Friday, 25 April 2008

3-D Virtual World vs. Usability

Today, I read an interesting and great food for thought article, referring to the future of usability and Information Architects in the 3-D Virtual World. According to the article’s writer, Sean D. Williams, 3-D virtual worlds, present usability professionals with a new set of challenges. As efficiently Williams asks,

what will happen when we, the information experts, don't control the information anymore? What happens when a community constructs the information about a product or task? And what happens when we can't organize information according to users' cognitive maps anymore because they can "fly" and literally see the entire information space at once?... Or Do our information architectures break down when the information becomes truly spatial rather than an abstract hierarchy that we can predict through a card sort?”

Williams points out two major differences between 2-D and 3-D environments in terms of information issues. The first is that we should think “users” as “participants” in 3-D environments and that the 3-D virtual world demands a different navigation paradigm as the information is spatial and not conceptual.

Another question is whether 3-D virtual worlds support user friendly navigation paths. Jakob Nielsen, 10 years ago, stated that 3-D environments are almost always bad in terms of navigation versus to 2-D environments and he still supports this statement in the "Four bad designs" article.

As world changes and we move from 2-D to 3-D environments we should try to find answers in questions as how we will break the spatial information down. Among others, I am eager to see how the world of information will be transformed in a few years!!

Image 1: Example of virtual environments

Image 2 : Example of 3-D virtual environment

No comments: