October 2022 Web User Group: NUX, New Premium level

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, October 5th, 2022.

These meetings:

  • Are held in-world, generally on the first Wednesday of the month – see the SL public calendar.
  • 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

[Video: 4:30-8:04]

Marketplace Search Overhaul

  • This will hopefully be deployed in week #42 (commencing Monday, October 10th, 2022), depending on how it clears its QA pass.
  • The initial deployment includes:
    • Updates to the Elasticsearch infrastructure.
    • Functionality improvements (e.g. better sorting, exact matches, etc).
  • From this is it hoped that improved filtering, etc., can be built-out, and the work on Styles (listing variants) can move closer to deployment.

 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.
  • The first element of the land work to be user-facing will be the new Land Portal, a central hub from which to get to all aspects of land “ownership”.
    • The Land Portal is still a development, and in the process of creating it, the team has embarked on building a design system so that the redevelopment of web properties can be undertaken with greater ease in the future.
    • Once available to the public, the Land Portal will thus provide insight into how the rest of secondlife.com will look at the web properties revamp continues.
  • [12:11-13:08] While incorporating private estates / rentals within the new “Land Journey”, the intent is not to manage private rentals, the idea is to make it more obvious to users that they can rent from private estates, how they might do so, and (potentially) provide a means for people to highlight their own available rentals.

Why Overhaul the Web Properties?

Effort is being put into the web properties as many relay on core designs and structures built well over a decade ago, and are thus dated in their look compared to modern websites and are difficult to maintain. The re-vamp is therefor intended to both update SL’s appearance on the web (and make it more attractive to the curious) and provide the means for more functionality and easier maintenance.

Premium Subscriptions – Beyond Premium Plus

[Video: 8:13-12:02]

  • The introduction of Premium Plus has opened the door to potentially having multiple subscription levels, and possibly an “a-la carte” capability (pick which benefit options you’d like, and pay on the basis of that selection).
  • As Premium Plus has been so successful in its take-up, the Lab is looking to deploy what might be the first of further Premium levels by the end of 2022.
    • A formal announcement of what this new level is is be called and what it includes is expected “pretty soon”, possibly late  October  / early November 2022, depending on how the final naming and marketing, etc., decisions go,
    • This is not a level to sit “between” Premium and Premium Plus, but is regarded by the Lab as more of a “side” version,  so levels are not necessary identified by price point but by options.
  • Reed’s view on additional Premium levels is that is the Lab develops ideas and takes feedback, so they will be able to offer choices (including a future a-la carte) that more fully reflect the hopes / wants / needs of users.

New User Experience

[Video 17:29-]

  • 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.
  • incoming suggestions for improving the NUX / user retention at this meeting were:
    • Inclusion of a “Getting Started” option in the viewer (or as an additional to the toolbar button?) to provide access to “approved” Second life You Tube tutorials (perhaps linking to the official Second Life University You Tube playlist?).
    • Introducing an actual “character creator” rather than just sets of starter avatars – this is actually already something the Lab is actually investigating at the moment.
    • Providing an over-the-shoulder camera view within the viewer, rather than / in addition to the current default camera placement.
      • Many already do this via the Camera Presets built-in to the viewer, and using “recognised” offsets such as those long provided by Penny Patton, and some TPVs provide an over-the-should view by default.
      • Doing so has many beneficial aspects to SL (such as the ability to properly scale building interiors) well beyond purely the NUX.
    • Making sure any gateway access points for incoming users have daytime EEP settings.
      • This is perhaps questionable where Community Gateways for specific role-play types (vampire / horror / space) are supposed to be dark – and having even a small area set to daytime might come across as counter-intuitive to incoming new players.
    • Improving the Inventory interface and ease the process of changing outfits, etc.
      • Some work on Inventory is being considered, which may include updates to things like available object icons, etc.. Alexa Linden has also been seeking broader feedback on inventory pain-points existing users experience.
    • Re-engineering the viewer so capabilities are only unlocked as new users visit in-world tutorial areas.
      • A problem here is that people come to SL for different reasons – so how do you ensure that their needs are meet both in terms of allowing them access to any functionality they require that may otherwise be “locked” &  ensure they can get to require required tutorial location(s) with ease?
      • Some also come in as a result of friends, and get hands-on support from said friends – so may not require “formal” tutoring  through dedicated locations – which then become regarded as a PITA in forcing people through them.
    • Providing structured hand-holding at the gateways where questions can be asked and answered – again something LL has re-experimented with, and many community gateways provide.

In Brief

  • [Video: 14:23-15:33] Marketplace Rebuild:
    • Still planned for a 2023 project.
    • No definitive take on what it might look like, etc.
    • Lab still interested in obtaining feedback from store holders and customers on what they’d like to see incorporated in a new MP / approaches they believe should be taken (e.g. Amazon-like; Daz3D-like, etc.), and where specific pain point lie within the current MP & its presentation.
  • General chat towards the end of the meeting on user retention, content creation, strategies for user acquisition, etc. Please refer to the video for details.

Next Meeting

  • Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022. Venue and time per top of this summary.