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Extended Reality (XR)

Your constantly-updated definition of Extended Reality (XR) and collection of topical content and literature

What is Extended Reality (XR)?

Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for any technology that alters reality by adding digital elements to the physical or real-world environment to any extent and includes, but is not limited to, augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR).

Any new technology that blends the physical and virtual world will also be categorized as XR. The “X” in XR stands for any variable—any letter of the alphabet—that may be used in the future for such technologies.

Three circles that overlap. From left to right: augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality. A big circle representing extended reality encompasses all the other circles.

The term XR includes AR, MR, VR, and any technology that blends the physical and the digital world.

© Laia Tremosa and the Interaction Design Foundation

Therefore, the term extended reality does not refer to any specific technology; it includes any existing or new technologies that may be created in the future that alter reality, either by blending the digital and the physical world or by creating a fully virtual environment.

User Experience (UX) Design for Extended Reality

UX design for XR experiences vastly differs from traditional UX design. UX for XR is not screen-bound and needs to take into consideration 3D spaces and the safety and physical comfort of the user. Although there are not a set of standardized guidelines yet, there are some proposed frameworks to set the bases for UX designers. The study Exploring User Experience Guidelines for Designing HMD Extended Reality Applications by the University of Cagliari (Vi, 2022) proposes the following guidelines:

  • Organize the spatial environment to improve efficiency.

  • Create flexible interactions and environments.

  • Prioritize users’ comfort.

  • Do not overwhelm the user.

  • Design around hardware capabilities and limitations.

  • Use cues to help users through their experience.

  • Create a compelling XR experience.

  • Build upon real-world knowledge.

  • Allow users to feel in control of the experience.

  • Allow for trial and error.

In the book UX for XR, Cornel Hillmann suggests that object-oriented UX methodology (OOUX) might be a good approach to solve design problems in the XR world. A typical UX process starts with user research and user flows and progresses to wireframes and mockups; therefore, it usually defines flows, interactions and features before defining the objects. OOUX breaks down the complexity of a design problem by focusing on the core content—the objects—first and then assigning actions to these objects. For example, using the OOUX design process, you would first focus on the button itself, and then you would assign an action to it. This approach has typically four phases:

  • Discover objects.

  • Define objects.

  • Establish relationships.

  • Force rank objects.

However, many more studies and research are needed to establish common standards and best practices for UX for XR.    

Learn More about Extended Reality

Learn how to design your own XR experiences with our course: How to Design for Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Watch the How To Influence Behavior Through Virtual Reality Narratives on-demand Master Class by VR pioneer Mel Slater.

To find out more about temptative guidelines for UX design in XR, read this paper: Vi, S. (2022). Exploring User Experience Guidelines for Designing HMD Extended Reality Applications. 

For inspiring insights about UX for XR, read the book UX for XR by Cornel Hillmann.

Literature on Extended Reality (XR)

Here’s the entire UX literature on Extended Reality (XR) by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Extended Reality (XR)

Take a deep dive into Extended Reality (XR) with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .

If you’ve heard the term user experience design and been overwhelmed by all the jargon, then you’re not alone. In fact, most practicing UX designers struggle to explain what they do!

“[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites,’ or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything — it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.”

— Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience,” in an interview with NNGroup

As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you.

In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.

You will learn to identify the overlaps and differences between different fields and adapt your existing skills to UX design. Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design. You’ll hear from practicing UX designers from within the IxDF community — people who come from diverse backgrounds, have taught themselves design, learned on the job, and are enjoying successful careers.

If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.

In the first lesson, you’ll learn what user experience design is and what a UX designer does. You’ll also learn about the importance of portfolios and what hiring managers look for in them.

In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer. This lesson also introduces you to the very first exercise for you to dip your toes into the cool waters of user experience. 

In the third and the fourth lessons, you’ll learn about the most common UX design tools and methods. You’ll also practice each of the methods through tailor-made exercises that walk you through the different stages of the design process.

In the final lesson, you’ll step outside the classroom and into the real world. You’ll understand the role of a UX designer within an organization and what it takes to overcome common challenges at the workplace. You’ll also learn how to leverage your existing skills to successfully transition to and thrive in a new career in UX.   

You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts. The experts we’ve handpicked for you are:

  • Alan Dix, Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, author of Statistics for HCI: Making Sense of Quantitative Data

  • Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London

  • Frank Spillers, Service Designer, Founder and CEO of Experience Dynamics

  • Laura Klein, Product Management Expert, Principal at Users Know, Author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups

  • Michal Malewicz, Designer and Creative Director / CEO of Hype4 Mobile

  • Mike Rohde, Experience and Interface Designer, Author of The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking

  • Szymon Adamiak, Software Engineer and Co-founder of Hype4 Mobile

  • William Hudson, User Experience Strategist and Founder of Syntagm

Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice.

You’ll find a series of exercises that will help you get hands-on experience with the methods you learn. Whether you’re a newcomer to design considering a career switch, an experienced practitioner looking to brush up on the basics, or work closely with designers and are curious to know what your colleagues are up to, you will benefit from the learning materials and practical exercises in this course.

You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.

You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume, LinkedIn profile or website.

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