Re: Are "Easy Buttons" important in a Windows software installer?

Subject: Re: Are "Easy Buttons" important in a Windows software installer?
From: RÃdacteur en chef <editorialstandards -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2012 13:30:01 -0400

The situation is one where we produce multiple variant hardware products:
- a PCI-bus card for installing in computers
- a separate enclosed-in-a-box version that can connect to a computer via
- a stand-alone network-attached appliance version that goes in lights-out
server farms
- some peripheral hardware items that might or might not be needed with
any of the main items, above.

Formerly, we provided a software-driver-tools-and-SDK CD/DVD for each
product and for each peripheral device.

Most customers favored one or another product and bought, and deployed,
dozens or hundreds of just one kind. A smaller percentage of customers had
need for two or three different product variants (in whatever quantities),
and so they'd end up with a stack of CDs, often at different release

We decided to create a single common installer CD that would advance in
lock-step with whatever was the newest-released product variant.

The first pass that I've seen does the intro screens and then dumps the
customer directly into the Custom install screen. By default, all options
are selected (no worries, they are not huge files, and the SW and drivers
don't conflict). But many customers will need/want only the set that
applies to the actual hardware product they've bought. So I favor preceding
the Custom screen with one where they get product buttons (with
descriptions) that they can select or not. If you want two or three, or all
the peripherals and APIs and toolkits, you can just click all the buttons
in sight before clicking [ Next ]. (There would be an All button for the
"I can't decide, they all look so yummy" crowd, too, as well as a Custom
button at the bottom for power users.)

In my fantasy, if you just want some, you select just those few. Clicking [
Next ] brings you to a page that summarizes what you chose and gives you a
chance to go [ Back ] or to [ Continue ].

So my question is from the point of view of a techwriter with some minor
clout trying to decide which approach to recommend on behalf of customers
in general. I think people have been trained to see "Custom" as the
power-user, "I've done this before, lots" option, and to expect "Easy
Buttons" for standard installs. The situation is clouded by the Common
Installer which will include software and options for products and
components that many (most?) customers have not bought. I favor not
throwing them into the apparent deep end when all that (large) subset of
purchasers wants is software to run the single version of hardware that
they've actually received.

What I want to know is not so much what you as a techno-geek favor for
yourself, but what you'd favor on behalf of your customers (more and more
of whom are less techno-geekish than has been the case in the past).

Before I perform the usual techwriter function of putting lipstick on a
pig, I favor a little intervention at the design/implementation stage in
order to get the prettiest, friendliest pig possible, so it'll need the
least lipstick. Ahem.


2012/4/10 Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>

> I'm of the camp that when I buy a product, I want to install
> everything it comes with. It used to be that you had to do this via
> Custom, but developers seemed to have wisened up over the turn of the
> century. ;) So I always look for a "Full Installation" option first.
> But it really comes down to the type of product you're installing.
> What are the exact product use cases? Are certain components required
> of specific people in a specific workflow? Does it make sense (or not)
> for someone to install everything? If 2 components are needed, is
> there an easy button for that or does the person have to either run
> the installer twice or avoid easy buttons and just go custom? Does
> that make sense for your target users and will they understand and
> enjoy the process you designed for them?
> On Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 11:20 AM, RÃdacteur en chef
> <editorialstandards -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> > For Windows software installers, notably when there are optional items
> (or
> > perhaps multiple products) would you favor an installer that takes you
> > directly to the Custom page (the one with tree view on the left, and
> > 140-character descriptions in the right-hand pane for whatever was
> > currently highlighted in the tree?
> >
> > OR, would you favor an installer that presented a bunch of pre-packaged
> > install options with "radio buttons" to select some or all, and an option
> > at the bottom to choose "Custom", only if the pre-packaged choices were
> not
> > suitable? The ready-made "Easy Buttons" would each install individual
> > product configurations, complete with DLL, driver, utilities for the
> > product represented by that button. Press one button, you have everything
> > you need for that one product/config. Press more than one, and you have
> > everything you need to run two or more products/configs, and maybe some
> > optional peripheral items if you chose their Easy Buttons, too. Each
> button
> > has a title and then a text summary beside it.... you've all seen this
> > forever, on most of the software you've installed, I'm sure.
> >
> > The argument in favor of dumping customers (both highly technical and
> > not-so-techie) directly into the Custom page, with no Easy Button page,
> is
> > that it's easier to program and is streamlined, and they can see all the
> > possible options and combos in the tree view anyway.
> >
> > If you think I described the situation clearly, why do you favor one
> > approach over the other?
> --
> Bill Swallow
> Content Solutions Manager
> GlobalScript, a division of LinguaLinx

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Are "Easy Buttons" important in a Windows software installer?: From: RÃdacteur en chef
Re: Are "Easy Buttons" important in a Windows software installer?: From: Bill Swallow

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