The survival of contemporary pigeon post

Photo courtesy of Jehanzeb Khan
Photo courtesy of Jehanzeb Khan

I am an inbox-zero advocate, because I like it neat and tidy. I used to label my conversations before I archived them, just to be able to find them easier later, but not any more. Too much hassle.

Sometimes I am amazed that e-mail has survived this long. The technology may be exceptional, but the idea is centuries long. (As is my waiting time before the addressees reply.)

No wonder messaging applications have lately seen such popularity among users. Contemporary communication is on-the-spot. When it isn’t required to be prompt, it is flexible—unconstrained by size, location or type of message.

This post is part of the #blogg100 challenge—100 blog posts à 100 words in 100 days.

What not to say to your customers

What was it you ordered again? Sorry, I’m a little clumsy today. You see, I got a strange telephone call this morning, while I was still asleep. This whole day has been weird.

I was fortunate to be the target audience of this pearl of customer communication in a diner this week. It reminded me that there is a fine line between being friendly and disclosing just about too much.

Interaction with customers seldom constitutes quality time in a familiar setting. It’s comfortably abrupt, moderately open, generally synthetic. Your customer dictates the mood and direction. You just play your part.

This post is part of the #blogg100 challenge—100 blog posts in 100 days.

Analysing thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] pages: Opera

This post is a part of the enterprise I have set out on—an analysis of how different web browser developers use words and images after you have decided to give their product a try by downloading it.

Opera logo
Opera logo

Web browser: Opera

Opera is the fifth and last web browser in my thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] page test. Opera’s thank-you page is clean and simple, with a clear headline, “Thank you for choosing Opera Browser, we hope you enjoy it.”

1. What is about to happen

By removing most of marketing-type of content and only having two sentences taking up the whole page, Opera are sending an unwritten message to the user. “If your download does not start automatically, please click here.” What’s about to happen? The download will start automatically! What’s the unwritten message? Downloading Opera Browser is easy.

Opera’s thank-you page in Safari on OS X
Opera’s thank-you page in Safari on OS X

2. What is required of user

Opera are making a point of ease of installing their browser, too—not just downloading it. The “please click here” bit does it graciously. True, both Chrome and Firefox included a link to force start a download on their thank-you pages. The big difference is though that Opera rely solely on that, without making any assumptions as to what operating system or browser you are using to download their product. The text is the same on both Windows and OS X.

Opera’s thank-you page in Internet Explorer on Windows 7
Opera’s thank-you page in Internet Explorer on Windows 7

3. How to get started

The only way for users to get a hint of how to get started with their new browser is a link Help in their secondary navigation. The link leads users to Opera’s forums, where they are encouraged to search, to see if their question has been posted before.

4. Spreading the love

Opera provide do not let users who chose to give their browser a try to share their choice (just like Firefox).

Other observations

Opera is the only company assuming publicly that users choose to give their browser a try.

Conclusion

My suggestion to Opera is to continue keeping things simple and considering how adding a way for people to share their browser with others might be of use.

Analysing thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] pages: Safari

This post is a part of the enterprise I have set out on—an analysis of how different web browser developers use words and images after you have decided to give their product a try by downloading it.

Safari logo
Safari logo

Web browser: Safari

Safari is the fourth web browser whose thank-you page I am testing. Both Internet Explorer and Safari are hard to find a download page for, since there are many ways to download these two browsers. Just likw with Internet Explorer, there is no Safari thank-you page to analyse. A single get-our-latest-web-browser page from Apple is also as hard to find—there are several. Let’s look at this support page instead of this one, for example.

1. What is about to happen

Just like Microsoft, Apple do not offer any overview of what is about to happen when you click, or have clicked, on their Download button. The only thing that suggests the coming action is the text on the button saying just that, “Download”.

2. What is required of user

Neither do Apple include anything that users are required to do during the download/installation. Very loose system requirements are present though: “Any PC running Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista or Windows 7”. Both Apple and Microsoft seem to rely strongly on the ease of installation of their product.

Safari’s download page in Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7
Safari’s download page in Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7

3. How to get started

Apple do not provide any introduction to Safari for users who decide to download their product. They seem to expect users to know how to operate their newly downloaded addition to the family of programs on their PC.

There only link that vaguely resembles some kind of support with Safari (the link to “detailed information on the security content of this update”, is broken.

4. Spreading the love

There is a way for users to share the download page with their friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. But users are expected to know where to click, in order to do it. (Hint: the icon with a title/tooltip “Share”, good luck!)

Other observations

The download page is part of apple.com, which makes it seem to be consistent with everything Apple. There are ambiguous to a common user codes and ID’s on the download page, like download ID (DL1531) and SHA1 (Windows)= f601df0106987bfffc3f22b046ba835e4f8d29c6, whatever that means.

Conclusion

My suggestion to Apple is to think twice how they want to promote downloading their product on apple.com. The best way would be including a link to a download page on the presentation page of Safari. But that would be too obvious a choice, wouldn’t it?

Last up: Opera. Don’t miss it, follow me on Twitter for updates.

Analysing thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] pages: Internet Explorer

This post is a part of the enterprise I have set out on—an analysis of how different web browser developers use words and images after you have decided to give their product a try by downloading it.

Internet Explorer logo
Internet Explorer logo

Web browser: Internet Explorer

Version: 10

Internet Explorer is the third web browser in my thank-you-page test. The thing about Internet Explorer is that there is no thank-you page to analyse. There is, however, a get-our-latest-web-browser page from Microsoft. Let’s look at it instead.

1. What is about to happen

Microsoft do not offer any kind of an overview of what is about to happen when you click, or have clicked, on their signature flat-designed button “Get Internet Explorer 10”. The largest font-size on the page belongs to the heading “Fast and fluid for Windows 7”, which makes a point and destroys it. The word “fluid” does not necessarily have a good connotation, to my mind. In combination with “fast”, it has the “unpredictable” and “confused” ring to it.

2. What is required of user

One thing Microsoft do include, nevertheless. The users are informed that by clicking “Download now” (let me tell you, I’ve searched the page to and fro for another instance of the phrase or a thing to click, without any success), they agree to “the Internet Explorer Software license terms | Privacy statement | System requirements”. The three documents are interesting and if you haven’t read them, I encourage you to do so, if only to get acquainted with what you are getting yourself into, when you decide to get Internet Explorer 10 on your machine.

Except for a computer meeting system requirements, the users are not required to do anything. Microsoft must rely wholeheartedly on the ease of installation of their product.

Internet Explorer’s download page in Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7
Internet Explorer’s download page in Internet Explorer 9 on Windows 7

3. How to get started

Microsoft has a page-wide introduction to Internet Explorer 10 with a hard-to-interpret heading “See what’s next for Internet Explorer”. The link “See it now” leads to Internet Explorer 10 presentation page, where you are led to understand that Microsoft’s browser and latest operating system are forever interwoven.

Back to the download page. Microsoft provide users with superb marketing shmoodle and shambalamba. The new Internet Explorer is “Fast”, “Easy”, and “Safer”. There are links to a page where you can download a different language or version of Internet Explorer 9, to a page where you can explore what’s new and exciting about Internet Explorer 9 and to a page where you can get support for… you guessed it, Internet Explorer 9.

4. Spreading the love

Microsoft provide a way for users to share the download page with their friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter. Moreover, they include the Facebook Like button for page visitors to click on, thus joining the rest of 2.5 million of planet’s inhabitants showing appreciation of the company.

Other observations

There is an option for users to choose to set Bing as a default search engine before they download the browser. This is how I interpret “I would also like Bing and MSN defaults” anyway. What an MSN default is, I have no clue.

Conclusion

My suggestion to Microsoft is to get the purpose of the page straight and get rid of all the noise and bloat. I am left confused, when I think about who the target audience is. I would be surprised if Microsoft knew the answer themselves.

Next up: Safari. Don’t miss it, follow me on Twitter for updates.

Analysing thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] pages: Mozilla Firefox

This post is a part of the enterprise I have set out on—an analysis of how different web browser developers use words and images after you have decided to give their product a try by downloading it.

Mozilla Firefox logo
Mozilla Firefox logo

Web browser: Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox is the second web browser whose thank-you page I tested. It is simple and reminds of Google Chrome’s thank-you page with a big headline and three images. The gratitude is expressed by “Thank you for downloading Firefox!”, which is part of a line of text just below the headline that says, “Different by design” attracting more attention than the thank-you phrase itself.

1. What is about to happen

Just as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox utilises visual means to simplify the description of the process of downloading and installing their product. The three steps are not labelled, but rather there are several-line-long descriptions under the images of what happens when a user has clicked the download button.

Mozilla Firefox’s thank-you page in Safari on OS X
Mozilla Firefox’s thank-you page in Safari on OS X

In the case of Firefox, just like with Chrome, the three images illustrating the three steps match the operating system that you use at the moment. However, the first image sports a downloads window… of Mozilla Firefox. I do not know how often you browse your way to Firefox’s thank-you page using Firefox. The browser version that is being downloaded in the illustration is 12 versions older than the present one. Which shows when the thank-you page was updated last.

2. What is required of user

Mozilla Firefox recognise that the process of installing a program on Windows is more complicated than that on OS X, for example. They ask the user to clicking Run in the Internet Explorer dialog bar. In the next step, they ask you to launch the Mozilla Firefox setup wizard and follow the instructions (with a disclaimer that the process is made as painless as possible).

Mozilla Firefox’s thank-you page in Internet Explorer on Windows 7
Mozilla Firefox’s thank-you page in Internet Explorer on Windows 7

On OS X, Mozilla do not just encourage users to drag the icon of the newly installed web browser into Dock or, like Chrome, right-click it and select ‘Keep in Dock’. They make it part of installation procedure instead.

Firefox make it easy for the user to force download, should it not begin automatically. However, the link is less prominent than on Chrome’s thank-you page (the link text is “click here”) and is a constituent of the first step.

3. How to get started

Firefox do not provide a loud reference to a tutorial on how users are to get started with the new browser. There is, nevertheless, a helpful list of links (Tour among them) which lead users to resources that are meant to enhance their browsing experience with Firefox. The list includes links to Support pages as well as Mozilla’s rather new mobile browser.

4. Spreading the love

On their thank-you page, Mozilla Firefox do not in any way let their new users share what they’ve just accomplished.

Other observations

Mozilla appear to focus on the interaction between the browser and the user on a much deeper level than Chrome, at least according to their thank-you page. By careful choice of words and images, they show that users’ experience with their browser starts of by comparison. It is one of several browsers on their machine, and if they give it a try, they will find it superior to the others. Far-fetched as this interpretation might be, here’s what I find supporting this idea: the Dock in OS X sporting shiny new Firefox icon has also Safari on it.

Mozilla come across as more agressive concerning competition on the browser battlefield than Chrome. They focus on contrast: “Different by design”, “You’re going to love the difference”, “[Download] could take a few minutes, but it’s worth the wait”, “[C]lick on Firefox whenever you want to use the web!”

The differences between how Firefox’s thank-you page is shown on different operating systems are only slight. Besides, they do not interfere with Mozilla’s goal of appearing as “different” (read “superior”).

Conclusion

My suggestion to Mozilla is to continue making a stand for the browser superiority and adding a way to share users’ download activity with their friends.

Next up: Internet Explorer. Don’t miss it, follow me on Twitter for updates.

Analysing thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] pages: Google Chrome

This post is a part of the enterprise I have set out on—an analysis of how different web browser developers use words and images after you have decided to give their product a try by downloading it.

Google Chrome logo
Google Chrome logo

Web browser: Google Chrome

Google Chrome is the first browser I downloaded for the test. Its thank-you page is clean and simple, echoing the overall feel of the website. The gratitude is expressed by “Thank you for installing Chrome”, which is the line of text set in largest font size, bound to attract attention.

1. What is about to happen

Google Chrome’s thank-you page shows three steps of how the process of getting the new web browser on your machine goes down. Quite as expected, the first step is “Download”. The second step is “Install”, and the last one is “Run”. The three steps are illustrated by relevant images of how an operating system handles the download and installation.

Google Chrome’s thank-you page in Safari on OS X
Google Chrome’s thank-you page in Safari on OS X

The screencapture images illustrating the three steps match the operating system that you use at the moment. For example, if you download Google Chrome on Windows (regardless of which browser you use to gain access to the download page), the images show Internet Explorer’s installation dialog window.

2. What is required of user

On Windows 7, the user is not required to do anything beyond what Chrome installer cannot do by itself. The text says, “Once installed, Chrome should start automatically.”

Google Chrome’s thank-you page in Internet Explorer on Windows 7
Google Chrome’s thank-you page in Internet Explorer on Windows 7

On OS X, however, there is instead a line of text that says, “After installing, you can right-click the Chrome icon and select ‘Keep in Dock’ to access Chrome easily.” Though not a requirement, this encouragement is also shown visually in the last image, where Google Chrome icon already sits in Dock between System Preferences icon and Contacts icon.

Chrome make it easy for the user to force download, should it not begin automatically, by including a link to the file just above the three workflow images: “click here to retry”.

3. How to get started

Users seem to be expected to know how to operate a web browser. There are not many clues as to what a browser is and what one should do to get started browsing the web. However, there is a link to Google Chrome’s Help centre: “Have questions? You can find more information in the Chrome Help center.”

4. Spreading the love

On their thank-you page, Google Chrome do not show that they rely on the word of mouth markteing of their product. The only way for you to share the just-downloaded browser is a small +1 button just below what may be considered as a mega footer. That is the button and a humble number of 2.2 million users who already showed their appreciation for the browser.

Other observations

Google Chrome make their mobile browser and integral part of the thank-you page. The section of the page where there are links to Google Chrome for Android devices and iOS devices is just as noticeable as the three step illustrations, though it is located below them. They prompt users to “bring [their] Chrome experience to [their] phone or tablet”.

The differences between how Chrome’s thank-you page is shown on different operating systems are only slight and well-grounded.

Conclusion

My suggestion is to not take users’s web browser experience for granted and provide a better way of showing how to get started with Chrome, in order to get the most of it.

Next up: Mozilla Firefox. Don’t miss it, follow me on Twitter for updates.

Analysing thank-you-for-downloading-[browser] pages: background and criteria

How do browsers thank you for downloading their products? What do they show you right after you pushed that blue/green button? I’ve set out to investigate how world’s five most popular web browsers use text and images after you decided to try them out on your machine.

I have done my fair share of downloading browsers. There are things that I expect the thank-you pages to contain, which is maybe all the more the reason for my establishing a framework for the analysis. So, here are the criteria that I am going to mainly take notice of, when researching Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

1. What is about to happen

Downloading a browser is most probably not something you do very often unless your work entitles you to it, for example. People who do not do it on a regular basis might be unfamiliar with what downloading, and subsequently installing, a browser involves. So, I expect a thank-you page to provide a kind of a step-by-step instruction reciting what is about to happen, in a chronological order.

2. What is required of user

Most people are unfamiliar with the procedure, which means they do not often know what they are expected to do. What actions they are required to accomplish during the download should be a part of the chronological workflow explained above.

3. How to get started

It is likely that people downloading a browser are taking their first steps with it. How to get started with using it is therefore one of the necessary bits of information a thank-you page should include.

4. Spreading the love

There has been a battle (some call it war) among web browsers for usage share. Though not a mandatory ingredient, asking people who download your browser to spread the word, and thereby taking a chance at boosting own popularity, is a highly probable action on the browser developer to take.

There are other criteria thank-you pages might need to meet, in order to qualify for a complete usability analysis. However, I do not claim the analysis to be so thorough or full-toned that it would be exhaustive. Rather, I hope that looking at the five browsers in the light of the aforementioned criteria will lay foundation to build upon, would such inclination or need arise.

Here are the five browser pages that will be tested:

  • Google Chrome (for Mac* and Windows**)
  • Mozilla Firefox (for Mac* and Windows**)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Safari (for Mac*** and Windows***)
  • Opera (for Mac* and Windows**)

______

* — downloaded using Safari

** — downloaded using Internet Explorer

*** — Safari does not have a special download or thank-you page. Both Safari for Mac and Safari for Windows can be downloaded from Apple’s support pages.