Business in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Second Life Home: This is Your Console

Yesterday I blogged about the launch of an A/B test phase for a new home page for Second Life and complained that it was hard to comment on it without seeing it (which is what the Lindens asked the community to do). I’ll give all credit to the Lab: they posted a screen shot…I hope it was because of the comments on the forum asking for a look!

I’ll give all credit for their original decision as well: don’t show a screen shot because people might comment. Maybe they were right in the first place. Because without being able to interact with the new home page, it’s possible we’re all missing the little ‘wow’ that would come with whirling images or sound or whatever it is that makes this a way to “introduce potential new users to the wonders of Second Life which cannot be expressed with a 2D static image,” as M Linden commented on my blog yesterday.

“There is so much that we want to show people about what exists inside this wondrous world!” he said.

Wondrous maybe but I wonder whether wondrous includes unique?

I mean, the first thing that sprang to mind when seeing the new design were, well, 90% of the applications being developed in Papervision these days.

Maybe it’s a good thing to “fit in” with the latest trend in design, or whatever, although I always pictured Second Life as a world of its own.

Is Flash a Barrier to Entry?
I also commented yesterday on the barriers to entry by using Flash. And I’ll let the A/B tests figure it out, I suppose. I know they promise that you can go the ’static’ route: but where’s that button again? Or am I missing it? Does it ONLY take place at the loading screen? I suppose once you’re in you’re in.

It’s so difficult to evaluate without being able to play with it, I guess. And the proof is in the testing. I’m just skeptical.

And so are others, in particular Crap Mariner who does such a, um, beautiful job explaining concerns with the interface:

“Looked up some of my old notes: “Black is not an inviting color. You do not go into a black space. Our brains are wired to prefer light spaces.”

Once again, grab whatever wrist-slashing Goth who put together this piece of garbage, rub them with raw hamburger meat, show them the door, and then release the hounds.”

What concerns me is the possibility that this will also be the direction of the new user interface design: if I’m not mistaken, Big Spaceship is helping with that as well, and there are already screens designed according to a previous note from M.

But hey, keep us posted on the A/B test, it’s new users that matters for this little slice of the SL first hour. But if it’s going to start invading the rest of the SL interfaces (how about a Flash-based JIRA?) I’m not sure whether this will lighten my mood or not.


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