New User Experience

I went through creating a new avatar the other day…Welcome?

… and here’s what I found.

  • The account creation dialogs on the website are okay, but:
    • they still don’t make it clear that you cannot change your account name and don’t offer you the option to customize your display name at registration time… Action: ask for your preferred DISPLAY name, then munge it to create an acceptable account name as a second step.
    • There’s no email validation step – this seems like a bad idea. Action: add one.
    • You don’t have to retype your password, combined with no email validation, this is realllly bad.  Action: require retype.
    • BTW, I chose a nice one-word avatar name “Alemayehu” which, according to means “I have seen the world” in Amharic.
  • Avatar selection
    • The carousel is a nice idea, but it doesn’t work terribly well (the animations glitch or fail on various browsers).
    • Why only three categories?  and why would “Vampires” make it as a category, especially when half the avatars in the section are clearly not vampires? Action: more categories.  Maybe a set of dialogs or a hierarchy.
    • What happened to the black avatars? I chose an African name and the only remotely African looking male avatars are.. monsters which are more or less racist caricatures of black men?! I know there used to be a pretty decent black male in the library, but he’s not in the “Classic” section. Action: expose more library avatars at the signup phase.
    • Best practice would be to either offer a very small number of generic avatars and do an appearance modification exercise in-world or run through a more involved dialog during setup… or maybe let you select a “starter avatar” from a new marketplace section and have it pre-applied?
  • Learning Island
    • Build is acceptable, but needs more environmental effects and music.  It DOES have some very very repetitive wave sounds at the landing point, but otherwise is dead dead dead: no animal sounds, no wind, the fountains are silent. Action: this is the very first environment a new user sees.  Make it GREAT.
    • Few indicators of what you are supposed to do.  Arrows point the direction (fine), but some instruction is really required.  There are hints that instruction is supposed to happen as popups:  once an empty window popped up on the right side of my HUD, but… well… it was empty and soon went away. Action: fix the popups, make things work.
    • A few minutes in, I was told that there was a new version of the viewer and offered to install it for me – it did, which was nice and fast, but I couldn’t log back in immediately, which was unexpectedly annoying.
  • Social Island
    • wait… we’re done learning already?!?  Action: basic training should include touch and sit, use a dialog, chat something, maybe some basic inventory manipulation before sending them to a social space open to anyone.
    • landing point crowded with avatars, mostly not new, some dancing and waving stuff around.  At least they were chatty and seemed willing to answer questions.
    • … which is good because there are no indications where to go and what to do.
  • The Mesh Avatar
    • First thing I noticed is that it doesn’t move anything like it moved in the avatar selection carousel on the web page.  Not only no AO, but still the same old horrible default animations. Action: all starter avatars should be animated like the carousel.
    • This guy seems to be almost unmodifiable and there aren’t any clues as to what you need to do to customize, including what clothing you need to look for. Action: starter avatars need to be customizable or they undercut one of the major selling points of SL (shopping, personalization, expressiveness).