This project had a tight schedule and nobody knew what we would end up building. So throughout the process, we worked carefully with the team to ensure everyone was involved and aligned with the mission.
Our Problem Statement
How might hosting real-time, synchronous 3D content through pixel-streaming open up new value structures between 3D creators and their community?
Where to position our product in the Metaverse landscape?
Which community do we want to serve?
What unique value proposition we have and what need do we want to address?
We started by auditing the Metaverse landscape and looked at everything from virtual galleries, Spatial.io, Roblox, Decentraland and some other platforms both on desktop and mobile.
We identified a lot of challenges both for users and artists, such as exclusive community culture, long wait times for content and empty expansive landscapes. Even some established platforms have accessibility issues.
Why should short-form content be limited to videos or photos?
The emergence of easy-to-use 3D tools and game engines has fostered a large number of creators capable of creating interactive content, both professional and amateur. But sharing on existing public-facing platforms ditches their works' interactivity.
Therefore, we decided to define our product as a short-interactive-content-sharing platform for individual creators that allows viewers to experience their creative work without any friction.
The production of the most commonly known digital interactive content, such as those fancy video games or massive social Metaverse, requires collective effort and a lot of development resources. Small teams or individual creators take great risks in creating those long experiences. And from content consumers' point of view, the download speed and device limits make the experience unattainable.
To understand the needs of 3D content creators, we reached out to content creators whose works we regard as a good fit for SWIK, including NFT artists, creative coders, Indie game developers, and animators.
We conducted one-on-one interviews with the following research goals:
Learn 3D content creators' familiarity and willingness in creating interactive content and short-form content
Learn their opinions towards the existing platforms and the ways they use them
Learn the dynamics between content creators and their audience and their creator community
We synthesized all research material and turn them into our user archetype. This archetype helped us narrow down the type of content creators we want to serve and impress.
Based on our research outcomes, we drafted the Value Proposition Canvas to inform the team of what we need to focus on. With limited time and development resources, we need to make sure that every feature we include in the MVP is crucial to the overall value proposition we present to the intended audience.
We created the information architecture of the MVP and included all the features that we regard as essential for showcasing the potential of the platform and relevant to our business metrics.
We iterated the screen design from low-fidelity to high-fidelity based on usability testing insights. And after delivering the design, we worked closely with the engineering team to make sure the implementation is pixel-perfect.
The user can scroll vertically to browse the experiences hosted on SWIK and learn about their creators
All experiences are in the portrait orientation. The user can use the virtual joysticks to move around and look around the space
The user can click on the top right button to exit the experience and write feedback for the experience creator
"This is really fun but I don't know how to use those two joysticks"
Based on our usability testing outcome, the default navigation control seems to have quite a learning curve for new users.
To find out a better navigation control mode, I created some functional prototypes in Unity3D and tested a couple of solutions before handing over the design to the engineering team.
Since our target audience is not pro-gamers but people who have little 3D experience and may have never held a gamepad before. Therefore we regulated all experiences to be in portrait orientation because they are casual, have simple control, and can be accessed at any time and any place.
The camera always follows player's facing direction when the player navigates the space with the Moe Joystick.
Use accelerometer to detect phone-tilting and rotate the camera accordingly
Testing and prototyping
We tested those navigation models with some people who had never used a gamepad before, and we found the one-hand control that utilizes the phone accelerometer is the easiest to learn. However, after communicating with the engineering team, not all browsers support access to the phone accelerometer. So eventually we took a step back and decided on a design that works on all browsers and phones.
Since we kept minimum UI elements to preserve the immersiveness of the experience, for users especially those new to 3d experience to quickly learn to navigate the space, we created a short onboarding experience showing them how to use the UI control.
"But it looks like TikTok which uses Instagram's color"
Our test participants informed us that our previous color palette is really close to Instagram’s brand so we updated our product's branding to create a refreshing experience for new users.
Our visual language aims to appeal to the creative community and it should create a breathable and low-key edgy vibe with a concise and scalable scheme. So we collected different references to figure out a style that fully displays the characteristics of our product.
The dark color theme was derived on the basis of the experience's immersive and entertaining characteristics. Our iconic neon green hinted at the technology behind the platform and the promising future it holds. We also created a series of custom flat icons to support its techie style.
I was tasked with creating social media visuals for SWIK's announcement and release. Visual language is based on the extracted keywords of the platform: Mobile, Playfulness, and 3D experience.
We are currently on track to launch the MVP by the end of September. We are developing the last few functions and doing the final QA. Follow us on Twitter @SWIKSPACE or join our Discord https://discord.gg/6fNV4uNYux for more information.