users need a framework that allows them to create scenes, interactions, animations, and steps in a single editor space.
Demonstrate real-time progress
Users need a way to view progress to their trainings as they make them and check their changes in the VR view throughout the process.
Represent non-linear timelines visually
Module steps are presented to users in a linear form; however, the nature of the VR training allows for multiple paths to be taken during the training. An approachably simple view of the branching possibilities available was an imperative feature iQ3 stakeholders were looking for.
Use intuitive language and icons
Second to script manipulation, the most frequent piece of feedback we received from users was the language could be unclear, overlapping, or entirely contradictory as well as that there were too many confusing icons.
Putting Pen to Paper
Maintaining complex capabilities
while providing users a simpler,
Lessons in Virtual Reality
Finally, we delivered a mid-fidelity prototype to communicate the main capabilities and navigation within the new platform. The iQ3 team asked for optimal time invested in creating a more efficient framework and the layout of additional features for the time and scope of the project rather than spending time adding media to convert the frames to high-fidelity. After presenting the research findings and design decisions, the stakeholders were impressed and excited by the final product and are planning to implement many aspects of the redesign in 2023.
Over the course of 3 weeks, this project furthered my knowledge about information architecture, usability, and innovation a great deal. Working to create for cutting-edge software was fascinating but an intimidating prospect at the same time. Designing something truly new gave way for creativity and innovation; however, it presented challenges in trying to achieve intuitiveness without having any standard heuristics to rely on. This led to discovering inspiration in unlikely places out of necessity. I looked to other forms of content creation to discover how something technologically complex can be translated and simplified for beginner use.
Through learning to look all over for inspiration to getting comfortable with ambiguous tasks, I feel competent in my ability to take on difficult and vague projects in future design work.