Big Spaceship Wins Second Life UX Project

By Matt Van Hoven 

Big Spaceship, the same digital agency that brought you the HBO Voyeur Web site, announced their win of Second Life creator Linden Lab today, for a project that aims to “develop a new user experience strategy for both the web and viewer interfaces” for Second Life.

Big Spaceship’s challenge is to reignite Second Life, and in the words of founder Mike Lebowitz, doing that requires developing “a strategy that will allow new users to jump over what is now a very steep learning curve.”

Using Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs, Lebowitz said his agency will develop prototype interfaces for the web and the viewer. We’ll just have to wait for one to surface before we understand what that will look like.

More: “Amanda Van Nuys, Organic’s VP Marketing, Heads to Second Life

In late April of this year, Mark Kingdon left ad agency Organic, where he was CEO, to take a job running Linden Labs. Second Life has been edging nearer to obscurity over the past two years, and pairing with Big Spaceship was probably a step in the right direction; though only time will tell.

But two new interfaces are just part of the puzzle. To help grow the business, Kingdon recently hired Amanda Van Nuys, a former corporate communications rep. at Organic. Van Nuys told us late last week that she left Organic to take a position at Linden Lab/Second Life.

There, she’ll “run the company’s enterprise marketing department, which involves ‘helping companies use virtual world technologies to conduct virtual meetings, training, collaboration, etc.'”

Hmm. Leave one struggling company for another? At least she got out of advertising for the time being; though Second Life is dependent to some extent on the same financial resources as the ad industry.

The issue SL seems to be facing is usability; if Lebowitz’s task is to help “new users to jump over what is now a very steep learning curve” one can safely assume that SL believes its problem is a high barrier to entry. Whether or not that’s actually the case, the challenge is suited for Big Spaceship, which has built its reputation on creating effective interfacing technology.

And Kingdon’s no stranger to lifting a company up by its bootstraps, which could make him the right leader for the job. After the dot com bust, he helped rebuild Organic by winning clients like Chrysler and Bank of America. And if Van Nuys, Big Spaceship and improving the UX pan out, he’ll have quite a resume. Here’s to waiting.