6 User Experience Must-Haves in WebRTC

November 23, 2015

The focus on real-time communications as of late has centered much on the capabilities of WebRTC. The open source foundation of a browser agnostic technology promises to enable connectivity for voice, video and data in ways we could only previously accomplish with expensive software or challenging plug-ins.

A recent Developer Boards post by AT&T highlights the obstacles that have been removed now that WebRTC is going mainstream. This means you now need less to establish a connection with someone else and the peer-to-peer model is preferred. As the web was originally intended to be open, decentralized and as accessible as possible, WebRTC follows the same trend, doing the same for real-time communications.

Still, even technology with this kind of promise has to fit into the user experience. Something that is complicated to use or difficult to navigate will quickly turn away all but the most savvy in the use of specialized applications. WebRTC aims to achieve the exact opposite for all users, which is why before implementing the technology or launching an app supported through WebRTC foundations, there are six key user experience elements that must be considered.

Image via Pixabay

Kudos to AT&T for setting the pace with WebRTC in an industry that tends to favor the proprietary approach. Let’s examine these six key user experience elements you need to remember:

User workflow – we don’t like change, especially when we think something is working. Understand how the user is most likely going to use your app and where they would launch a video or voice call. Make that flow natural and seamless.

Existing obstacles – is there anything in the design that eliminates the ability to begin a video or voice call at any time? Be sure any conditions around the user experience are very clear to the user so as to avoid surprises.

Shared experiences – it’s important to design the app around sharing. Determine how users will be notified of the session or invited to participate. Look for opportunities to use familiar patterns and the potential to overcome disabled notifications.

User destinations – be sure to clearly define where users will be sent at each step of the process and remember the user may want to still use information they pulled up on the screen. Allow them to navigate quickly and easily.

Mistakes happen – what’s your plan if something goes wrong? It’s important to plan for things you don’t expect so you know what the user will experience when it happens. Make this as easy and seamless as possible.

Consistency – the consistent experience is critical if you want to see user success and the ongoing use of your app. Even if the user is leveraging a different function within the app, don’t change the interface or the experience or they will quickly abandon.

Remember, new technologies offer a lot of promise, as long as you keep the user experience in mind. As soon as it is no longer a priority, you run the risk of becoming obsolete. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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