This Blog Explores:
- How the web has evolved from static pages to dynamic experiences, and how the future of the web will enable more immersive and realistic interactions using technologies such as VR and 3D.
- It discusses planning, choosing, and optimising 3D web technologies to create engaging and valuable web applications and websites.
- It shares some examples of brands and platforms that are leading the way in the spatial future of the web, such as Humane, Nvidia, and Meta.
Imagine the stone age of the internet, when websites were about as dynamic as cave paintings. I’m talking about the late 90’s when most sites were simple, flat pages with giant fonts, blinding backgrounds, and “Under Construction” gifs galore.
Navigating these digital dinosaurs felt like wandering through an abandoned ghost town, clicking from page to page hoping to find signs of life. The UX was about as intuitive as deciphering hieroglyphics (with way too much Comic Sans thrown in).
Then the first sparks of innovation began to ignite, and we discovered fire – well, Flash. Suddenly vector animations and interactive multimedia elements could flicker and flare across the web. Of course, Flash brought its fiery drama of buggy plugins and security issues. But it paved the way for the web to evolve beyond static pages into dynamic digital experiences.
Today, websites showcase full motion graphics, 3D visuals, and immersive interactions that enhance the user experience and satisfaction.
For example, Ikea’s website allows users to browse 3D room sets and see how different furniture and accessories would look in their own homes. Nike’s website lets users customize their shoes by choosing from various colours, materials, and styles, and see the 3D-rendered results in real-time.
These examples demonstrate how the web can provide users with more realistic and personalized experiences that mimic the physical world.
The next evolution of the web will enable experiences beyond the confines of flat screens – expanded virtual spaces where users can explore products and services up close from any angle. Imagine shopping for a car in VR and inspecting all its 3D-rendered details as you would in the showroom.
Similarly, other industries and domains, such as education, entertainment, health, tourism, etc., could benefit from the use of VR and 3D technologies to create more immersive and realistic web experiences.
Planning Immersive Experiences
The key ingredient for 3D website success is to align the experience with the strategic goals and the intended audience from the start. Don’t force 3D in, but do it smartly.
Identify your primary persona groups and their needs. For example, target customers may desire a more tangible way to evaluate products, while prospects need an interactive aid to understand your offerings.
Evaluate which channels will best deliver on those goals. Desktop and mobile 3D can wow users through product configurators or virtual tours at a lower investment than emerging tech.
However, for goals like skills training or life-like product evaluation, the unmatched immersion of AR/VR may warrant the resources.
Outline required 3D assets and functionality tied to personas’ key tasks. For customers, 3D models that allow customizing and manipulating products to be viewed from all angles can boost confidence. For prospects, interactive demos of how your solution works can improve comprehension.
In the wireframing and storyboarding stages, focus on the optimal user flows and interactions that will fulfil those persona goals. Maintaining this purpose-driven approach ensures the resulting experiences deliver maximum delight and value.
I would say this is the most important first step before jumping into Execution.
When choosing a 3D web technology, there are several factors to consider, such as:
• Platform reach: The ability to reach and run on different browsers, devices, and operating systems. For example, WebGL has a high platform reach, as it is supported by most modern browsers and devices. Knowledge source – vev.design
• Learning curve: The difficulty and time required to learn and use the technology. For example, Flash has a steep learning curve, as it requires learning a specific programming language (ActionScript) and proprietary software (Adobe Flash) But as we talk today there are many No-Code platform coming up which makes 3D Integration much easier and faster,
take the example of Avataar Creator platform.
3D web technologies can enhance the user experience and engagement of web applications and websites by creating more realistic, immersive, and interactive environments.
However, 3D web technologies also pose some challenges and limitations, such as high bandwidth consumption, long loading times, low frame rates, and device overheating.
Therefore, optimizing 3D web technologies is essential to ensure the quality and efficiency of 3D web applications and websites.
Optimizing 3D web technologies involves various techniques and strategies, such as:
• Load main assets dynamically: This reduces the loading time and memory usage by loading 3D resources only when needed. For example, glTF supports streaming and progressive loading of 3D models
• Use efficient formats: This improves the web delivery and rendering of 3D models by choosing formats like glTF, which reduces the file size and processing time and supports various features.
• Optimize scenes: This enhances the rendering speed and performance by adjusting the complexity and quality of 3D scenes, such as reducing polygons, textures, lights, etc. For example, Vectary’s 3D scene analyzer can help optimize the 3D scenes.
• Test on mobile devices: This ensures the compatibility and usability of 3D web applications on different mobile devices, which have different capabilities and constraints than desktop devices. For example, xeokit can help test the 3D web applications on mobile devices.
The Spatial Frontier Awaits
Early pioneers like Nvidia’s Omniverse platform are showing how 3D workflows can unfold collaboratively in a shared virtual space. This lays the foundation for the next era of spatial computing.
Instead of being boxed into flat screens, experiences will permeate our physical surroundings through augmented and mixed-reality interfaces. Imagine browsing a website overlaid in your living room, grabbing and manipulating 3D models with your hands.
Emerging headsets like Apple’s AR glasses will blend digital elements into our environments. The web will shift from single viewers to shared immersive spaces where remote users interact together.
Just as cinema evolved from confined 2D screens to panoramic IMAX 3D theatres, the web expands into multidimensional experiences beyond static pages. As VR platforms like Meta’s Horizon Worlds showcase, virtual worlds know no physical bounds or gravity.
The possibilities for designing spatial sites purpose-built for natural user behaviours, such as glancing, grabbing, assembling, and exploring, are boundless. UX will quite literally add another dimension. The spatial future promises to take the web from flatlands to wonderlands.
With the launch of Humane, we’re getting a preview of the immersive spatial web of the future. This invisible CX platform blends digital interactions seamlessly into the physical world – overlaying data, instructions, and cues into our surroundings and conversations.
Humane provides a glimpse into how we’ll communicate, work, play and learn as the digital becomes integrated into the physical. It represents the shift to spatial computing where information flows freely across the digital-physical divide. We can look to Humane today to see the potential for reimagining experiences and interactions as the web evolves beyond screens.