Examples of Nomensa's UX design work for National Trust

Case Study: National Trust

Award-winning Virtual Reality

In October 2017 we scooped the Digital Innovation award at WireHive 100 for our Virtual Reality (VR) project with the National Trust.

We had already been experimenting with VR – interested particularly in its potential as a therapeutic application - so we jumped at the chance to work in this way.

The National Trust works hard to make sure their visitors’ experiences are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspiring enough that they want to support their cause. Breaking down any barriers to access to their sites for people with impairments had become a priority.

Identifying barriers

Firstly, we needed to identify the specific barriers to access. We visited a care home for adults, speaking to residents with learning disabilities and dementia, and their carers, listening to their stories and understanding their needs and fears. They talked about the calming effect of walking in gardens, how it allowed memories to resurface and the lucid moments that followed, and how they loved the country houses and historic landmarks steeped in history. 

The main issues they faced were:

  • Ability to physically explore all terrains/floors or get wheelchairs into tight spaces
  • Perception that the National Trust might not cater to their needs or interests
  • The time available for carers to take them
  • Getting to locations and the financial cost of travelling with a group

Creating a UX design solution that works

Working closely with the National Trust, we created a VR solution that emulated the experience of exploring a property in a realistic way, throwing open the doors of their properties to anyone, across the world, regardless of impairments.

We chose to use WebVR as our platform because it is easily discoverable online; there is no installation or software required outside the browser and it can be viewed on any device. Users get a 2D experience through mobile, tablet and desktop. A VR headset allows users a more immersive 3D 360 experience. Even without a low cost Mobile VR viewer (like Google Cardboard) people would still be able to enjoy the experience on a big screen. Some of the people we spoke to were nervous of having things on their face or had trouble locating themselves in space without visual references, so this was important.

Bringing VR to life

The location we chose to bring to life with VR was Killerton House; an 18th Century landmark in the Devon countryside, packed with historic connections. We spent time there, interviewing staff to gather stories, sounds and images for our VR environment. Back at the studio we used a new WebVR framework, A-Frame. This allowed us to build VR experiences within the browser using HTML and Javascript technologies. We used the 360 images to create an environment, then within this 3D space we made trigger points around the house and grounds to initiate additional pictures, text and sound effects.

We took the finished Web VR experience back to the care home for feedback. It created quite a buzz! They reported feelings of immersion, enrichment and relief from anxiety as they explored the nooks and crannies of Killerton. 

The National Trust could now offer inclusive experiences, dissolving all barriers to their properties, widening their reach, raising their profile and forming deeper connections with their audience around the world. What’s more, this is a vital demonstration of the importance of embracing VR technology to improve the quality of lives for those living with impairments across the world. 

To find out how Nomensa can help with your next UX design project, contact us on +44 (0)117 929 733, email us on hello@nomensa.com or complete a Contact Us form.

Nomensa has helped to make National Trust accessible to all, allowing us to create deeper connections with immersive digital experiences. We're extremely proud of our project and for it to be recognised by WireHive as best in class is a testament to all the hard work put in by our team.

Examples of Nomensa's UX design work for National Trust