Thursday, September 16, 2010

Second Life New User Experience: From Banner Click to First Rez

There's been a lot of discussion over the last year about the dreaded "first hour experience" in Second Life. Just yesterday, my friend and partner in creative crime Nightflower posted 3 Lessons Linden Lab Can Learn From LOTRO in New World Notes.

Before any first hour experience is possible, there must be some event that motivates a neophyte to register. Since many new registrations originate with a Google-powered ad, I decided to role play as a Twilight wannabe. I clicked one of Linden Lab's vampire-themed banners and followed it all the way through to my new avatar's first rez in Second Life.

Everything went very well at first. I expected the banner link to just dump me at the secondlife.com home page. Instead, it sent me to a nice vampire-themed landing page that led me through a series of simple steps to register. Very well done!

The trouble started when I logged in to Second Life. Although it did rez me within a vampire RPG area, I was left alone with absolutely no help in figuring out how to use the client or to make sense of the environment I was dumped in. I gave it a reasonable try, but only lasted about five minutes before giving up and quitting.

You can see what happened for yourself here. I think it's probably a pretty good representation of why so few people end up transitioning from new Second Life registrants to active participants. Maybe instead of talking about the first hour experience we should focus on the first ten minutes and work out from there?

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10 comments:

Lalo Telling said...

Maybe the source of the phrase is: What reasonably computer- and/or game-savvy people expect to take no more than 10 minutes, lasts at least an hour.

Adric said...

I don't like to think about it, but it was one of the more confusing things ever. If I did start at a help area I did not stay because I recall the helpless struggle with the shirt I purchased yet had no idea how to wear. This was the least of the worries actually as my attempt to make a homemade avatar ended up with a rather deformed gray colored elephant man sort of result no shirt could help.

The question for those of us who do is why do we? Why are we still here when the vast majority runs for the door in a few days? For me it was after stumbling around on foot forever making the discovery I could search. In goes "doctor who" and off to an amazing place (long since gone) that had things I liked and even people I tolerated for a while.

Still, no one has ever really tried to help even as I grasp those those big ones like alpha textures (4 weeks), sculpts (3 weeks), and why you can't have a Tardis in Second Life that is really bigger on the inside.

For Linden (or anyone) to offer a new user experience that is customized just for them would be great in a world like WoW of LOTR for the simple reasons I don't want to be in those places; they don't have more interests/groups/roving gangs than we can count. Even in topic, it goes to sub-topic. The sort of scary Gor, the medium, the holy crap that is so wrong ones, etc.

Were there a way to place someone in the perfect place I don't think Second Life would be what it is.

I did suffer, struggle, and want so much to be helped at times, but just knowing there was someone close at almost every step of the way to tell me what a stupid noob I was made me the damaged angry resident I am now and that is Second Life.

I don't want to be happy if Farmville is part of the deal.

Also, I don't want Linden getting in the biz of choosing which groups to bless with new meat. No good can come of it.

sororNishi said...

I lasted 4.20 minutes (of your vid) I was blessed by meeting a mentor, without her I don't know how I would have done that first hour.

Apple MacKay said...

Well duh! You went to a vampire sim in the daytime! Of course there was no one around to help you!
O.o

Uccello Poultry said...

Very Sad. If a Community wants to be featured as a starting destination then they need to make the commitment to educate and guide. Not having a tutorial or, better yet, a staff member present is almost criminal. But, it certainly explains the lack of retention after the first hour.

Riven Homewood said...

It took a university professor through the avatar creation process last week. We ended up in a series of boring, featureless ice caves that walked her through how to walk, fly, teleport, sit, etc. It was boring, but I'm so glad we got that one and not this one!

Brinda said...

I've posted many times perhaps the two most important criteria for staying here are stubborness and an imagination.
Secondlife is not easy...it will never be easy (unless it's changed into a 3D chatroom ala Farmville).
What does work is live help... mentors. And in the words of The Benevolent Monarchy that won't scale.

John B. Sandlin said...

Perhaps needs a short video to play for newbies before they first rez in-world. I no longer really remember my first time logging in.

I signed up because some pod casters were hosting an in-world lecture series. I think they had a brief set of instructions how to find the lectures once we got to SL. I really can't remember if LL had a "orientation island" at the time (January 2007).

Regarding viewer 2.0: It isn't a bad viewer. It's just that some of the changes seemed to be for change's sake, and a lot of functions we were used to are now so deeply hidden in some dark recess of the viewer that it takes a combination of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Nancy Drew to find.

First, though, landing in SL cannot be bewildering if LL expects people to come back after that first visit.

Botgirl Questi said...

I posted my first thoughts on lessons learned from the video here.

Georgianna Blackburn said...

Aside from knowing how confusing entry is to a new user, the thing that strikes me is that most other virtual worlds today also start users off with some sort of money to spend. I guess it's not important if when you arrive there are tons of freebies nearby and a clear way of knowing how to get them, or why... IDK.. direct teleport to areas of interest where no one is there isn't sounding like a good plan to me.

I've always thought a staffed entry point, whether Lindens or mentors was the best way to help people get started. (shrugs)