June 2022 Web User Group: Premium Plus Update + Marketplace rebuild

1 month ago 12
The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes cover the key points from the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, June 1st, 2022.

These meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month, with dates and venue details available via the SL public calendar. They are usually chaired by Reed Linden, who is the Lab’s Product Manager for the Second Life front-end web properties (Marketplace, secondlife.com, the sign-up pages, the Lab’s corporate pages, etc.).

A video of the meeting, courtesy of Pantera, can be found embedded at the end of this article (my thanks to her as always!), and subject timestamps to the relevant points in the video are provided. Again, the following is a summary of key topics / discussions, not a full transcript of everything mentioned.

Premium Plus

[Video: 2:17-8:30]

  • Premium Plus will officially launch during SL19B (Thursday, June 16th through to Sunday, June 26th, 2022).
  • Grumpity Linden (VP of Operations) and Patch Linden (VP) of Product Operations will be discussing Premium Plus – price, benefits, etc.), during interviews at SL19B (dates TBC)).
  • The price will (obviously) be “more” than Premium, but there will be an initial “discount” for those signing-up following release.
  • Indicated initial benefits include:
    • More: free tier than Premium’s 1024 sq m; stipend; group slots.
    • Lower fees for uploads (excluding mesh initially, as the upload fees for this are calculated differently, so the hope is to offer discounted mesh loads after Premium Plus has been deployed).
  • “Future benefits” being considered for “the future”:  new region types; new Linden Home types; potentially discounts for options such as Name Changes, mobile applications (not defined), “priority access to some areas” (again not defined).

Search Update

[Video: 8:40-10:36]

  • As noted in past WUG summaries, the Lab is working to improve Search results relevance. This work is now progress.
  • The SL Search engine uses an Elasticsearch instance, and the third-party contracted-in to work with LL has Elasticsearch expertise.
  • In particular, work has been focused on building “search relevance engine” machine learning tool, designed to observe how Search performs and gradually improving the relevancy of results.
  •  Additionally, a number of fixes are being developed for common issues (e.g. search for an item by its name, but it doesn’t top the results list).
  • It is hoped this work should start surfacing in July(ish).

Marketplace Overhaul

[Video: 12:30-57:29]

  • The development of the listing Styles – formerly called listing variance,  the ability to have a single listing for an item that has multiple individual colour options that would otherwise have to be individually listed) -has been on-going for some time.
  • All of the backend infrastructure and database updates are now in place.
  • HOWEVER – in order to implement the capability, the front-end of the Marketplace effectively has to be re-built. Because of this, LL is considering a complete rebuild of the Marketplace “from the ground up”.
  • To this end, a portion of the meeting was spent discussing what form the MP might take to meet the needs of both merchants and shoppers, e.g.
    • What should it look like?
    • What features / capabilities are important to merchants or shoppers (either within the existing MP or that they would like to see added)?
    • What features / capabilities within the existing MP require improvement / replacing and how / why?
  • A further recognition of the need for a complete rebuild is that the MP is often the “front page” of Second Life for the user community, in that it is the web property that is most often used by residents (It also has a reasonably high visibility on the web in general), and thus needs to reflect this.
  • The plan is to discuss these points (and others raised by the Lab / meeting attendees) over the next few meetings.
  • Feedback from this meetings included:
    • Look and accessibility: more in the way of an Amazon style of look / feel (including the “Users who bought this also bought” type of section); better integration with tools like screen readers / magnifiers; better recognition of screen resolution / size and scales the UI to suit; an ability to produce short links to listings.
    • Search: more relevancy when searching for items (which will hopefully come out of the Search overhaul); ability to filter-out specific stores from search results; ability to have store names listed as a search result option; ability to add an item to the shopping cart directly from a Search results list (rather than having to open the product listing page and add from there).
    • Refunds / Redeliveries: the ability to allow refunds and prevent the redelivery of an item for which a refund has been given (BUG-226218); the ability to redeliver directly from the listing page.
    • Social Media integration: improved capabilities to offer You Tube links and links to Instagram accounts (e.g. for product preview images), etc. Seen as possible, with the caveat that apps like Instagram use tracking pixels, etc., so linking would be depending on negotiations around this (LL do not as a rule allow user data tracking).
    • Improved co-ordination between MP and in-world stores:  an ability for merchants to update their in-world store location globally, rather than by editing all listings; the ability to have an MP store better reflect the in-world store (e.g. if a creator had a store that has multiple “departments” or “mini stores” within it, these can be reflected as “sub-brands” or “sub-stores” within the MP, and if one of these “sub-stores” is renamed (either on the MP or in-world), the change is reflected on the other).
    • Tools for merchants: improved analytics / metrics on store performance / listing performance; options for applying discounts / promotional codes on selected items.

There were also a number of non-specific recommendations “make it better”; “better tools to deal with negative / inaccurate reviews”, etc., that will require more clarity / granularity as to what is desired.

Suggestions have been (and will be at upcoming meetings) recorded by LL, and will form the basis for both internal discussions and more idea generation at the next WUG meeting.

Timeframe and Approach

Assuming this goes ahead:

  • In rebuilding the new Marketplace, the ability to migrate existing listings from the current MP to the new MP would be factored in; precisely what form this would take has yet to be fully determined..
  • In reality, it is unlikely any form of initial “new MP” will be available until some time in 2023; the focus at the moment is purely trying to road map capabilities, features, design, with user input.

“Land Journey” Refresh

[Video: 57:30-58:33]

  • The next major web project will be a refresh of all aspects of land sales – the Land Store, how Linden Homes are offered / selected; how land for sale is located, how it can be rented (and from whom), etc.
  • This work likely will not include the return of land auctions by users, unless a system can be developed that avoids abuse and can pay for its cost of implementation / management.

Published by Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life, VR, virtual environments and technology.

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