New Second Life Homepage: An Assessment

29 Dec

Fair warning: this is long, very geeky, and probably completely snooze worthy. I post it to invite debate, to provide a different voice to the others that have critiqued, and I honestly hope that someone at big spaceship/LL cares enough to read through it at least once 🙂

Disclaimer: I’m not a full-time web designer. I do a lot of design, spread around a few different areas. I have designed and coded a few websites, nothing big and nothing still online to show off. I am fairly obsessed with user interface design. I certainly don’t know it all. This is just my opinion.

I don’t want to waste a billionty words praising something over and over. The list of improvements on here is much much longer than the things I like, but I’m not doing this to blow smoke up someone’s butt, I’m doing this to point out things I think need some improvement. 😀 Also, if you worked on part of the website and find my words harsh at times, I do sincerely apologize, but please remember that I am talking about the thing (points to website) and not you personally.

On the whole, this is actually a glowing review. I think that there’s a lot of good stuff going on here, but does need some work still, in my opinion.

Here’s what I love:

  • I think it’s actually pretty damn good!
  • I like the structure.
  • I love the visual imagery aspect.
  • I really like the layout. I love it has no 1 focus. Someone somewhere (sorry, I dont remember anymore) pointed out that it’s much like second life with many options and many focuses. People can connect with their interests quicker.
  • I think it touches on/is working toward something that I’ve long thought was missing: trying to commicate SL’s possibilities to the various types of audiences with various types of backgrounds that use SL.
  • I like the black background. Many have ripped apart that aspect, but it’s actually very effective to eliminate the “page” so to speak and let the images pop. Much like a good movie theater screen is bordered in black. Also, ever look at photographer’s websites/portfolios? It’s very, very common that they have black or dark backgrounds. I’m not always a fan of the black background website, but I think it’s used effectively here. I would agree with Vint that adding a bit of depth/some reflections couldn’t hurt.
  • I like having little videos to showcase some of the common activities. These loaded quickly for me.
  • It validates.
  • I definitely think it’s a step in the right direction.

BUT..

It’s not perfect.

My critisims:

  • When images are disabled, you lose all the header links, only a text link version of the logo that links back to the same page is left. Footer text links are fine.
  • I wish the edges would move a little faster. If I’ve got my mouse jammed all the way to the edge of the browser window, it means move to the center, nao!
  • Some of the imagery is a little….I don’t know. There seems to be two extremes going on here: either have avatar filling frame (so all avatar, effectively no background) or all background with no avatar for a majority of the pictures. And some of the landscapes are too far away/wide for the small image. FAR too many images have no people (avatars) in them. Actually, an absurd amount. I get what you’re doing here, but it needs some serious new images. Would love to see a lot more images with foreground avatar off to one side with location over shoulder/behind, or avatar engrossing in world, or something with an avatar. Let us see that personal connection, and also show off the variety of avatars and second life residents. When looking at a row of images, at least 80% should have people in them if not more!… and not always tiny specs or taking up the whole frame.
  • One good example with a decent avatar and place mix is the image from the visit mexico sims with the copy title “Far Away, So Close.” (ohhh look you made me make a pun, you guys!) You could definitely get in closer to the avatar yet, too, but that’s a decent balance.
  • There shouldn’t be any pics that are pre-windlight. Sorry, but I just hate the pre-windlight sky. It looks horrible.
  • More on the images….does the image have to be center-punched? I realize that as is, the anim has it being forced this way, but have you tried NOT center-punching but finding the best thumbnail and during the expansion anim, letting it slide into place as it expands?(but keeping the rollover state the same mini-grow as it is now) This might not work, dunno, just a random suggestion that would open up the possibilities more for the images.
  • Videos: love this idea. Unfortunately, I’m honestly not in love with the videos themselves. I’ll critique these one by one, since this area is actually more my RL area of expertise. But on the whole, most of the shots in these videos are too wide to see whats going on, have too many unmotivated dissolves, show too many things that “look nice” but don’t really pertain or give information, and don’t showcase what I think is “SL’s” finest or enough of the possibilities.
    • Shopping starts off ok, but then dissolves into a mess of some tiny text on a screen that even is hard for me to see whats going on, and believe me, I know how shopping works! 😀 First, the framing is too small, and it seems you are trying to go into too much detail for this little thing. this isn’t a training video on how to open a box after buying it. Keep it simple. Show more than a woman shopping, perhaps also show a man buying a gadget then using it, etc. Or show how someone can change their whole look in an instant, to an animal or robot or…yea, you get the idea.
    • Building looks pretty boring, sitting down and playing with some plywood? why not show the progression of rezzing the first cube to.. some walls are up… to… texturing… to the final thing? …Also I have a quibble: building is not the only kind of creative activity available. May I suggest the word CREATE rather than build? then you can add in creating clothes, gadgets, scripting, etc. Or heck, make that a separate pod!
    • Dance one is ok — but there are better looking locations in SL. Why do we need to look at the DJ so much? Some of these shots are pretty bleh. That dance floor is distracting to look at. This one should feel a bit more like a fast cut music video.
    • Learn is not bad. The shots are too wide/far away. do we have to use the biggest hugest classroom? The last shot has way too much headroom, I feel like I should be looking at something on the ceiling. These videos are just too small to be so wide.
    • Flirt…not a fan of the this one. The laugh seems…well, laughable. Cringe-worthy. Walking on the path seems cheesy, or maybe only because we held on the shot too long. Aand what are they walking toward???  Theres a billionty places you could go with this area, and this one just falls flat to me. What about a romantic dance? What about showing a few different couples engaging in flirting of different types/at different locations?
    • Play… I couldn’t even get to the end, because that’s about as far as an ADD gamer is gonna get. It took forever to show anything that wasn’t a location or some person just standing around, which is no different than any of the other images all over the page. Show some people doing combat-y things in the first shot! And showing “games” in every.single.shot. Save the cool landscape flyovers.
  • (psst: Linden Lab if you need someone to create some new videos for this area, I am available for hire! Seriously.)
  • It’s interesting to me that these lil vids have no sound. Perhaps give them sound and a button to turn sound off/down in the lil vid window. But then that begs the question, what kind of sound to use? music? a voice reading ad copy?…..I think it depends on the vid. I think the vids would come to life more with some sound, whether atmospheric, music or ppl using voice! How cool would the “flirt” one be if you could hear two people flirting over voice??
  • If theres a rhyme or reason to the order of the images, its not clear. So I don’t think there is. Should there be?
  • missing pods (I’m referring to each little clickable image area with a title and associated video as a “pod”)
    • Create — build, making clothing, make gadgets, and sell them pod –more goal-oriented pods like that.
    • Make Friends. Social aspect is very big in SL. Explore. Is a better title Socialize
    • Connect with like minded ppl with your interests thru groups ….
    • Education
    • Business
  • Some of the copy is a bit mundane.  It needs some voice, some serious catchy copyrighting. On a first run through I had not clicked on that many images so far and ran into the same text quite a few times about 3D spaces to share with your friends. That was annoying, since I know there’s a lot about Second Life to share. Each image should have it’s own unique text blurb.
  • The text on the “shop” pod says something about “shopping safely” …feels wierdly like they are trying to convince us. Like by bringing it up, it’s begging the question and making me think it might NOT be safe. Is this shown to be a real concern with new residents that shopping is not safe?

That’s I got, folks! Agree? Disagree? Don’t care? Comment. 🙂

(Edited to add: I’m gonna add anything new I think of to the comments.)

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One Response to “New Second Life Homepage: An Assessment”

  1. QueenKellee Kuu December 29, 2008 at 9:16 pm #

    -Here’s something that just occurred to me: Have a lil play icon under the title on the pods that have videos. I actually clicked on these with titles last (I dunno why)…. but if I knew from a glance that there was a video to be watched I would have clicked them first.

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