Update: Keira Linden indicated as well as A/B testing against the Learning / Social Islands, the Welcome Islands are also being compared with throughput via the Firestorm Community Gateway. you can find more on Keira’s comments on the Welcome Islands and the Guidebook in my July 7th Web User Group meeting summary).
Following my recent look through the new Guidebook that now forms a part of the official Second Life viewer (and is filtering its way into TPVs), and which is aimed at helping those get started on the platform, I’ve had the opportunity to take a poke at the new Welcome Islands that are designed as an arrival point for incoming new users, and which leverage the viewer’s Guidebook.
Before getting down to some of the details, it’s worth pointing out a couple of things:
- The new Welcome Islands and Guidebook appear to be in A/B testing alongside the existing Learning Islands / Social Islands that are in use.
- This means that should you opt to create a new account to try-out the new Welcome Islands, you may not actually be directed to them, but are instead directed to one of the existing Learning Islands / Social Island (reviewed here).
Given this, I opted to use the Guidebook within the viewer to get me to the new Welcome Islands rather than creating a new account and relying on pot luck to get me delivered to them via the on-boarding process (when I might easily be routed to a Learning Island).On arrival, I found the Guidebook had opened itself at the first page – much as I would expect it to do for a new user on their arrival at the Welcome Islands. As with other new user experiences, Welcome Island presents a path for arrivals are to follow, one that meanders through a park-like setting built around a water feature. The latter offers an interesting view of the Second Life grid – as a planetary globe, canted on its axis and spinning gently, its watery surface dotted by the Mainland continents, mini-continents and private estates / islands.
Along this path can be found the three main stations referenced within the Guidebook for interacting with objects,, changing / customising an avatar and gaining familiarity with avatar attachments, all of which sit relatively close to the landing point. Beyond them are two more large stations – a bar and a café, each with interactive food / drink givers – and a number of open-air seating areas offering the chance for social interactions – if there are sufficient new users on an island who wish to mingle.
Also to be found on the islands is a sign directing all those who wish to move on elsewhere in Second Life to use the Destinations tool bar button. However, what the sign fails to indicate is that if it is clicked, it will (via a dialogue box) offer to open the web search at the Destination Guide, which can then also be used to locate places to visit.
These islands are a simple in design, easy-to-explore settings with some nice touches (e.g. seats that actually offer poses, drinks and refreshments trays that attach objects to an avatar in order to help new users gain familiarity with interacting with scripted object) and sits well with the Guidebook. However, part of me does wonder if it is a little too minimalistic in approach in order to satisfy all incoming new users.
Certainly, there is a strong contrast between this somewhat contextual approach and the more tutorial-oriented Learning Island / Social Island approach. There are strengths and weaknesses to both, so continuing with them on a side-by-side basis even beyond A/B testing is likely not a bad idea, so it will be interesting to see what happens down the road.
What I will say is that, whilst loitering in the Welcome Islands I was delivered to, several people dropped in as well. Those who responded to me indicated they had just signed-up (although looked like they were coming back to the “Welcome Back” Island where I was hiding, rather than being “brand new” users”), and further indicated they were finding the Guidebook useful – although this obviously didn’t stop questions! – although one who had managed to find their way into inventory did admit to getting somewhat confused and wanting more information on have to change looks without having to pick an entire new avatar, and what was the difference between WEAR and ADD.
I’m not sure we’ll be given any clear insights into how well the new Welcome Islands perform when compared to the other routes into Second Life, but hopefully it will contribute not only to getting people into SL, but also giving them the level of information they need to keep on visiting – and exploring.