Before Creating a virtual tour

Ok. Lets say you want to create a virtual tour.
These are points that help you create a better virtual navigation experience:

Have a scenario

you should have scenario in mind. Just like a movie director. You need to decide how user enters your subject and how you want to guide them through your subject.
You need to think where you stand to take the photos and give the best navigation experience to users.
for instance you can start from outside and take your sequence of shots and select pathways to cover the areas you want to cover. or just show a clickable map that shows different details about each section.

Keep it simple

We all saw fancy complicated navigations in virtual tours. But remember all these cool features will be useless and frustrating on a mobile screen. and only annoys your users and make them leave. So remember to keep it simple.

Avoid panoramas

Yes, avoid panoramas. Although taking a panorama with your smartphone seems easy, Those panoramas are usually very low quality. For shooting a good panorama you need to take a bunch of pictures in a constant aperture and shutter speed. and stitch them together using softwares like microsoft ICE. And even when you get a good panorama in %95 of cases your panorama won’t cover what you want, the way you want it, since you are bound to one location for showing everything. Also it covers a lot of stuff that you don't necessarily want to cover. this only confuses the user and make them lost. Specially on small screens.
So we only recommend panoramas for spaces that you want to cover the whole horizon and all things you want to show should be relatively in same distance and facing toward central point. otherwise you will be better off with just scenes. We saw many virtual tours that failed because of using panoramas and not engaging people. Thats why I strongly advise against it unless you are a professional photographer and your subject is very suitable for panorama pictures.

Keep your camera in landscape mode

This one is quite easy but many people make this mistake. In 99% of cases, your virtual tour is a landscape frame. Keeping your camera in portrait mode will leave you with big gaps in some frames. If you have a narrow pathway, a wide lense in camera could improve the result.

Plan ahead

Know what you want to do before taking the photos. Try to plan ahead Think about best condition before going to actual place.

  • What’s the best light for taking photos? you don’t wanna end up with long shadows in your frames.
  • when your subject is not crowded? if you want to include people in your virtual tour, are they around when you want to take the photos?
  • Do you think you need a tripod? remeber. Any digital camera is enough. but better photos make a better virtual tour.

Consider user transition

You want your users to feel in place. When you selecting your transition points, try to keep some of the visual surrounding common between two shots. This way users understand transition better, and won't confuse or feel lost.

Add a simple map or plan

Adding a simple plan creates an alternative way of navigation in your virtual tour. you can use an independent scene as plan or include an small plan in each scene.

So the main points are:

  • Have a scenario
  • Keep it simple
  • Avoid panoramas unless you have experience with them and you sure its your best option
  • Keep your camera on landscape mode
  • Plan ahead before taking the photos and prepare everything you need
  • Create nice transitions between scenes
  • Add an interactive plan

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