In 2009, I led the interaction design for a relaunch of the user experience of Second Life, as part of an agency team called 80/20 Studio.
We began with the stakeholders’ directive to focus on new user growth. The onboarding experience needed to be more approachable — to a wider audience — while preserving features and creative depth for veteran users. They had a serious conversion problem: People would download the client, look around with confusion, leave, and never return — at a rate of over 50%.
In addition, we were tasked with re-thinking the notifications and in-world communication systems. Social media had risen as the earlier ‘viewer’ had aged, and there was a strong desire to create social I/O to Twitter, Facebook and other networks from within the client, embeded into the world experience.
The resulting design built upon the familiarity of web browsers: URI and search bars, stronger sense of location and addressing, and simpler controls for chat, voice, friend management, and social connections.
“The resulting redesign helped Second Life reach their goal of increasing active users by 40%, to 1 million. New user attrition has dramatically decreased. This is the biggest and most successful overhaul of the Second Life experience since its creation in 2003.” (Source 80/20)