Note: this is a long post - scroll down to the images to see the potential solution in detail
- IFC and IF have grown, largely independently, into phenomenal products
- There is an opportunity to enhance their combined and standalone values through integration
- Disparate flying skills is the most significant pain-point resulting from a lack of integration today, and impacts user satisfaction and loyalty in a highly negative way
- This issue can be addressed through the combination of: incorporating tutorials into the IF experience, establishing a link between IF and IFC accounts, and providing a mechanism for IF users to contact each other via the IFC
- While solutions like this are not as exciting as a new aircraft or adding clouds, they are essential to maintaining and enhancing the core point of differentiation for IF relative to other flight simulators - the real-time interaction between pilots and ATC
Infinite Flight (the app) and IFC (the community) are each phenomenal offerings that provide a tremendous user experience in their own right. For a large cross-section of users they combine to create a unique experience that drives increased satisfaction, enhanced flying ability, and incredible loyalty.
Unfortunately, there is also a large cross section of users, especially within the App, that are either unaware of IFC or do not leverage it. This drives a host of issues, including a diminished sense of community and increased difficulty accessing support. It also contributes to a large and growing divergence in flying ability across different sections of the IF user base.
It doesn’t take long within IF, or on these forums, to recognize that vastly different flying skills contribute significantly to user frustration and a diminished experience. There are dozens of threads like Most Common TS Habits You Should Leave There Upon Joining Expert that outline the issues and speak to the disappointment many of the most loyal and engaged users feel with the current state of affairs.
This frustration has not gone unnoticed. Significant effort has been invested in generating a phenomenal set of #tutorials to help improve flying skills. In truth, there is no shortage of formal or informal (other topics raised in IFC, training via VAs, etc.) resources available to help users improve their skills, and thus the overall user experience of an app that brings real people together in the same virtual world.
Sadly, there is a lack of integration between IFC and IF to guide users in need towards the great resources that are available. Tutorials have not been fully integrated into the experience, opportunities to point users toward the tutorials have not panned out (“Follow instruction” message), and it is difficult to find the IFC accounts of users. The net result is a system with a combined value less than the sum of its parts.
The following images outline a set of small changes to IF that comprise a two-sided solution that will both push users to IFC resources and pull users toward the IFC by leveraging its strong user base.
A) Pushing users toward the IFC:
The goal here is to enhance the impact of the existing tutorials by making them more visible and integrating them into the IF user experience. The goal is to make it impossible for a user to lack exposure to the resources they need to be a successful pilot in IF.
Image 1: Slight change to the main menu:
Image 2: New ‘Tutorial Center’:
B) Pulling users toward the IFC:
The goal here is to increase interaction between users by reducing barriers to contact each other via the IFC. This requires a formal link between a users IFC account and their IF account, and a mechanism for players to initiate contact that doesn’t come at the expense of the flying experience.
There is also potential for information regarding the requests that drive these interactions, if executed properly, to become a valuable source of data to support further tutorials or other resources to improve the experience (e.g. ability to identify struggling users and target them for further training, ability to diagnose gaps in curriculum via which topics users choose to provide feedback on, etc.).
Image 3: Linking IFC account information to IF account:
Linking to IFC accounts to enable communication through that platform is advantageous vs. building in-app communications for several reasons: it is simpler to execute, places less demand on the servers, and leverages the moderation and compliance assets that have already been created for IFC.
Image 4: Requesting user contact
The button shown would work for pilot-to-pilot and ATC-to-pilot interactions (with potential automatic logging for ghosting). A different interface adjustment would be needed for pilot-to-ATC interactions (not shown).
Image 5: Facilitating high-quality interactions
Disclaimer: There are some loosely related standalone requests that already exist that touch elements of this request (Community link in-app, In-game ATC Tutorials, etc.) While each of those are great in their own regard, and definitely worth checking out, I feel strongly that an integrated solution with both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ elements is required to truly bridge the gap.
What do you think? Is this a step in the right direction?