Bridge the communication gap with high-quality visualizations.
Bridge the communication gap with high-quality visualizations.

Engagement from the entire spectrum of voices of a project is key for developing great design. However, achieving it can be challenging. Whether it’s complex drawings, dizzying data sets, or jargon-filled text descriptions, design professionals tend to communicate about projects in ways that are difficult for laymen to understand. So, what can we do to bridge the gap?

Incorporate real-time visualization into your workflow for better design communication.
Incorporate real-time visualization into your workflow for better design communication.

Leveraging the power of visualization

Fortunately, overcoming this communication disconnect simply requires the right tools. Visualization has proven to be an excellent tool for communicating design concepts clearly, improving comprehension, and thus, engagement.

This is largely because of how heavily our brains rely on visual input: 90% of all information transmitted to the brain is visual. Consequently, human brains have evolved to process images 60,000 times faster than text. When design information is presented visually, it is much more easily understood.

Four main modes of visualization are being used with great success in the design industry:

  • Virtual reality
  • Virtual assets
  • Immersive data experiences
  • Gamification

We’ll walk you through the basics of each, supported by detailed case studies that demonstrate how these visualization tools are major drivers of engagement in design.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has emerged as a total gamechanger in design. Professionals have the power to present their designs in as-built form, giving stakeholders and end users the most immersive preview possible.

Exploring a space using VR can be as comprehensible and engaging as exploring a space in reality. That’s because intuitive perception of scale and spatial relationships is easier in VR than other forms of visualization.

In 2017, researchers from MIT conducted an experiment in which participants had to design a sculpture garden—one using immersive VR and one using a desktop computer. Findings showed that the VR model achieved better intuitive perception of spatial relationships, so much so that even experienced designers had improved spatial understanding of the garden with VR versus the traditional 2D screen view.

VR helps users understand:

  • Presence
  • Spatial perception
  • Immersion
  • Interaction

Case Study: VR improves comprehension of complex site plan among client and buyers

The client was a developer prospecting a high-end planned community in the mountains, aiming to balance ecological preservation with development through high density. Natural views and privacy were of a high priority for the final design.

Stakeholders, especially the client and future homebuyers, needed to be able to understand the design implications before deciding to invest or buy. Using Enscape, a real-time visualization and VR tool, to create fully-immersive 3D models of the planned homes gave these stakeholders a chance to explore the design and obtain proof of concept with ease.

Create fully immersive 3D models with ease to win work.
Create fully immersive 3D models with ease to win work.

Virtual assets & entourage

In 2020, researchers from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, found exposure to natural elements in immersive virtual environments reduced negative mood in the same way as exposure to actual natural environments. This work proved that even in digital spaces, the quality of our surroundings is critical for our satisfaction with them.

Leveraging an appropriate entourage library can positively impact a viewer’s emotional response to spaces depicted in digital visualizations. The right collection of virtual assets engages audiences by demonstrating scale and scenario. This can include digital models of figures, furnishings, finishes, vegetation, and a variety of other objects specific to different use cases. By making designs appear more realistic, assets that match the intended use have a better chance of emotionally resonating with stakeholders and proving the design’s suitability.

Include life-like assets to resonate with stakeholders.
Include life-like assets to resonate with stakeholders.

Case Study: Using bespoke assets in visualizations engages stakeholders.

Using generic assets in 3D renderings can make designs fall flat. To foster a personal connection between the client and the design, renderings of an office space were outfitted with custom assets that more effectively showed how the design would function in the client’s everyday life. These personalized assets made it easier for the client to see the design as a realistic and comfortable space capable of accommodating their lifestyle.

Immersive data experiences

Standard data tables, graphs, and charts can come across as dry and dense. The monotony of this medium often makes it difficult to grasp data patterns and feel excited about the information conveyed.

This trend was confirmed in research done by the Technische Universität Dresden in Germany. The study found that users perceived spatial interaction as more supportive, comfortable, and overall preferable to traditional 2D visualizations.

Clearly, immersive viewing of datasets is key to contextual understanding. By breaking away from 2D conventions, designers can find ways to present data that not only makes data more comprehensible, but also makes it more interesting to explore.

Case Study: Interactive data experiences lead to increases engagement

In an effort to improve engagement for Chaos’ Internal Trends Newsletter, data graphics were given a complete 3D overhaul. Switching to this medium of presentation instantly saw results. View times increased by 800%, going from a mere 5 seconds to 45.


If designers can make design participation more game-like, engagement can rise significantly. Integrating game elements of role-play, challenges, levels, and reward into design activities has the potential to generate more stakeholder feedback—and of better quality, too.

Using gamification to put stakeholders in the role of the designer has proven to be a strong driver of engagement. In 2023, researchers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong investigated how digital gamified participatory design can be applied in decision making processes for planning public facilities.

Multiplayer virtual reality technologies were used to construct an immersive digital twin, and a series of community engagement games were organized to investigate residents’ opinions and needs. The research found that digital gamified participatory design is an effective tool to help understand the varying needs of a community.

Turn 3D models into high-quality visualizations instantly.
Turn 3D models into high-quality visualizations instantly.

Case Study: Gamification makes communication fun and intuitive

Formed in 2012, the Block by Block Foundation is a collaboration between Mojang—creator of the popular video game Minecraft—and United Nations Human Settlements Programme. In this project, Minecraft is used as a tool for communities to design their own public spaces, working off of digital twins.

Using a game format gives community members a fun way to contribute their own design vision, providing a clearer picture of what design features spark the most enjoyment among end users. This gives designers the information they need to create more satisfying spaces, reflective of the unique needs, culture, and aesthetic preferences of the communities they serve.

Visualizations are your most impactful resource for design engagement

Visualization is key to communicating internally and externally, within our own teams as well as with project stakeholders and end users. Of course, aligning the visual content and its medium to the target audience is crucial for getting the best rates of engagement.

Thought should be given to what type of visualization best appeals to the stakeholder’s role in the project, as well as their personal needs as they relate to the design. Moreover, we should make sure that our methods help stakeholders enjoy the design process.

At Enscape, we pride ourselves on offering one of the most versatile visualization resources for architects and designers. Our plug-in software is 100% compatible with today’s top CAD and BIM programs, enabling designers to generate real-time visualizations of their projects as they work. From fully immersive virtual reality experiences, to a continuously growing library of 3D assets, Enscape provides the full spectrum of visualization tools needed to create deeply engaging experiences for project stakeholders.

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