If you say the words “computer” or “website” or “internet” to anyone these days — or really any time in the last decade or so — you can probably guess what pops into their head. A screen. A keyboard. Something to move a pointer around. Scrolling up and down. Clicking or tapping on what you want. We’ve formed conventions around experiences on the Web and the types of tools we use to have those experiences.
But if I say “virtual reality” to you, what do you picture? Some kind of helmet or a pair of goggles strapped to your head? What about the experience itself? Suddenly things that you could only see through a single two-dimensional window can appear anywhere around you in three-dimensional space. Interacting with that space can involve your entire body, not just swiping your thumb or pressing a button.
The lack of common conventions and experience with VR means that designers and developers have to invent new ways of testing the usability of the experiences they create even as they create them.
In this video, Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group delves into the complexity of how to test the usability of VR applications that can be new and unfamiliar and how UX testing for virtual reality mirrors UX testing in the early days of the personal computer.