VR users are a captive audience. They have nothing to do but sit or stand and wait while the environment is loading. Long load times on traditional platforms are bad enough, but within a virtual environment they are even more noticeable and can be all the more frustrating — and in some cases even confusing. However, in the cases where long load times are unavoidable, there are design practices that can be used to reduce the frustration and confusion.
TL;DR Do’s and Don’ts
- Use visual cues to let people know the experience is loading.
- Include audio during the load times so people don’t think the application crashed.
- Maintain head tracking at all times.
- Keep the load scenes consistent to reduce confusion as to what’s happening.
- Don’t use static images as a load scene with head tracking turned off.
- Don’t show a solid black scene with no audio as this will make people think the application froze or crashed completely.
- Consider creating a 360° image or another interesting visual that requires minimal development effort so that people can get acquainted with the experience while the application is loading.
- Use smaller file sizes or performance loads for load scenes in order to avoid latency issues as this can cause discomfort and even vertigo.
- If possible, include a way for people to remain engaged even while waiting for the next scene to load.
Example experiences to try
The Lab by Valve
Their load scene is a simple image that gives you an idea of the content that is being loaded. Even though it’s a simple 360° image with mostly grey space, you can be assured that it hasn’t crashed since head tracking is turned on.
Ghost Giant VR
This load scene allows people to draw in the air with sparkling lines of light, which continues to keep people engaged in the experience while waiting for the next scene to load.
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I’m an Immersive Tech UX Design Professional with over 22 years of experience designing for kiosks, websites, mobile apps and desktop software for many well-known and not-so-well-known companies.
I’m not speaking on behalf of or representing any company. These are my personal thoughts, experiences and opinions.