Charlie Sutton – Designing for Virtual Reality

BY Julie Stanescu ON JULY 28, 2017

For product designers, most of their work of the last ten years has been for a glass rectangle of some form (smartphone, laptop, smartwatch). In the next decade, it’s like their work will increasingly be on a canvas that is larger, more immersive and distributed – and possibly even autonomous in behavior. What is the role of a designer in this world?

Charlie Sutton is a Product Design Manager at Facebook working on VR and immersive experiences. For more than 15 years, Charlie has led teams creating new products and services, with a focus on interaction design for mobile devices. His career at Apple, Nokia, and Samsung has covered a diverse range of experiences – from smartphones, laptops and tablets – to sensors, location platforms and augmented reality. Charlie is also passionate about design education, and is currently a Senior Lecturer at California College of the Arts.

In this talk, Charlie takes a single design principle that they use at Facebook when designing for VR, and digs into what that means for the future from a product design perspective.

What Happens When There are no More Rectangles?

What’s really exciting about this new screen zero world is that we’re designing for a “media-evoked” reality, where the thing that matters the most is amplifying human agency. You’re no longer dealing with constrained screens and this creates very interesting opportunities for product people. Specifically, new modes of interaction, and the agency you’re giving to people – the sense of control of the virtual world and what makes people feel immersed.

How do we Design for Future User Interfaces?

Designing for the future user interfaces requires three unusual design skills to come together to design fully immersive experiences.

  1. A cinematic understanding of how to build an environment and a mood that transports people to places.
  2. Knowledge of interaction or game mechanics of virtual worlds, with a focus on keeping people excited, and making something learnable and discoverable.
  3. An appreciation that mobility will provide utility and feasibility to VR interfaces, and help make that a complete experience.

The product challenge is to be able to mash all three fields together to achieve the goal, and in this talk Charlie explores ways you can use the power of agency to design for future user interfaces.

Julie Stanescu

About

Julie Stanescu

Julie is a multi-disciplinary digital product designer based in San Francisco, and organizer of Product Tank San Francisco. Today she’s responsible for designing flows, systems, and interactions, and defining how people experience, and use digital products. In addition, she’s actively involved in the product design community in SF, enabling the full potential in other people through mentoring product/UX designers, teaching, and hosting events.

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