Linden Lab has deployed a new format sign-up process for those joining Second Life.
Using a simpler, more unified page design, the new sign-up process brings together the previously separate avatar picker and sign-up form into a single page, effectively reducing the number of individual steps a new user must take from initial sign-up through to downloading the viewer.
Picking a starter avatar is now a case of selecting one of two galleries from a drop-down menu in the left-hand panel in the initial page (shown below): Classic Avatars (the default) or Fantasy Avatars. Clicking the portrait of an avatar will display a full body animated thumbnail of the avatar, while personal information can be entered into the form on the right-hand panel.
The options for selecting Basic or Premium membership follow the same page format, although the Premium button takes a user to the more familiar Premium upgrade page, allowing them to choose their preferred payment option: monthly, quarterly or annual. The Basic option button will complete the sign-up process and allow present the download option for the viewer.
The new sign-up process also gave me the opportunity to try the latest iteration of the Learning Island new users are delivered to the first time they log-in to Second Life using the official viewer.
As I reported in 2015 and 2016, the Lab have been using experience keys to help guide new users in gaining familiarity with the basic movement controls in the viewer. The most recent version of the Learning Islands continues this approach, offering incoming new users a basic set of tasks – walking, jumping, flying – using the camera – they are asked to complete, before moving through a set of portals that deliver them to the Second Life Social Islands.
The new island design is a route through a series of broad halls built around a central terrace that might be suitable for socialising with other newcomers, and which is reached via a portal at the end of the final lesson (using the camera), and which contains the portal that delivers users to the Social Islands.
The lessons themselves and are indicated both on the HUD (seen in the image above) and via instruction tablets within the halls. Animated arrows (again seen in the image above) and on the floor help direct users around the halls.
Overall, the new sign-up process is a lot cleaner and – perhaps more importantly – a lot more modern-looking than the last iteration, which always felt cumbersome to me. It is concise enough to hopefully prevent a new user from bailing out before getting as far as downloading, installing and running the viewer.
Similarly, the updated Learning Island – which may well have been in use for a while, I’ve not been keeping an eye on the generic islands of late, only the themed islands, – offer a much more straightforward approach to getting started with the basics of the viewer. It might be argued that as this particular iteration doesn’t include information on inventory, Linden Dollars, etc., it might be a little too light on details; but keep in mind this may be one of a number of Learning Island variants the Lab might periodically rotate into use.