Installation of Applications, Updates, Plug-ins, Etc.
Users who are enlightened, informed, or entertained are less likely to pull the plug on an installation or exit out of a process. By preparing the user for what to expect or supplying useful information about what’s happening, you’re more likely to keep the user away from hitting that red button in the upper-right corner.
- Don’t add steps without warning the user.
- Do provide meaningful diversions.
Don’t Add Steps Without Warning the User
As previously mentioned, users rely on UI cues to plan their interactions. When the UI reports how much time is needed, or which steps out of how many more total steps are essential, that information affects the user’s decision on whether to proceed. If the user is two minutes away from making a presentation to a crowd of 5,000 at a national convention, she may not want to proceed with the minor update that will take 15 minutes and require a reboot.
When the progress indicator suggests that 99% of the installation is completed, users expect to be able to start using your solution at any moment—not find another step to install additional components, clean up temporary files, etc. If the main part of your installation is taking 10 minutes and a cleanup component needs 1 minute, you’re better off reporting a single installation process that requires 11 minutes, rather than two discrete installation steps, one requiring 10 minutes and another requiring another minute.
Do Provide Meaningful Diversions
Many lengthy installations display information about the solution being installed, and theoretically this technique helps to make time fly for the user. This trick can backfire, however, because it works only when the diversion itself carries some meaning or value for the user (see Figure 2).
Make your diversion as engaging and interactive as possible. Theme parks are the champions in applying this technique to popular rides that have extremely long lines. With novel, instructional, or entertaining content installed along the lines, people tend to forget how long they’ve been waiting. Note that the objective here is to use the time to distract users from the wait by offering something that’s of value to them. As such, this may not be the best time to promote or advertise your other products or services.
Figure 2 In this example of the installation of a game, the diversion during the installation actually gives users a chance to learn about the game, watch a trailer for a movie based on the game, and so forth. This diversion technique works by letting users choose what’s interesting and engaging to them.