Virtual Reality for Websites: Is VR All it’s Cracked Up to Be? - V3 Media

Have you already heard about virtual reality? Also known as VR, virtual reality is slowly but surely becoming an increasingly popular tech tool in the eyes of business owners. You’re most likely to see it as an innovative means of generating interest such as these methods described by Inc.com. VR is very popular right now for a reason: it allows people to see a new reality without actually having to travel past their computer, or without paying for a product or service first.

While VR is not one of our services at V3, it’s still a good idea to stay informed about the latest technology has to offer as we’ve already mentioned in our previous blog post about chatbots. So, let’s go over this latest and newest trend that some business have already installed in their company (and in a few cases their websites) and figure out if this trend is all it’s cracked up to be.

First of all, what is VR?

Virtual reality is the name branded to a new software that places people into a three-dimensional, simulated environment. In order to view this artificial world, you must use a headset with a special lens to view and experience it. Ideally, it allows you to experience the scene from a 360 degree perspective. The technology also makes use of other artificial senses such as touch, sight, and sound. In addition to virtual reality, new tech using augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) have been appearing more and more in businesses.

If you are wondering the differences, here they are: augmented reality allows you to add digital elements to the environment. You may already have experienced AR by using social media on your phone, because the platforms use AR every day, such as Instagram’s filters when you use their Stories or other features. Virtual reality, in contrast, is a wholly immersive experience that allows you to interact with digital worlds. Mixed reality, or MR, combines the best of both augmented and virtual realities into one scenario where both real-world and digital objects interact with each other. While all of these technologies are fascinating developments, for now we’ll talk about VR since it’s the most widely discussed of the three.

VR has actually been around longer than you may realize. Prototypes of virtual reality projects were launched years ago but failed then because the technology was so new that people weren’t ready for it. Now, we are, and VR headsets such as the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift, the Samsung Gear, and even the Google Cardboard are available on the market for those who want to browse VR online. Tech design studios using VR technology have also been increasing in use across North America. Even Google and Firefox have launched browser features that enable users to explore the Internet with VR. And now, we’re starting to see it used, slowly but surely, on business’s websites.

Pros of VR for Business Owners and their Websites

  • Convenience to the shopper. For example, if you want to buy a home or a certain product but don’t have time to view it in person, you can use VR to view the home from the outside and inside without having to leave your own home, or check out the product in action without having to go a long distance to see it. This makes shopping online all the more convenient to those who are serious about following through with their purchase. The greater the VR experience, the more likely you will see customers finalizing their sales with your company, whether it’s real estate or retail.
  • You’ll know what you get when you pay for it. VR may be an artificial reality, but it’s still based on the person’s view of real-time things such as environments and objects, so you know exactly what to expect. This follow-through with informing the customer of the item they’re looking to buy can in fact generate trust between them and you. There’s no risk of purchasing something online without knowing the condition it’s going to be in when it’s delivered via mail to them—a risk that many have complained about when it comes to online shopping in general. VR removes that risk by allowing the customer to see exactly what they are paying for, and if it doesn’t show up the way it should, they will know why and their issue can be resolved faster.
  • You show your knowledge as a business owner. Those who use VR at its most effective understand the technology that is required to heighten the customer’s level of a positive shopping experience and even exceed their expectations.
  • You generate interest in your business. By using the latest that technology has to offer, you stand out from other companies who have yet to initiate the usage of said technology, thus generating interest in customers you would never have considered it was possible to reach out to.

Cons of VR for Business Owners and Websites

  • The tech is still new. Like we said with chatbots, the newer the technology is, the more likely bugs and other glitches can occur, especially if you decide to add it to your website and it’s improperly installed in the first place. Also, if it is improperly installed, you’ll end up with an even more expensive project on your plate to get it fixed!
  • The tech is expensive—even to customers. VR tech such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift range in cost from $279-700 in price alone for customers—some devices go all the way up to $1,800 on Amazon! For that price alone you can afford to pay for a new website, and then some.
  • It’s still not real. No matter how you examine VR, it can only give you one person’s perspective on what a certain brand, area, etc. is like—and that doesn’t mesh with reality itself, because everyone’s point of view is so unique when it comes to that sort of thing. What you may see in VR will not be the same experience you have in real time.
  • It’s not meant for everyone to use. VR is notorious for causing motion sickness to occur for many people who are sensitive to it. By implementing VR without considering this factor, you could be shutting out some of your most valuable and loyal customers by accident because they don’t want to get sick—simple as that!
  • There are extra steps for customers to take. In order to view any VR features on a website, a customer needs to have several extra features set up in their browser, otherwise the technology on the website won’t work on the customer’s computer. VR on a website may not even be compatible on mobile phones—something which your website does need to be compatible with (find out more reasons why your site needs to be compatible today).

Is VR Worth the Time and Cost for My Business?

If you are part of a certain industry that may benefit from using VR on your website, and you also know how the tech part works, then by all means use it. That being said, there may be several reasons as to why your business’s website is not ready for virtual reality:

  • Your site’s platform doesn’t support VR tech. Sure, Google and Firefox have added VR options to their browsers recently, but that doesn’t mean your website is automatically compatible with those features. Compatible tech has to be added during a site’s development, and those features may not even be available right now, because of the next point:
  • Your budget isn’t big enough for VR, or you’re just starting up. You should have a great website that works in the first place if you’re only starting up. Before you go adding new tech like chatbots and VR, your budget needs to be used for online marketing—otherwise no one will know about your business and you’ll get none of the sales you wanted in the first place!
  • It overcomplicates the reason you need a website at all. There are a lot of reasons why people use websites, which you can explore here in our article. Adding VR may overcomplicate the reason people are coming to your business in the first place, meaning they may not follow through with the goals you had in mind for your website, thus the results are low sales and interest.
  • You haven’t updated or maintained your website yet. Again, this is another important task to do before you go adding new tech or features. If your site hasn’t been updated in the past 10 years, then stop reading this post and get help with your website, pronto!

Before you go and get yourself obsessed with adding VR to your business and even the website, maybe think about putting your customers first and making your site usable instead. If your site needs proper maintenance and care, give us a call at V3 Media. We can guarantee that your website will work and run smoothly when it’s done—regardless of the latest tech you want to add to it.