One of the problems with increasing user-retention in Second Life is, well, pretty simply that for 99 (or more) out of 100 people who don’t stick around (or don’t even log in), we never find out why.
Oh, we can guess at it. We can say “Well, Second Life is confusing.” or “The viewer UI is terrible!”
But we don’t actually know that for sure that those are the problems. The problem essentially is that we don’t know what the problems are.
You don’t know and I don’t know. Linden Lab might have some clues if they’ve studied this intensively enough, but the rest of us don’t have much of an idea.
Every day somewhere between approximately 9,000 and 13,000 new Second Life accounts get created.
Some of them may not log in the first time for days, weeks, or months after that. We don’t know how many.
Some of them don’t ever log in at all. We don’t know how many of those there are, but it might be about 8 percent based on some numbers I’ve seen.
As for the rest, we don’t know why they go, because when they decide to log out and never come back, they don’t actually tell anyone. It isn’t like they run into a problem with orientation, or the UI or lag and grab someone and say “Hey, X is a problem, so I’m leaving now.”
No, they just log off and that’s it.
And there’s the nub of the problem with improving the new user experience.
We don’t know what, exactly, each of their problems are or how important they are in absolute numbers. Without that information, we can’t say that making any specific change would be better.
Oh, lots of us will say that sort of thing anyway, but the odds of success are extraordinarily low. We’re just guessing based on our own experiences, and the experiences of new users that we’ve met… and those people are the ones who didn’t have the problems that we’re all hoping to fix. They either didn’t notice them, or overcame them without giving it much thought.
Unfortunately, they’re not representative of the 99% or so who don’t make it.
We all agree that there’s a problem, and we’re all proposing solutions, but the simple fact is that none of us truly has any idea about what the problems actually are and which of those problems are the really important ones.
Linden Lab maybe has some answers as to what the problems are. They’ve done studies, surveys, focus groups and usability tests. It’s possible they have some information that could be shared, and lead to possible solutions in the viewer that might help.
But without data, we’re just rolling dice, espousing our own personal preferences and trying to sound authoritative.