The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, September 7th, 2022.
These meetings are generally held in-world on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. They are usually chaired by Reed Linden, who is the Lab’s Product Manager for the Second Life front-end web properties (Marketplace, secondlife.com, the sign-up pages, the Lab’s corporate pages, etc.).
A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and subject timestamps to the relevant points in the video are provided. Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.
Updates for the Last Month
Land Ownership “Journey”
- A complete re-write of every route by which users can obtain and hold land, from Premium (+Plus) Linden Homes, obtaining Mainland (incl. Abandoned Land), and private island regions, and renting from private estates.
- This involves not only a re-write of existing land-related web pages (again, as examples, the Premium Linden Homes selection page, the Mainland auction page, the region purchase pages (which date from 2005!), etc.), and the development of completely new pages related to land “ownership”.
- The work is being carried out using technology that is “new to Linden Lab”.
- Initially, this work will not involve any changes to Land tools within the viewer UI. However as the project progresses, it will see changes being made to the viewer’s land management tools, etc., as well.
- The first element of the land work to be user-facing will be the new Land Portal, which is expected to be made available in the next few weeks.
- This will provide access to land.secondlife.com and offer a “preview” of what form the new “land journey” will take.
- [Video: 15:36-17:15] Following the work on the Land Portal, the focus will likely either be on updating the Linden Homes pages OR the price region purchase pages.
- Once the Portal is up and running, the Lab will be monitoring where people go on accessing it, which may influence the order in which the land-related web properties are updated.
Secondlife.com Beyond Land
- The “land journey” work is the first phase in a larger project to completely update all of the secondlife.com web pages and portals, and which will also eventually encompass Marketplace as well.
- Some of the thematic elements of this work can already be seen in places such as join.secondlife.com.
- The overall aim of this work is to offer a modern look and feel to the Second Life web presence which is both easier to maintain / update and allows for new capabilities / functionality to be more easily added.
Marketplace – Search and Styles
- This work is to leverage all of the recent work put into “regular” such (e.g. the relevance engine, etc.) for Marketplace Search.
- The current focus is on importing all the infrastructure work carried out for Search into the Marketplace search capability, including the framework for the relevance engine.
- However, rather than using the current relevance engine, a version specific to Marketplace searches will be built for better optimisation.
- The updated Search will likely include additional search options.
- The overhaul of the search tools is seen as a further step that will better enable the use of Styles (i.e. single listings with multiple variances (e.g. colours) of the same product), although the first element of this work is liable to be the “next” significant release for the MP.
- All of this work is being seen as a lead-in to the potential complete ground-up build and phased implementation of a completely new Marketplace, with 2023 being designated “the year of Marketplace”.
New User Experience
- The New User eXperience (NUX) has been identified by the lab’s Executive Team as a major area of focus for the at least next 12 months.
- Some of the Lab’s work in this are has been previewed in terms of the upcoming “all mesh” New Starter Avatars (see here and here), but LL recognises more work needs to be done within the NUX as a while.
- Questions asked at the meeting (from a Web Team perspective) were:
- Are there “silver bullets” existing users think might improve the overall NUX from sign-up to engagement?
- Is there something that could be implemented that would immediately change the NUX to improve retention?
- What specifically could be done on the web side of things to present a more engaging NUX to incoming users?
- Have people specific feedback from recent new users (e.g. those whom they may have asked to come try out SL) which might feed into thinking about improving the NUX (e.g. worries users have expressed in having to download and install the viewer as an “unknown” piece of software, issues of people being pressured into believing they are using the “wrong” viewer in favour of another, etc?
- This is liable to be a major topic of conversation at the next WUG, so those with constructive ideas, particularly (but not exclusively) on the web side of NUX, are invited to attend.
Premium Subscriptions – Looking Beyond Premium Plus
- Premium Plus take-up is still viewed as being “very successful” to the point the Lab is now considering ideas for other possible Premium subscription options, which may include things like:
- “Premium Lite” – which might offer some of the options available in Premium, but not all of them, and at a lower price.
- “Premium a-la Carte” – which might offer users the ability to pick and chose at least some of the options available to the current Premium / Plus offerings, each with its own fee, and thus pay a subscription based on the options selected.
- No timeline on if / when any new subscription options might arise, what they might comprise or the pricing involved, as this is only in the “discussion” phase within the Lab, but feedback is being taken through the WUG meetings.
- Multi-factor authentication: moving beyond just the use of a third-party authentication tool (Google Authenticator / Microsoft Authenticator) to offer additional means to complete the MFA process is unlikely to come before 2023.
- A further request was made to de-couple Homestead “ownership” from having to hold at least one Full region. While not entirely ruled out for future consideration, there are some very practical considerations around this idea that need to be considered:
- One of these is the heavy use of Homesteads by private estates and the potential of severely damaging the market if Homesteads were to be de-coupled from Full region holding at the same price.
- Another is the question of whether, if offered at a higher tier than when coupled to Full region holdings ($109 a month), what that tier would be in order to avoid too severe a disruption to the current land market.
- Lower mesh upload fees for Premium Plus: this has been indicated as a future Premium Plus benefit. However, it is proving difficult to implement because unlike the other fees for uploads, etc., mesh does not have a “one fee fits all” structure – the cost varies in accordance with things like model complexity, LODs, etc., and injecting a fee reduction based on a percentage calculation into the process is proving to be a more complex task than imagined.
- Eliminating store names appearing in Marketplace searches using item names: this is a fix currently being worked on as a part of weighting changes to search (e.g. store names and user names will not carry as much weight as item names).
- Conversely, when searching for store names, these should have a higher weighting as the initial MP search updates are deployed.
- SL Wiki: it was restated that, outside of various “official” pages, the SL wiki is no longer “officially” supported or subject to updated for a number of reasons.
- Feature requests:
- BUG-232355 “Group Name Change” given the desire to reduce the proliferation of Groups in SL and the load they can place on various back-end services, this has been a long-running request, now accepted by the Lab.
- BUG230941 “Add a store blocklist to the Marketplace” – will possibly be amongst the “Soon ™” Marketplace updates.
- BUG-231257 “Incorporate 360 Snapshots in to the Destination Guide” – is viewed as a more nuanced request requiring interaction across different services which may make implementation difficult, but the request has not been ruled out.
- Wednesday, October 5th, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.