Everything you need to get started with augmented reality

Design the User Experience

The design process starts by imagining how workers will use augmented reality to solve a problem. Start by understanding the process they currently follow. Next, sketch the future you envision with AR.

01. Map the user journey

In order to build a usable AR experience, you must understand the problem you’re trying to solve. Based on your use case, what will you design the AR experience to do? Who will use it?

The first step in the design process is to map the journey your future AR user takes to solve a problem. For example, if your AR experience will help service technicians repair a machine; study how the technicians perform the repairs today.

To map the user journey, observe the way the repair/process/inspection happens currently. Identify a frontline worker or group of workers to demonstrate it. Take photos, jot down notes, or sketch pictures of the process.

As you observe, pay attention to these details:

Who is doing the job: Document relevant details about the worker or type of worker who performs the repair/process/inspection.

  • How many workers do the job?
  • What expertise do they need?
  • Do they need approval from anyone else?

Where the job is being done: Document what the environment is like.

  • Is it noisy or quiet?
  • Is the space small or vast?
  • Is the environment brightly lit or dark?
  • Are there multiple rooms or spaces involved?
  • Does the worker move around the object as they work?
  • Does the worker have to pass 10 identical machines on their way to the machine they’re repairing?

How the process unfolds: Document all the steps the worker takes to solve the problem.

  • How do they get alerted to the problem?
  • What’s the first step to solve it?
  • How do they know when they’re finished?
  • How many steps are involved?
  • If the process takes 4 hours, does the technician need to take a break in the middle?

All of these factors and more will influence how you design and build the AR experience.

After observing the process, you may find you underestimated the complexity and scope of the process you’re designing for. Once you’ve done your research, you should have enough knowledge about the way things work to start designing.

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02. Storyboard the experience

Continue the design process by creating a storyboard for your ideal AR experience. A storyboard will illustrate how workers will use AR, step by step. It tells the story of a user or set of users who leverage AR to complete a task.

Before you sketch your storyboard, we recommend you view and interact with an AR experience of some kind. If you’re using an eyewear device for your AR experience, try it on. This will help you fully grasp what you’re designing.

Sketch your storyboard on a whiteboard, paper, or design it digitally. A graphic/user experience designer can help create a storyboard—however, design expertise is not required.

A storyboard specifies:

  • The steps and screens: Illustrate how the AR experience unfolds.
    • Draw a frame for each moment or interaction in the process, step by step.
    • Show the physical world, and the AR interactions.
    • Start with the moment the user becomes aware of the problem.
    • Sketch a frame for each screen the user is navigating through as they solve the problem.
  • Any necessary data: If your user needs real-time information as they solve the problem, include it. For example, if one of the screens shows the date and time the machine was last serviced, note that requirement. Later, you will connect to that data.
  • Tracking method: If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to decide your tracking method (model target or ThingMark, for example). The tracking method determines how users find and open the AR experience, and how it functions.

Storyboard example:

AR experience storyboard

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03. Map user interactions and flow

Using your storyboard, draw the sequence of screens for your AR experience. Namely, what the user can interact with at each moment and what happens next. The flow may be linear, from beginning to end. Or it may branch off, depending on what the user selects.

For example, you’ll likely have a “home” or “welcome” screen to start your AR experience. This screen may allow the user to start a repair or to exit the experience. List the sequence of screens that follows “Start Repair,” and also “Exit Experience.” From there, your flow diagram may extend and branch out further.

Did you find this helpful?

How PTC can help

In addition to the recommended resources named above, PTC offers Success Services that fit seamlessly into your Success Path, making it even easier to reach your desired business outcome.

Design, Development
Vuforia Studio Developer's Workshop
Advance your AR experience development in Vuforia Studio
Architect Mentoring
Augment your team’s efforts with help from a PTC Architect


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