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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Christmas Cutenessssss

21 Dec

Snowman glow bug

Poor poor pooooor bloggy. It thinks I really hate it. It found about the plurking, see, and now it knows and I cannot go on lying and saying I’m too busy trying to open my store or whatever other excuse I make for not blogging.

…bloo–blog!blog! Calm down! But, see, I am with you right now! Lookit! It’s that what matters? Now? ….It’s not out of guilt, honest! Why can’t I love you both? You’re different. Different functions. You are who I turn to when I need a nice long ramble, free of 140 word constraints and  tiny text boxes.

Do I love the plurk more? Pfft…that’s like comparing apples and oranges. That’s for the fluff. You are my meat and potatoes. Here is about quality over quantity. …What? Ok, you’re right. I actually do kind of randomly ramble here, and don’t really think out or really edit my posts. But you’re my blog, I get to do that! We have that special kind of connection.

Like now, for instance. I’m just making my readers read this drivel, simply because it was a fast and easy way to slap some text down errr gently lay down some love words to go with a few pictures I managed to flickr.

Which reminds me: I’m sorry, general readership, for making you read my general rambles today! But…*offers kyoot picture?*

We got spirit yes we do

Updates

15 Dec

Still not done, but getting closer.

My first outfit is “done-ish”…It’s still going to undergo a few last minute changes, but I’ve informed it’s namesake and let them see a copy of the work so far. Yay!

Ohhh also also also! Both outfits have some scripted interactive texture change loveliness and and adn adn I scripted it all by myself!! (Well, me and the lsl wiki of course). Of course these are very basic scripts but I think I’m *finally* getting a grasp on LSL…woot woot!

Now working on outfit #2 things that need finishing….the pants mostly. Gah. I’m afraid of pants. Actually, when I worked on the pants last time I was afraid but I found it fun, but now I’m avoiding the finishing and the…you guessed it, wrinkles. They are truly the bane of my existance. I know that I’m horribly hard on myself because I’ve come to realize that other people’s wrinkles, even when they aren’t done that wonderfully, don’t bother me much. But my own….99% of the time they just look like I’m drawing white and black lines all over, and I can’t get that out of my mind when I look at them! Also, it doesn’t help that what looks darn good in photoshop often does not once on the avatar. I am having some success, don’t get me wrong, but it takes me doing it 4 or 8 or 56487 times before I’m happy.

That’s also why the past 2 days I took a little break from working on stuff. I did the poco locos avatar hunt (and won the CUUUUTEST lil snowman AV!) and started the POE hunt.

I’m not new to creative work, so I know when I need a little distance and I can afford the time, I will do it. And I have! Not that I’ve completely taken the past few days off…I’ve been working on:

Looking into the gift card thing and….ugh. !!

It’s more than just a gift card system, it’s also vendor systems (didn’t think I needed a vendor system per say but realized that if I get a gift card system, both I’m looking at include this so it makes the decision more complicated). The gift card system *everyone* has (it seems) is……omg so expensive. so expensive that I wouldn’t be able to open with it, it would have to be a month or so in when I have more inventory and can run a gift card sale to pay for the costs. Unless I go the hippo route, which has a gift card module and is much more affordable, but I need to do a bit more research into the workings of the hippo system. what I absolutely don’t want is a vendor that only delivers boxes. *must* be folders. nor do I want a system that works on left click and then assumes you have a giftcard and you have cancel out of a million blue menus when you don’t. I hate that.

Toying with subscribo vs. hippogroups. But most likely will be hippogroups. Subscribo tries to lure you in with free for the first 500 and even reasonablish price up to 1000 but after that the price skyrockets soooo much it’s just insane. But subscribo is better known and “more recognizable” (black easel, lil green light, you know it’s a subscribo), but I’m not sure if that really matters if I place the group join kiosk in a good place with clear infos.

I also finally rented the spot next to my store (I now have rented the plots on either side) and have a spot to put my Happy Mood tree! And also conviently move a few outside decor items over just a meter or two so I have more prims for my store 🙂 Eventually this will be where I sell some furnitures…for now will be a relaxing spot with a workspace in the sky.

Also, I FINALLY joined Plurk. I tried searching for people but I already hate that I can’t search for people? I managed to find Alicia, and then got frustrated. So take pity on me and add me!

Sorry this post was so boring! When my store is open I promise I won’t drivel on as much about boooring business stuffs. As much. ;p

Not Gonna Make It

6 Dec

Soooo it’s pretty clear to me that I’m not going to be able to open Sunday. Still just too much to do. Not surprising, really, considering I haven’t yet seen this process all the way to completion. I wasn’t really sure how long it would all take.  And I don’t want to rush too much or not really finish an item to my happiness, just so I can say “I’m open”.  I created the arbitrary date, I can’t certainly change it. I am the Queen, after all. 🙂

But it will be soon. I’m getting close. It’s just that every time I feel like I’m real close I realize another 10 steps I need to do that I didn’t realize before. No biggie, it’s all a learning process.

So at this point I’ll open when I’m ready. Obviously I’ll post here when that happens!

Question for the Hive Mind

1 Dec

Does anyone have suggestions about a good gift card system? Even if it’s just from hearing about it, not using it as a vendor. Or any gift card systems to avoid. I’m having a terrible time finding these, and this isn’t a product you want a fly-by-night/cheapie that might not work right or could be hacked. Also I need a system with some options, like being able to have gift card sales, etc etc etc.

Normally I wouldn’t worry so much about getting a gift card system up right away, but ‘Tis The Season and to not have something available is shooting yourself in the foot. All items in my store will be copy/mod/no trans, but I will also have a gift vendor with no copy/mod/trans items. One bonus is that if you receive a no copy/mod/trans item as a gift and prefer the other permissions (copy/mod/notrans), you can do a 1 time, 1 way exchange. But I plan on tons and tons and tons of cool customer service type stuffs. Some of which won’t be available right away because they will require some high-end custom scripting (so not telling quite yet).

Which is another thing…know any brilliant scripters that do custom work? Not for right away, but perhaps starting within the next month or so.

On another note, in the wrinkles vs. sanity battle, I’m starting to pull ahead ever so slightly. More importantly, actually enjoying the process some! It feels good to finally get some use out of my Wacom tablet I’ve had for 3 years and have hardly used.

I hate making wrinkles

29 Nov

First of all: Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! We can officially declare the beginning of Turkey Leftover/Christmas season.

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo— I’m getting really close to opening my store. Like, close enough that I decided to pick an opening date by standing blindfolded in front of a calendar and lobbing a dart at it. (Figuratively, gentle readers. I would never wield a dart at an innocent calendar.)

So before I back out I have to blert it out real quick.

December 7. That’s a Sunday. In a weekish from now.

!!!

OMG! Now I really have to do it because I said it outloud in public.

So, I’ll open with *at least* 3 outfits (6 colors each); only women’s stuff to start but I promise men’s stuff soonish. Heck, if I’m crazy I just might be able to finish 1 of the men’s outfits to open, we’ll see. And maybe more, but I doubt it. I’m still not finished with the 3 yet, and with recolorings, uploading, ad pictures, boxing and whatever else I need to do before……we’ll be lucky if I actually open on time!

In the meantime, I’ll be cursing seams and willing to sell my soul to the devil and make him a full partner in my business if he’d only do all my wrinkles. I hate making wrinkles.

I’ve locked myself in my skybox and am working like a bat outta hell to finish. So I’m reeeallll boring right now, and reeealll distracted. And spending a lot of time with SL open but working in about 6 other apps. I’m excited to finish, but I’m also excited for a day off where I can just go explore and do normal SL stuff. Which will be my reward when I open! Soon soon…:)

Back Again

17 Nov

Santa Ana

…and I’m back.

Well, I’ve been back. But mostly uninspired for a time. Spending a little too much time inside my own head.

But I’m feeling better now; hoping it lasts.

Anyhow, I’ve started being productive again! Plans for taking over the (virtual) world are back on track. I’m making stuff, including Mad Plans. I’m taking another stab at rolling around in LSL and hoping some more of it sticks (and it already seems to be, even if just a wee bit). Been also working on some (very simple) sculpties in Sculptypaint. Finishing some building stuff, working on some clothes and furnitures….

And I’m back to blogging.

I will admit having a love/hate relationship with my blog. It’s my blog, right? Then why do I often get this “mehhh I shouldn’t blog this, it’s silly/I’m ranting to hear myself talk” feeling when I am mid-post and ditch it.

So I’m trying to stop that. I promise I’ll try not to post drivel, but I am going to make a concerted effort to post more often on a wider variety of topics, from fluff to silly to serious.

I guess the proof will be in the pudding. But only if it’s tapioca.

(wait…what?!?)

Hopeful