Are Virtual Tours As Revolutionary As We Think They Are?

As expert creators of Virtual Tours you might expect our answer to be a resounding ‘YES!!’ (with confetti flying and a band playing in the background). Being honest. Looking at examples of virtual tours out there today, our response, for now, is more of a positive head-nod. ‘…they certainly can be’.

Thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic virtual services have exploded into many homes across the country. People have become reliant on virtual resources to provide them with experiences they are unable to access in person. For many, this is in the form of a virtual tour. Whether to look around a shop, ‘visit’ an attraction, review event venue layouts or get a feel for a new university.

With any new innovative service it is important to understand how effective it actually is. To understand if customers really do enjoy using it, and how much it’s revolutionising their experience of a brand. But one thing that has become clear in recent years, as virtual tours have become increasingly popular, is that too few are reflecting and asking these questions. Too few have realised that virtual tours might not be as well received as first thought and are in need of drastic updates.

Exciting times ahead – potentially!

The development in digital services has been exciting to watch. After years of trying to encourage organisations to invest in virtual products, the world has finally caught on. Businesses are beginning to confidently invest in virtual services. Services that are helping redefine brand identity and customer strategies.

What’s not been as exciting, is to see the range of virtual tours created with confusing menu settings, with glitching software, limitations on movement and complicated systems. A virtual service that should WOW a customer is instead frustrating them and having a negative impact on their user experience.

As experts in the field, this is hard to watch.

We’re not alone in our thinking either. The Neilson Norman Group, World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience has recently reported a disconnect between virtual tours and the user experience. From their research they suggest:

‘Virtual tours are occasionally useful… [and] most users find them to be high effort, slow, and of limited value.’ That ‘most virtual-tour software follows 1990s video-game interaction paradigms and is largely unsatisfying for many users.’ They even go on to conclude that ‘a virtual tour should be a secondary or tertiary source of information for users after high-quality still photography, well-written descriptions, and even traditional video tours.’

What has Circus done to address the problem?

At Circus we pride ourselves on the virtual content we create, especially our virtual tours. As specialists we too identified this issue and felt it was something we needed to address.

We have since created a robust team of UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) experts and have revolutionised traditional virtual tour models. Turning them into holistic Virtual Brand Experiences that are fit for purpose.

Rather than clunky software that slows a user down with limited guidance or poor menu options, our virtual tours are designed with a sophisticated user interface. They are mapped in a way that is easy to follow. They are simple yet effective. Designed with target markets in mind, and are accessible for all. With customised user interface that not only reflects the brand but also how it’ll be used in the real world. For example we investigate choice of software/app/web styles, mobile-first design, VR capabilities and accessibility compliance.

Our tours also provide a more detailed overview to enhance the user experience. Virtual tours with bespoke audio and visual effects, personal guides and clickable action points. Incorporating Call To Actions (CTAs) to make visual content work harder and offering integration with CRM systems.

Our Virtual Tours capture imagery that tells stories. Not just 360s of empty rooms but choreographing people to fill the spaces and bring them to life. They use more types of technology than ever before, to capture exciting visuals including drones for dramatic aerial views, 360 video for fully-immersive moving scenes and 3D models to provide alternate levels of exploration.

The goal

Our goal is to make virtual services like these more effective than the traditional high resolution image. More desirable than a stand alone promotional video. To make Virtual Tours an essential service that can enhance customer experiences. To show Neilson Norman Group (and the world) what a virtual tour should be like and how they can be a real game changer in the private and public sector.

Our Virtual Tours are revolutionary and some of the first of their kind, and we hope to lead by example in the field.

Take a look at some of our most recent projects here.

If you’re looking for more information on virtual tours, please contact our award-winning team. They’d be more than happy to help guide you through any questions or concepts.

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