All I want is an admission…

I don’t usually talk about Second Life stuff here, as this is primarily a blog about design (which world it occurs in is rather irrelevant.) However, since today was the day of Philip Linden’s return to SL and his big meeting with the residents (along with BK Linden who has a convenient twitter account) I find myself needing a place to say something in slightly more than 140 characters.

Honest, guys, this won’t happen often. Bear with me.

After reading the recaps (I was asleep when all of this went down), and seeing the responses on varying blogs and the twitterverse in general, I want to point something out.

What seems clear to me, speaking as someone with my varied and often dubious qualifications for doing so, is that at this point in time, the SL userbase is divided into subgroups (and here’s the punchline, don’t miss it) whose needs and goals do not overlap very much.

I’ll make my point in one sentence:

There is no longer a viable way to create a magic bullet, catch all solution.

This is, unfortunately, inconvenient. It is not, however, inherently BAD.

I have long said that the real issue, the one which *all others* stem from is customer service. The problem is that now, in SL the needs of users are wildly divergent. I think that at this point, this needs to be acknowledged and accepted. All I want at this point is an admission that this is so.

At this point it seems to me there are several clear cut user groups whose needs must be identified and met(and I may well be missing some). Some of these groups overlap, but not enough to provide a catch-all.

1. Sim owners/concierge service.
2. Business owners and content creators.
3. RL business concerns with presence within SL.
4. Educators, and their students.
5. New Residents.
6. Genpop.
7. (and this really is added at the end because it’s real, but it’s a strange duck) people who are running SL on limited computer resources.

When you identify these groups, you not only see they have different (mildly overlapping but not that much) customer service needs and questions, but different VIEWER needs.

Which brings me to this:
I think that LL, cannot by definition, create a catch-all viewer or customer service experience. I truly think they need a different approach, because the way it’s been done up until now *will no longer work*, guys. Honestly.

I am not saying that the other things brought up in today’s meeting are of no or little importance. But I don’t see anyone so far who has made this point in this way as of yet, and I wanted it out there.

I now return this blog to its usual rantings about design.

Reminder: It’s not about you.

I know, I’ve said this before. Apparently, we need a refresher course.

This morning, a question was asked about “aesthetic theory” or something like that. Basically it was asking designers and architects why they feel compelled to talk about some kind of overriding aesthetic concept/principles when clients rarely prioritize the theory behind such things. Lots of answers.

Question:

The number of clients who are interested in the aesthetic philosophy behind a project is minimal #justsaying so why do architects bang on?

The answers ranged, but several were super disappointing, dripping with arrogance and barely concealed disdain for clients as a whole.

My answer:
Holdover from arch/design school. all asked to justify our projects in this way, even tho clients dont care about that.

It’s true. We’re required to justify entire design philosophies, even beyond concept, lest we be accused of “putting something in because it looks nice.” Every decision we make MUST be justifiable in some larger sense.

What’s also true is that clients usually don’t care. They care about whether or not it looks good and how much it costs. They rarely go farther than that because hey, isn’t that what they hired you for?

However back to the arrogant responses(which I am not reprinting)- once again, let’s remind everyone that ultimately, it’s not about the designer. It’s about the client. And when the client *MAKES* it about the designer, I suggest you should be concerned, because that says to me that the client is less concerned with their own project and more concerned about whatever perceived “status” they’re getting out of it. Truly, if that concept rocks your socks, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know that about you.

Check your overinflated ego and remember that what you design is about your client. YOUR job is to coalesce their wants, needs and desires, create a package that meets them (and their overall aesthetic preferences), and prevent them from doing something illegal, unsafe or grotesquely stupid, while working within the budgetary constraints they have. Really, that about covers it.

Aesthetics aren’t about you. They are about *them*. You should be able to design things that they love, but you wouldn’t choose for yourself if it were the last available design on Earth. You should be able to design outside your own narrow personal aesthetic preferences (and if you can’t, please send your job to me, because I can, and your clients deserve better than you’re giving them.)

You *SHOULD* be able to justify any design choice you make. But not by some abstract aesthetic theory. This isn’t design/arch school. By showing how each and every choice relates to the needs *THEY* lined out in the programming (brief) phase. That’s how this game is played.

FFS, it isn’t about you. It’s about the people you’re there to help. LEARN IT.