In 2016, WordPress introduced VR, 360° photos and 360° videos essentially allowing users to create and publish VR content on their sites. While this news may not have been a pioneering development, since webmasters could already add VR functionality via a plugin, it was still a big deal. Native VR compatibility for all WordPress sites meant that VR could soon become ubiquitous.
Fast forward to 2018 and VR content hosted on WordPress has gone into widespread use. According to Statista, the number of active VR users is projected to hit 171 million by the end of 2018. And, this number only refers to users who use VT headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Google DayDream. The VR market is projected to grow exponentially with revenues from both hardware and software expected to exceed $5 billion by the end of 2018.
What’s fueling this growth?
Well, as opposed to the past when virtual reality was more of a gamer’s thing, it is now much more practical than that. Essentially, users can experience a 3D product, space or even play around with “what if” scenarios through their browser or mobile app and, they don’t even have to own a VR headset to do so for the experience.
Google Streets Maps View is probably one of the best examples of the practical use of web-based VR. Simply by typing in an address and dropping a marker, one can “walk around” the virtual version of a real street.
Let’s look at some of the ways VR is being used on WordPress sites.
1. 3D Tours and Virtual Reality:
Gone are the days when tour companies and real estate firms had no way of letting potential customers sample the product without actually consuming it. Virtual Reality is allowing webmasters in these industries to give their users immersive experiences. Users can experience luxury homes or exotic holidays all from the comfort of their home or office. This adds an extra layer of content to an existing detail page that already contains a description, high-res images and high-def videos. This increased engagement moves the customer faster down the sales funnel.
2. Virtual Model Tools:
Virtual model tools allow users to try on clothing, sunglasses and other personal accessories without having to visit a brick and mortar store. This isn’t about slapping an image of the item on your body or face, it’s about getting to see how stylish the item looks on you from all angles.
Cool stuff, right?
As I see it, there are several clear-cut cases for virtual reality in WordPress at the moment, they include:
e-commerce websites that want to showcase 360° product views or provide their customers with the ability to try on items before making a purchase.
Automakers that want customers to be able to test drive cars or check all aspects of a car before making a purchase.
Real estate firms that want to provide virtual property tours.
The travel and hospitality industry that want potential customers to have an up-close experience.
Entertainment and news websites that want to increase engagement with on-the-scene 360° content.
Companies that want to show their customers a behind-the-scenes view.
Virtual training of employees on company intranets
3. Adding VR Content to WordPress:
So, how do you add VR content to a WordPress site? The first thing you need is to take 360° Photos. This can be achieved using a 360° camera app for your smartphone. For example, Google Street View app, that’s available for Android and iOS, allows you to take 360° images and videos. You can also use 360° dedicated hardware to take your photos and videos.
Once you have your 360° photos and/or images, there are several methods you can use to augment VR content on your posts.
4. Embed Using the VR Shortcode:
The fastest way to add VR content to a WordPress post or page is to upload your 360° photos and/or videos, decide if you want to present it as 360° or cinema (panorama) mode and then publish using the special “VR” shortcode.
5. Use a Plugin:
If you shortcodes are not your thing, there are several free and premium WordPress plugins that help you add VR content simply uploading the content and clicking a “Publish” button. Some premium VR plugins are actually able to achieve a bit more, for example, create hotspots within the images or videos, or animations.
6. The Take-Away:
If you own a WordPress site, you are no doubt always looking for new ways to impress your web visitors. Before you consider deploying VR on your site, you need to consider three issues:
1.First, is there a VR experience that would make sense for your business/site?
2.How much will it cost you to create such an experience?
3.How much time is needed to add the VR elements on your site?
Once you have the above clear in your mind, by all means, just right in. It’s clear that when applied correctly, VR on WordPress has a host of benefits that include:
Immersive experiences not provided by other media.
VR in WordPress doesn’t need special hardware or apps to be accessed. The user simply needs a mouse to scroll or swipe through the VR experience with their finger.
Viewers have more control over content.
Potential customers can conveniently try out a product or service.
VR content appeals to millennial tech-savvy users. This is by far the biggest market on the planet.
VR content increases engagement, reduces bounce rates and is great for SEO.
Boosts your credibility as a business or site owner.
Given all these benefits and the simplicity of adding VR content on your site, there isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t be using it on your WordPress site.
Have you tried out VR on your WordPress site? How did it work out for you? Please share your experience with us in the comments section below and visit virtualrealityexp.co.uk to hire and try it out for yourself.