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Thursday, January 08, 2009


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Ann Otoole

I would be asking why they are making a knock-off of cool iris. There is a lot of potential in the concept but it does not have the same impact as cool iris.

I suspect one subtle issue you and others may be having is the why behind the cool iris system. This design by Big Spaceship is an attempt to display a lot of information at the same time to obtain the compelling effect. To do this effectively you have to have spatial elements. I.e.; three dimensions. The new web page for SL only has two dimensions. Cool Iris simulates three dimensions making it easier for the brain to assimilate the data. And Second Life is a three dimensional world. So it might have been better to adopt and mod the walrus code from caida.org and let people "fly through" the information instead of using a slide ruler metaphor. Slide rules are sort of obsolete now. moby.com has an actual effective and compelling web front using the flash side to side slider concept. There isn't too much information presented. Just enough to get people to look further. However it has an issue with the background never changing and thus will suffer from the boring effect after a while.

User interfaces are fun to design. I used the walrus concept to display enterprise data and business process relationships once. Like way back in the year 2000. It made sense instantly to users. Sadly the old schoolers don't like new ideas so they squished the idea.

I hope Linden Lab doesn't settle for part of the way there. They need to get to the point people are immersed up front and are compelled to enter.

And yes there should be a way to navigate to those places instantly. It is possible via direct slurl. But the parcel owner won't get credit for the new account because LL broke the referral system when they introduced direct slurl.

Crap Mariner

Regarding #2 - if they're going to feature locations on the main page, you'd think they'd pull from Showcase locations... are AM's builds (and the others in the confusing array of snapshots and videos)listed in Showcase?

As for 3 and the lack of notification given to AM, this is rather disappointing. After the first wave of OpenSpace/Void priceJacking criticism, M came out and said he wanted to build up a mechanism to involve customers in the planning/notification process.

However, this example of poor communications effort leads me to believe that there's going to be more of the same with regard to letting residents know things, even if it's a simple hat-tip or "mind if we feature something on the main page?"


Burgundy Mirajkar

An underlying assumption for two of your three questions is that LL would view content creation as a major draw for new users, whereas it looks like they're more inclined to emphasize SL's social potential. Three-fourths of the pictures on the page contain images of avatars, RL users, or both; the rest seem presented more as places to go than places to make. If my experience is typical, then this makes sense: most people seem to join SL for its social and exploratory possibilities and only later begin to create content. So here are my hypothesized answers to the questions:

1) A creation in progress is (a) not as impressive looking as a finished product and (b) visually confusing to someone unfamiliar with SL's building process. Including still shots of unfinished prims could interrupt the flow of images of beautiful avatars and places; unsurprisingly, the one frame that shows building is a video and includes avs. It could also intimidate potential new residents who are going to struggle simply with walking, talking in the correct chat field, and getting dressed when they first arrive. In contrast, people who are ready to dive right into building are less likely to need convincing at the homepage stage. They have experience with graphic design and/or other VWs and have probably arrived at the website already planning to open an account.

2) It would be nice to include place names, but the lack of slurls may be because, like images of content creation, it would be confusing for people as yet unfamiliar with the jargon. The transitional nature of SL's geography might be a factor, too: LL might not want to be responsible for false advertising if they send newbies to sims that now look completely different or don't exist at all. Leaving location names out means there is no need to keep the page updated if things change.

3) This one should have been the easiest to rectify; it wouldn't take much space in the magnified version of each picture to credit creators, and it would be a non-intimidating way to communicate content creation's accessibility. If they gave credit to creators, however, it would make sense (to a new user whose priority is socializing, not building) to identify the avatars in the frames, as well, and that could quickly get messy, both aesthetically and in terms of privacy.

So my overall sense is that the homepage is designed to emphasize SL's social potential and not really content creation and that LL didn't want to over-complicate the imagery with excess text. Since the images are already busy, it makes sense to streamline where they can.

Iggy O

"All your content are belong to us" (Linden Lab 2009).

No, I don't really believe that, and I'm fond of the new page for its marketing potential.

Still, speaking as a person who teaches the art of argument in writing, the images convey very strongly a message that LL wants folks to come and socialize. And that type of user base can sustain the world that content-creators make.

Will it be a problem? I've often used the metaphor of an artsy neighborhood that becomes tarted up for yuppies to move in, play around, and "act like the cool kids." That process is underway in our virtual 'hood.

IRL, the artists usually get run out.

Madame Maracas

I think the best front page is one of the OOOOOLD ones, w/the split image of a user and her avie. No clearer illustration of the Online/Offline power/options/potential has been created yet that I've seen. The ability to be and do whatever you can imagine was communicated in one image with a simple list of her RL vs. SL attributes.

As to lack of "credit" noted above, SLURLs would work, drawing folks to explore on their own & discover all the potential that IS SL. But then again, that might take a company that is immersed actively in SL's community to understand. Not making it easy for folks to get going in SL does have a long tradition, so maybe that's why no SLURLs and no attribution. Why change now?

- Madame Maracas


well, the previous homepage really sucked and the had the worst photos on it of all time. So, not so hard to make a big improvement with this facelift (although some of the old crappy photos are still there).

What is minorly interesting though about this work is what it conveys about what Linden Lab thinks about SL. In general it looks like just another MMO--which is sorta what the new leadership vision is only able to imagine. There is nothing really here to make a big statement that SL is cool, unique or innovative.

The "big" statement is just that SL is a big UGC thing in 3D. It is not in fact that big in terms of users, just that the users make a varied, big mess of prims.

The big "selling" message is that SL is free. So maybe it tells potentially newbies soemthing like: "hey there's a bunch of random stuff in SL, don't worry about wasting your money--only your time."

Ann Otoole

Thank you for insulting the entire resident base rigfhtasrain and Rezzable, a partner of this very blog.

Dedric Mauriac

All pictures lead to the same thing - to get started. with so many pictures, I thought each one would take me to different areas of the site that were related. It would be much simpler to just replace all the pictures with a giant button covering the same space that says get started.

callie cline

my comments after looking at the new homepage and spending about 5 minutes clicking each photo AFTER taking of my "LL does nothing right glasses" is...

i think it's a lot more interesting than what they had and actually after clicking on each photo and imagined i'd be a lot more inclined to "try it" than from the old page.

a picture is worth a thousand words and though i personally may have added more current photos or "better" (in my opinion of course) i think they are off to a nice start.

one thing is i didn't know you could click on the photo to see a little sentence under it and that they got bigger (maybe a note uptop, "click on photos's to enlarge) that would be a nice place in the future to say "residents enjoying the wheat field built by AM radio".

i hope they get a lot of photos that change and honestly i do think this is a step in the right direction to interest the average person... can it be better? absolutely!

this is the "splash" page, designed to "get them in" not really introduce them to who built what and when i was a newbie, i would not have even understood what the heck that meant. i would have been like, "huh? this is game for animators??? they built those people? oh i don't think this is for me, this seems too hard and i want to have fun."

just my thoughts but in summary, a step in the right direction to me even though i see GREAT room for improvement.

happy new year all!

caLLie cLine

Pavig Lok

Is this a joke?
that aint so lush :P

I think there's an issue with this page. It hides a lot of the information and gives no cues as to what's behind the windows. Ultimately it tells you very little about SL and kinda brands it very much towards Sony Home style consumption of potted experiences... i mean if the graphics were swapped out for the same shots in Home ... it would be Home.

The dominant message here is about seeing and doing, not about making and showing. Now there's an interesting problem with that... there's not a great deal to do in SL - Home and other virtual worlds are much better at that. The differentiating factor of SL is that you can make and show stuff - and pretty much any use case that comes across strong for SL will have those as factors.

People don't need to make or show a lot to contribute in that way. As a professional builder i tend to emphasize those factors, but my definition is wide. Dropping a photo on a prim is building and showing. Arranging your house is building and making. Presenting a talk about a subject in is showing. People often say only a tiny percentage of the SL audience is actually creating things, but I believe it is the majority, wether they create 3d stuff, community, or contribute in even the smallest way. Even Hamlet with this blog is creating dialog.... which folk may not see as 3d content creation, but contributes to the totality of the SL experience.

I don't think this new flash animation thing really gets that across. My view may be "ask not what SL can do for you, but what you can do for SL" but I believe it is a pretty accurate indication of what Second Life is about. Quite frankly this website makes SL look no more interesting than other MMOs out there. It looks like it was designed by outsiders. But that's just my two cents.


maybe I am simple-minded but you should credit people for their work. Perhaps the Tos makes crap like this legally but it is still a jerky thing to do.

delaney whippet / gbtunney

yes, i feel like this page is very similar to Cool Iris.

Overall, I do like the concept - it presents a bunch of different ideas simultaneously - that may appeal to an individuals specific interest. But if it does not contain links to access the content presented - it is basically pointless. When a new person sees a picture of an artistic and visually intriguing place, and then lands in the middle of a welcome area/porn island shortly after - they might be confused and very turned off. It is important to guide users to the interesting places that sparked the initial interest in Second Life: if they are going to be featured on the homepage.

Pyewacket Bellman

You asked the right questions - but the answers are - uh - curious. Sounds like a bot. Did you do a voice check?

Veeyawn Spoonhammer

I think the homepage works for prospective users. One thing I'd like to see is a couple of boxes that contain live events happening now. Stuff that the new user can jump right into. No reason to not have dynamic content in there.

Sigmund Leominster

Why, oh why, is this even a discussion? The web page belongs to Linden Lab and they can do what they freakin' well like with it! I use Google but it isn't mine and unless I am on the web design team, I have no automatic right to demand changes. In fact, my own company has a web page and although we listen to suggestions, if we were to change for every Tom, Dick, and Harry who thinks they can do better, we'd never have a web site. The amount of time some folks spend finding fault with everything that LL does is almost pathological!

We are NOT shareholders and NOT employees, just consumers. Anyone with nothing better to do will be able to (a) find fault, (b) have their own ideas, and (c) think they can do better.

Oh, and as for "crediting images," I don't know which planet some of the folks her live on but if anyone wants to spend their life tacking down who did what and then crediting it, go at it! I see on this very page the images of books I am exhorted to buy but no labels to tell me who designed the covers.

Nit-picking appears not only to be a fundamental vice of Second Life commentators but something actively encouraged. I suppose the next thing is to expect a long discussion about the name "Linden Lab" and how it should be changed because someone out there doesn't like it.

Get a grip, boys and girls.

Arcadia Codesmith

As a creator, I would very much welcome an influx of non-creators, particularly those with disposable income. I have no qualms about rubbing shoulders with the prim-challenged.

As the friend of an SL musician, I wouldn't mind newbies having quick access to live performances in progress... if orientation included a short review of some basics like "how to start and stop streaming media", "how to use a dance ball", "why we don't show our privates in public" and "don't walk up on stage and proposition the artist while she's performing".

Iggy O


"Is this a joke?


that aint so lush :P "

Be nice...someone put the nose back on the Sphinx!

Pavig Lok

@arcadia we certainly need lots of newbies in sl - and most of those folk would be considered "non-creators". I'm not suggesting at all that the home page should purely pitch at folk that want to do content creation.

By the same token I don't see the pitching of this web page as wildly innovative and on target. If it was a student project I would have given them a distinction, but as the front end of a major virtual worlds business maybe not so much.... so I'll deconstruct it as if it was a student project.

---teacher mode on---

High marks guys - got a concept out and it looks really pro.. here's what to look for when you're working in the industry.

* watch out for flash sites - it's easy when you're on a t1 or pre-loaded to forget how heavy they're getting.. Your page has no indication that it's loading, so your target market, if they have lower end broadband, won't see anything at all for thirty seconds during busy periods.

* the look is slick but you've only gone one level deep. Your site is black, the corporate image is white so your front page already looks incongruous against anything that it links off.

* the hidden information celebrity squares thing is kinda interesting but there's two things to think about.. firstly you're kinda turning the experience into random clicking.. secondly.. and this is important if you're going to break the rules like that, make your click thrus make sense - here's examples:

You use the word "lush" to describe a picture of a desert in egypt. careful of that kind of cognitive dissonance.

You talk about attending classes and education behind a picture that focuses on a bit of unrecognizable architecture - no people in class, or class rooms or engagement - it's another words don't fit picture thing.

There's a guy standing somewhere - the caption is work on your look. He doeesn't look so great and he doesn't look like he's working on his look.. in fact he looks like he's bowling.

I won't nit pick all of them, but you get the point. When utilizing a minimalist approach ensure everything you put in is tightly related to your intent.

So it's a good start, but needs to be fleshed out a few levels, cleaned up in terms of linked pages, and attention paid to the message you're sending with all your media.

---end teacher mode---

So that's pretty much what I would have said to my students if they'd submitted it as a project. That's not being critical of LL.... if anything it's being critical of Big SpaceShip. As a proper redesign of the first contact experience for SL it's pretty lackluster and still feels unfinished and a bit thrown together. It has potential, but this is coming from one of the big web presence groups and should have been more on target, further developed, and a lot tighter.

Kitina Celt

well the thing is they have showcase for the site to show other information going on in sl. Those are just pictures that are used to show what SL looks like.

Like 2 pics on showcase on hotspots and Machima I did and are pics of me. Dunno

Arcadia Codesmith

Pavig - Not disagreeing with you (or with Hamlet). There just seems to be an undertone in some of the responses that we should be strongly targeting artists and creators, with a subsequent depreciation of audience and consumers.

I submit that a person who does nothing more than shop, listen to live music, tour spectacular builds, and never contributes anything more than attention, appreciation and a few bucks here and there, that person is just as important to the virtual world as somebody who builds sim-spanning wonders of interactive eye candy.

Targeting the website to this broader demographic is not just a legitimate exercise, it's a vitally important one.

That said, the page fails, not because it's inappropriately targeted, but because it's a textbook study in how not to design an opening webpage for ANY audience. Form follows function, and this just isn't functioning.

Alexandra Rucker

Those answers from the Lab?

Aren't answers at all. Just more spin, rephrasing "we think it's a good idea, but we'll just say it's still in testing so you go away and shut up".

Reread them with a critical eye and you'll see.

Scarp Godenot

Seriously to answer one of the questions. I think linking these to SL places directly would cause avatar overload at these places resulting in crashing and people having a bad experience.

This is exactly the opposite of what LL wants from this page.

That said, a serious travel section high up on the site (even linked directly from this page) that a full time LL employee is 100 percent time dedicated to would help immensely. Things change so frequently in SL nobody can keep up with all the cool stuff, but an attempt should be made.

btw, being a RL 'content creator' getting credit is very easily done by the biggest media outlets in the world, it is something that should also be done in SL.


@ann--i didn't intend to insult the entire sl resident base. Sorry if i wasn't clear.

My point was about what LL is saying about how they perceive the benefit of SL to new users.

It is also interesting that while they are saying "dance, flirt, learn, shop, play, build" they left out "own" which is in fact their business--ie selling land.

It would seem that from this design that their brief to the designers was something like we are many things to everyone. My impression is that the output is unfocused and leaves the potential newbies with a random impression of what is in SL and not a strong enough sell on why they should come to SL vs WoW, Sony Home etc.

But the real value of the new page will be seen in the new user registration figures...

Gary Kohime

@ Hamlet
It’s very valid for you to bring up this topic on its design.
Your Point #1. This is lacking on the current site design as well. Although, if a compelling design could be made to depict who 'made' SL what it is, it might be too hard for a potential member to grasp. Nonetheless, the point is important; I just can't see how this could be included as a 'draw'. Except maybe to draw those that have an interest in being a 'creator'.

#2. I agree, and a solution might be to include a LM to these locations, in a special folder perhaps. But, if the location changes in the future then you have a dead link. But, this could be remedied by someone responsible to assure that what is presented is still there.

#3. The “credit where credit is due” point is extremely valid, and the builders name could be shown in a way that would not detract from the overall design.

My first impression with the design was one of feeling lost. Like what do I do now? This is also true on the current site design and even worse. Not that the proposed design is any better.

@ Burgundy
You make some compelling arguments and well worth a listen to by LL.

@ Sigmund
I take issue with your "we are JUST consumers". WE are not ALL that. We are, to a large extent artists. WE/THEY created SL, LL provided the technology. Yes, some are consumers, I'll give you that much.

@ Pavig
Right On!! :)

@ Ann
If you had paid attention to RightAsRain. He clearly states:

"What is minorly interesting though about this work is what it conveys about what Linden Lab thinks about SL."

and THEN read the rest, you wouldn’t have misspoke.

The problems with becoming a noobe are without question challenging. If the goal is to get them to 'sign up', then make it clear where to do this. The pictures in most cases are nice to look at, etc. But, where do I sign? With Web sites "Content is King", but also Contact is critical, i.e.; who/what/where/how in relation to that contact.

Furthermore, if they don't fix that FIRST hour of SL experience, it will all be for naught. But, then you have to balance "how to be" with "letting go to allow free exploration". This can only be resolved with the UI of the viewer, as its right there. Inventory isn’t, Help Islands aren't, Help menu doesn’t work effectively. Make it obvious!

To fish tail on Pavig's comment. I think a pop-up notecard on "Concert Etiquette” or whatever might assist at this point. What also would help is security at these events. Not bouncers, but help to those who know no better and are just 'feeling there oats' :)

Overall, it’s too dark, too much black, no appreciation for the color, windlight, 3D virtual realms and ultimately its beauty. If Social Networking is the attempted draw, then make it more romantic, after all, romanticism can be conveyed in many ways, and it can stand out from the ‘other’ non-3d worlds so much better. I recall, when I was new, watching some of the “videos of the week, or whatever, and this was very good at helping me understand what SL was about. Perhaps the “Showcase” page should become the FRONT page, with some re-design, you then could integrate credits, etc and other aspects that are missing in the proposed design.

Two Worlds

Haha..."passive media"..."big media conglomerate"...I can almost sense the outright nerd rage in those words.

Two Worlds

Also what on earth are you all so up in arms about the frontpage design. That is like the least helpful thing Linden Labs can do--probably the cheapest also, but oh well. At this point they are basically re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

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