Visualization of external project with vegetation
Amanda E. Jones

Amanda E. Jones

Published: August 01, 2023  •  5 min read

Supercharging Engagement with Effective Design Visualization

Getting active involvement from all project participants is crucial for the creation of superior designs. But it can certainly be a hurdle.

From blueprints to data clusters, design experts often express their ideas in a manner that is too specialized for the general population. 

To explore solutions to this problem, Roderick Bates, Director of Corporate Development at Chaos, lent his expertise in digital visualization in a recent webinar with Architizer. Roderick guided the audience through a number of ideas, as well as real-world examples of engagement driven by visualization tools

Here, you’ll find a quick rundown of the webinar’s topics, plus the recording, so that you too can enjoy these insights!

Harnessing four key modes of visualization

Luckily, it only takes the right resources to bridge the communication gap between designers and stakeholders. Roderick points out that visual representation tools have shown to be highly effective in articulating design ideas, clearing a smooth path for participation.

Why? Because our brains are wired to favor visual information. As much as 90% of all data received by the brain is visual. To handle all of that input, the human brain has adapted to process imagery 60,000 times quicker than plain text. Therefore, our understanding is vastly increased when we’re able to access information visually.

Today’s designers are getting great results from four primary types of visualization:

We’ve compiled an overview of each below, accompanied by real-world examples of successful applications. 


Skybar visualization example of customer projectProject visualization credit to Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects and Liljewall Architects

Virtual reality (VR)

Best for communicating: Presence, spatial perception, immersion, and interaction

Virtual reality (VR) has surfaced as a revolutionary design tool, allowing professionals to exhibit their designs as if they were already built.

Stakeholders and end-users are able to experience the design like they’re really there. Navigating a space in VR feels much the same as doing so in a real, physical environment, making it easier to intuit spatial relationships.


Interesting findings came on that notion in a 2017 study by MIT. Participants were tasked with designing a sculpture garden using two separate mediums: VR and traditional 2D software. When participants worked on the VR model of their designs, they demonstrated a superior intuitive perception of spatial relationships, even when they were veteran designers with years of experience translating designs in 2D. 

Success story: VR enhances understanding of complex site plans among clients and buyers

An Enscape client was a developer pitching an upscale mountain community. Their top priority was to maximize the conservation of the surrounding environment, using high-density design to minimize the community’s footprint.

To protect their investments, it was essential for both the developer and potential homebuyers to have a clear understanding of the design before committing. This was easily achieved through Enscape’s ability to build 3D models explorable with VR.

VR - virtual reality for architectural visualization

Virtual assets & entourage

Best for communicating: Emotional connection, use case, design practicality, scale

Using a rich and relevant digital asset library can enhance a viewer's emotional engagement with digitally-visualized spaces. Entourage that matches the real-world setting and use case is extremely effective for demonstrating scale, performance, and feel. Such objects make designs more realistic and vibrant, increasing the likelihood that stakeholders will feel confident in the design’s fit.

In 2020 research conducted by Louisiana State University, it was observed that interaction with natural elements in immersive virtual settings has a similar mood-lifting effect to experiencing them in reality. This finding underscores the fact that even in digital arenas, environmental features significantly impact our happiness.


Vegetation assets architectural visualization

Success story: Custom assets win client connection

With only the most basic entourage, it’s easy for visualizations to feel lifeless. In the design of a private office, it was important to have imagery that personally resonated with the client and felt like it accurately represented their way of life. Incorporating detailed custom assets elevated the renderings, making it possible for the client to fully visualize using the space in their everyday routine. 

Immersive data experiences

Best for communicating: Data context, relationships, dynamics, and trends 

Traditional presentations of information through tables, figures, and diagrams can sometimes come across as dull and overly complex. This uniformity often hinders the interpretation of data trends and can be a big obstacle for inspiring enthusiasm. 

Technische Universität Dresden's research has substantiated this observation, highlighting a preference for spatial interaction when it comes to viewing data. Users found this approach to be far more comfortable and efficient than navigating flat graphics. Designers who showcase data via 3D visuals find it much easier to capture the attention of their stakeholders and encourage exploration. 

Success Story: Engagement spikes when data becomes interactive

Chaos regularly publishes a newsletter that covers its internal trends. Desiring more engagement from subscribers, the company experimented with data visualizations that took on a new 3D format. The change was immediately apparent, with view times soaring by 800%. Instead of giving tables a mere 5-second glance, subscribers were now perusing them carefully, for a full 45 seconds. 


Best for securing: Active participation, stakeholder feedback

Who doesn't love a good game? By injecting a bit of that fun factor into design processes, designers can amp up involvement. Gaming concepts like challenges and rewards not only deliver entertainment, but also win the level of engagement necessary to garner meaningful feedback. 

In 2023, The Chinese University of Hong Kong investigated the potential benefits of using gamified design in public facility planning. They built a VR model of a project site, creating an engaging platform for community interaction. Community members were allowed to interact with this digital twin through a number of multiplayer games, each crafted to glean insights on their perspectives and priorities. This format was successful in encouraging participation, confirming that a gamified approach can be a great tool for helping designers understand those they serve.

Visualizations: The ultimate tool for engaging design

Effective communication with project stakeholders relies heavily on clear visualization. However, achieving that requires choosing the mode that best meets their needs and offers the highest level of enjoyment.  

Thankfully, the means to generate compelling visualizations are readily available. Many of these tools offer exceptional value and user-friendliness, making it possible for any team to create appealing, high-powered imagery.

Enscape is one such tool. The rendering plugin is fully compatible with leading CAD and BIM programs, allowing real-time project visualizations to be generated with ease. This real-time rendering software equips users with the full range of tools needed to create meaningful, interactive experiences, with which stakeholders can engage like never before. 


stationstorget visualization of projectEnscape rendering credit to Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects and Liljewall Architects

Find the solutions you need for maximum engagement

If you're looking for the right visualization solution to deliver superior design experiences, this real-time visualization buyer's guide will help you make an informed buying decision. 




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Amanda E. Jones
Amanda E. Jones

Amanda E. Jones is a writer specializing in the architecture, engineering, and construction sector. Her interests lie in how innovation is shaping the future of the world and how we build it. Though she has a globetrotting past, she currently hails from California's Clearlake region.