AltSpace VR Usability Study

Over the course of two testing days consisting of 60 minute study sessions using Samsung HMD Odyssey VR headset at Microsoft’s Headquarters, our team recruited 6 participants of three virtual reality experience levels to talk through three onboarding and introductory scenarios in the metaverse. These scenarios included (1) sign up and tutorial, (2) navigation to a Hub Space, as well as (3) finding an event to attend.

Study Objective

The goals of usability testing include establishing a baseline of user performance, establishing and validating user performance measures, and identifying potential design concerns to be addressed in order to improve the efficiency, productivity, and end-user satisfaction onboarding and executing in AltspaceVR.

Research Questions

In particular, the objective of this study was to identify whether AltspaceVR’s visual design, interaction design, and technical communication is inviting and clear to new users and identify any barriers to entry. This was laid out in the following research questions:


Over six, 60-minute usability study sessions on-site at Microsoft HQ with a Samsung HMD Odyssey VR headset, each participant worked through the task path with the objective being to see if there are differences in ease of use for Novice vs. Experienced users. The task sequences were randomized to mitigate the effects of learning transfer.


Findings were grouped into emergent themes as presented below. One theme that is worth highlighting is harassment because while it was not something I anticipated coming up in a test focused on onboarding, it's impact is staggering.

Insights and Recommendations

Categorized following the themes from the "findings" section, the following depicts evidence and rationale for the insights gathered as well as recommendations for improvement.


My team and I created a thorough study plan which organized our time, responsibilities, transitions, and deliverables.

It is unfortunate that less than two minutes into the metaverse, one of our participants was subject to harrassement. While our study was focused on onboarding users intro the metaverse through AltSpaceVR, I did not anticipate running into safety issues this early in the experience. This was a reality check for myself, my team, and the teams we shared our findings with.

My first reaction was to report this, which our participant did while pointing out it the process is like "throwing a letter in a bucket. You don't know if it will actually be addressed" revealing a need for more intentional safety measures from an inclusion lens.