If you are a designer, developer, create or look after one or more brands, sell anything online, or in any other way engage with digital technologies you will remember the disruption that mobile devices caused, and how we are still learning to cope with them.
If you don’t remember here’s a quick recap of what happened.
Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone. The first device you could put in your pocket, one that everybody wanted to own, that had anywhere anytime connectivity to the web with a full and complete web browser. It came out of nowhere, and although nowadays people won’t admit it, we had no idea what to do with it and in many ways we still don’t.
The disruption that first smartphone brought about is still with us, just as strong. But they pale into nothing compared to what virtual reality is going to deliver.
I am entirely confident when I say that nobody, not one person alive today, knows the full breadth of disruption that virtual reality is going to deliver. If you are one of the people in the first paragraph of this piece, you are nowhere near ready for it. But it is here.
VR and AR (twins with different outlooks on life) are going to replace the mobile phone. They will replace the laptop and desktop screens. They will replace the tablet computer. They will replace contact lenses. They will, along with the hardware that runs them, change every aspect of how we interact with digital technologies. And as an extension they will change how we work, learn, play, relax, and experience the world.
And this is great. This is exactly what our industry needs. A new renaissance. A new movement. A reason for us to abandon our stubborn and tired old ways and embrace something new. Forced or not, this can only be good. Why?
Because we need to stay relevant. We need to stay vibrant. Google search has replaced 90% of what a standard website must do. Where are you, when are you open, how do I get to you or contact you, what do people think of you, and all that other generic information about you is already online on a service that everyone alive is using already. So why spend a load of money building it again when a Google Plus account (yes, it still exists) is all you need?
The reality is that a website can and must do more. A website is the largest touchpoint with any audience you can ever have, so make the damn thing fun! Make it exciting. Make it roar! Make it be fluent in the language of your audiences, which is no longer static and conservative pages of text but dynamic storytelling experiences that grab your customers by their emotional cores and shakes them back to life again.
Is this now, am I saying replace the sites we all know with 3D VR experiences built in game engines. Hell no! I’m saying be ready for it, because it is around the corner and the tools and thinking required to build this stuff is hard. The design is hard. The thinking is hard. The content is hard.
We didn’t know the iPhone was coming and we were caught with our arses out. But we know that AR and VR are coming, we have no excuse.
The artwork at the top of this post belongs to Florian de Gesincourt,