“Copying Windows files”, “Getting files ready for installation”, “Installing features” … and so on. Installing Windows 8 is an experience pretty much the same as it’s ever been, where too much information is presented to those who don’t care, and not nearly enough to those who do. On top of that I’m informed that “my computer will restart several times.” Lovely.
Computers used to be the domain of hackers – people, who wanted to push the limits of what’s possible and know all about the machines they were using. Then the PC came along (or the Mac, if you’re that kind of fan) and all sorts of people strolled into the computer world, not always willingly. Most software changed along the way, but the installation processes were mostly left out of the changes.
Every piece of software – as big as an operating system or as small as an instant messenger – should have two modes of installation:
What we’re getting instead is usually a mix of both. Noobs find the installation process too daunting, to the point where they’re just confused and keep clicking “Next”. Freaks find it mostly unsatisfying, distrustful about the installer doing something they would probably not approve of. Nobody’s happy.
Think of installing software as the “unpacking experience”, like Steve Jobs always emphasized it, and Apple continues to do. It’s the first experience a user may have with your application and you want it to be as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Do your users a favor and design your installation process, just like you design your application.
First name, last name, e-mail, telephone, organization, position, marital status, weight, height, size of underpants? How much really do you need to know about your customers when they contact you? A lot, of course. The more you know the better you can understand and serve them. You need to be in constant contact with your customers to keep checking on their changing situation and collect feedback on your actions. But what will all this information be worth if your customer doesn’t contact you at all in the first place? No contact, no contract.
Looking at the form above a prospective customer will likely prefer to grab the phone and call in, rather than fill out all the fields correctly. That is unless she’s a bit phone-shy and won’t get in touch at all. Now if the form is smart with some validation on top of it, that requires filling out all fields, that’ll perfectly add to the frustration. There are always many other companies offering similar services, available just a click away.
Now that is something different. Admittedly the guys from Analog don’t take any new work at the moment (I’m sure they’ve more great projects than they can handle), but they did manage to remove all possible barriers for future customers to contact them. Just click the text field and type, what you like, as much as you like. Then hit submit and we’ll get back to you. That’s implicitly telling to the customer: we’re here for you. We care. It pays.