A review of welcome emails for newbies in Second Life: Part 1

I wanted to continue sharing what happened to me after I survived “Welcome Island” in Second Life in case Linden Labs is interested in feedback on how it feels to experience Second Life for the first time. I genuinely like Second Life and think the benefits are far too hidden inside the current user welcome experience. I hope this review of the welcome materials below will in some small way help to highlight things that might be changed to make things a bit better for the next round of newbies.

During my first week in Second Life, I was feeling a bit lost. I chalked it up to my haste to leave Welcome Island. I figured I had probably inadvertently missed some key piece of information that, had I stayed there longer, would have enlightened me about the next steps on my newbie journey in this strange new land. I now turned hopefully to my email inbox, looking for some hand holding.

Day 1 Email: Welcome to Second Life! Get started with the basics

First email from Second Life to get started

First email from Second Life to welcome new residents

  1. Item A: Explore Now! This takes you to the general Destination Guide. This is useful! It gave me the impression there are some great things on offer here to take a look at, so I bookmarked that link. It was a bit overwhelming in terms of the volume of choices, and I had no way of deciding which places might be good “firsts” to check out. Also, before I jumped straight into checking out some places, I felt like I wanted to get a better grasp on the general premise, what to expect, and how to conduct myself here, so I moved onto item B.
  2. Item B: What is Second Life? This contains a video promising to explain “What is Second Life?” Now that sounded great! I was disappointed that this video simply contained the following explanation for what Second Life is: “A place to connect. A place to shop. A place to work. A place to love. A place to explore. A place to be. Be different. Be yourself. Free yourself. Free your mind. Change your mind. Change your look. Love your look. Love your life. Second Life. Join Today.” Ok, hmmm. I have already joined. Why did they send me the marketing video? Now that I’m in, I want different messaging, like: “We understand that it’s overwhelming, so here’s a loose guide of general steps that many people like to take when they first arrive in Second Life”. Now is not the time to market AT me. Try and engage me please, at the level I am currently at which is something akin to total confusion!  Hold my hand please and let me know you understand!
  3. Item C: Hot Events. This looks interesting. I will save that for later, once I’ve figured out more of the basics.
  4. Item D: Editors’ Picks. Ditto to above. Once I am feeling oriented, I will check that out.
  5. Item E: Help Zones! OK, now we’re onto something! And funnily enough, I totally missed this last item in the intro email. I just noticed it now while writing this blog post. This stuff should have been sent in an email all by itself on Day 1 with a title something like “How to Start Your Second Life”.

I thought for a moment that the Help Zones would contain the holy grail content I had hoped to receive in my first few days in Second Life but when I clicked on the link it took me to a page called “Newcomer Friendly Spots“. Instead of a step by step guide, it’s a four page hodgepodge of random stuff. Nothing seems intentional or designed to speak to the situation I’m currently in. On page 1, I do see 3 items that look like legitimate help, and then some beaches and clubs that are “newcomer friendly” – but I’m not sure what that means. Also on this help page is a link to something called a “Help Island” – but this description does not sound that appealing:

Help Island is an easy to learn island with a freebie mall. Take a boat, land a plane, shoot clay pigeons, you can even learn how to DJ. They also have personal mentors to answer questions. So with tons to do and see, you should check it out.”

Easy-to-learn sounds good, but shooting clay pigeons and learning to DJ both sound like very random offerings when I’m trying to learn how to not bump into stuff, walk in some resemblance of a straight line, keep my clothes on so that I don’t walk around naked, and get up to speed on Second Life as fast as possible. I wonder, “what is a freebie mall and why do I need one?”

The verdict on the day 1 email?

My general impression of the information in this very crucial first email is that it feels more like a data dump than a help guide. There is a good volume of information to explore, however the recipient has to sift through it to make sense of it for themselves. Sifting takes time and discernment and most people at this stage probably don’t have much of either. Also, the way the information is delivered (providing a link to a dynamic webpage), means that the user experience is uncontrolled because the webpage will undoubtedly change over time. This means that each new user is getting a different experience based on what is randomly showing on the website that day.

I think there is a time and place for giving people a lot of choice, but early on in the user experience is not the time for uncurated information. As a first time user, I would prefer a controlled experience and the comforting feeling of a leader or guide or sherpa who will help me down the path towards more competence and away from uncertainty. At this stage, if there was a series of game-like challenges or tests to get me up to speed, then I’d be all over that.

In my next post I’ll talk (more briefly) about the remaining follow up emails I received during my first week and how they contributed to my early days in Second Life.

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4 thoughts on “A review of welcome emails for newbies in Second Life: Part 1

  1. “Shoot clay pigeons”… How utterly random. Yeah, these emails are significantly contributory to the overall new user experience and clearly need a review.

    A data dump is a good way of putting it – and it’s an assessment that doesn’t stop with the new user experience. One might imagine that Linden Lab has so little clarity about what you might be interested in upon sign-up (which might be helped with a – very short – questionnaire) that they’re throwing a bunch of options at you in the hopes that something… anything.. will stick.

    In a way, and this is not to suggest that Second Life should be *anything* like a dating site, but we might do well to learn from the massive experience learned by dating sites, with their very thorough questionnaires that help people find potential matches. It’s also fun for many to fill out interesting questionnaires / quizzes that tell us something about us. People enjoy learning about themselves, and this would be a way of facilitating that from the get go.

    They could even help you customise your avatar out of world on the basis of these interests, before you enter the world, so at least you feel somewhat more invested in your avatar from the get go. I’m just brainstorming here, but you could have a lot of fun with this eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good points you raise here! I often think Linden Lab doesn’t have a real ‘customer service’ department but basically consists of technical IT Dudes and Dudettes and one or two of them are assigned the jobs of Marketing and Social Media as a side kick. And we know…well, I know from experience, those specific roles never really match. Me, in rl, coming from the Customer Service and later IT side have fought many, many battles with Marketing Departments as it is virtually impossible to get things right from all perspectives.

    Techies do not understand customers/users, Marketing/Customer Service does not understand the techy-side (well and often even not users/customers) and there we go: we just pile up some things both parties assume users like and ….done! Simples!
    The fact that SL is so broad and there is so much to do, experience, see..or not do, makes it – I guess – a Marketing and IT nightmare to promote and satisfy all.
    Also considering the users are from all over the globe, making it even more difficult, if not impossible, to cater to all cultural differences/tastes/habits/interests…
    I always tend to give Linden Lab some slack in their, yeah maybe poor, efforts to communicate and market SL. It is therefore also a bit up to the experienced users, residents, to be supportive to newcomers and do their share of helping out?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Caitlin, and yes it’s very true that this marketing job is very complicated with such a broad target in terms of interests, demographics, geographic location etc. As a marketer I have no doubt that this particular marketing job was very likely bolted onto someone else’s current job in the past. I think moving forwards, if the new goal is to attract millions of new users to Second Life, then the Linden marketing function will need to be creatively looked at and reconsidered. I think your point about leveraging experienced users is a good one. If this can be done is a managed fashion, and some kind of role models can be found, this might be a good way to learn about second life and the potential within it. As a newbie, “the next step” seems to be the hardest thing to figure out here. Without a “road map” it’s a strange place to get used to and because of this every contact point that newbie’s have with Second Life is very, very important. Each interaction with LL needs to be considered as a data point that newbie’s are using to decide whether they stay or go.

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  3. Pingback: Day 2: Review of Welcome Materials from Second Life | Ella Brightside: A Newbie's Take on Second Life

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