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What is the Metaverse and what does it mean for website design?

15/11/2021

Facebook have recently changed their name to ‘Meta’ following the announcement of their latest venture, the Metaverse (short for ‘meta-universe’). This is expected to entirely reshape how we use the web, as virtual and augmented experiences will merge with reality in a digital universe. It has even been speculated this could become the successor to the web!

What is the Metaverse?

The concept of a digital universe isn’t new and there are some digital universes already in existence, however, most of these universes are within the realm of virtual reality gaming. Facebook’s Metaverse on the other hand will have the capacity to play a role in everything we do, from socializing to working.

Currently, when we want to access the web we’ll use our phones or open up a laptop, and while there are increasingly more devices that connect to the internet it is largely an isolated experience. Once we’re done, we close our laptop, turn off our phone, and we’re disconnected. The Metaverse aims to change this, blurring the lines between the web and reality.

The Metaverse will be accessed through headsets or augmented reality glasses, which will transport the user to a 'doppelgänger' universe. Here, every user will have their own avatar that can socialize with people they know and even those they don’t. Facebook's dream is for the Metaverse to enable people to do as many of the things they can do in real life, in this digital universe. For example, your avatar could go to a virtual concert, go on holiday, buy digital cars, houses and clothing, the possibilities are endless. The Metaverse is also expected to be a game-changer for office jobs and remote working, instead of video calling colleagues from home we could join one-another in a 3D virtual office, all sit round virtual desks and even attend virtual meetings with people who are 1000s of miles away.

What does the Metaverse mean for web design?

A de facto, fully fledged metaverse has not been developed yet, and the version people like Mark Zuckerberg speaks about still requires technology that is yet to be invented. It is no surprise therefore that to many of us, the concept still feels so surreal it could be straight out of a sci-fi film. So why should we care about this futuristic piece of software? Although the completion of the Metaverse itself is far off, VR and AR technologies are creeping into our online experiences more and more, and now with Zuckerberg’s announcement it is inevitably going to become the next big thing. Additionally, Facebook are not the only company that have started building a metaverse. Decentraland for example is an existing 3D reality universe, and companies like EPIC Games have plans for building a metaverse of their own.

With all these companies racing to build a metaverse, it is likely the way we currently use the web will eventually evolve, and websites as we know them will be completely different. For many online business owners, these new technologies might feel frivolous or risky to invest in as they are so new; and yet, whilst this concept is only just appearing on the distant horizon, it does feel somewhat inevitable that our digital futures are likely to exist in some form of metaverse. As the conversation develops, we hope to keep you up-to-date on the opportunities for business owners in this emerging digital world.

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