BBC R&D wanted to understand how real users interact with mobile AR applications in order to inform work towards developing a BBC platform for publishing mobile AR content. The BBC had already released AR Civilisations, an educational AR app for exploring historical artefacts from around the world, and allowing users to bring the museum experience into their home.

This being the organisations first foray into mobile AR, the BBC wanted to understand how well the various elements of the the experience worked in terms of being discoverable, usable and useful, and to translate this knowledge into a set of design guidelines for other mobile AR apps that follow.

Create a set of UX guidelines based on user research to guide the design of future mobile AR experiences

What we did

Threesixty put together a research plan that involved 12 target Android and iOS users downloading and trying BBC Civilisations AR for a week before coming in for one-to-one lab based sessions to run through each part of the app in detail.

The research was designed to understand how the users ended up using the app in practice: how often, in what situations and with whom; as well as understanding the issues that negatively impacted the AR user experience.

An important characteristic of our sample was that they were all digitally savvy, but new to AR, and early adopters were specifically excluded.

The sample also included 2 users with access needs, including one who who was blind, but nonetheless interested in trying AR. Although, many mobile AR apps today are not designed to be accessible for blind users, we uncovered a number of opportunities for how these immersive experiences can become more inclusive in the future.


Following the research, we produced a detailed set of guidelines to illustrate what does and doesn’t work well with mobile AR, assuming a similar type of mobile AR experience is replicated for other topics.

The guidelines cover important UX topics for AR such as detecting surfaces, guidance for first time users, manipulating 3D objects, optimising for common contexts, use of audio and haptic feedback, overlaying interactive elements in AR, balancing AR and traditional 2D interactions and AR accessibility.

These guidelines are being used by design teams around the BBC to inform the design of mobile AR experiences.

The research also highlighted typical mobile AR use cases, and opportunities to better align mobile AR experienced with people’s everyday lives and activities.

These insights are being used to select and plan which experiences should be explored with AR next.


Civilisations AR



What We Did

Usability testing and UX recommendations

Some really great learnings for future projects.

David JohnstonSenior Product Manager VR/AR, BBC