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WTF, Digsby? I'm just trying to install you and nothing else...
Monday, February 23, 2009

I started using Digsby a few months ago, because I have online contacts that use different IM technologies--Digsby brings them all under one account. However, installing the actual IM software is a pain now. Not because it's hard to run the installer, but because you need to pay attention to all the crap it tries to install without you looking. In total, there are 8 screens in the installer and each one requires you to read something and then click something. Check all the Accept/Decline screens you have to go through:

In this screen you have 11 choices.

In this screen you have 9 choices.

In this screen you have 13 choices (not counting the scroll bar).

In this screen you have 11 choices.

In this screen you have 11 choices.

In this screen you have 12 choices.

In this screen you have 8 choices.

And finally 3 choices.

The number of screens is excessive. What's more, the amount of information in each screen is too much and users have too many choices. For example, throughout the install process I had 78 possible clicks (not counting the scroll bars). Imagine if you read everything available in them; you would need a half day to install one application. Hence, the reason we users have bloated computers: we don't read everything and just click the Accept button at every turn in the hope to just start using whatever software we are installing.

Why are so many useless tools trying to get into my computer? It's the side effect of a business model that generates no cash: you need to accept sponsorship or marketing money to survive. Note that Digsby's makers are not hiding the fact and have a 'Why is this Free?' link in the first screen of the installer. This is their reason:
    Why is this free?

    After clicking "Accept" you will be offered additional useful, quality software provided by our reputable partners. Your support of these software offers allows us to provide you with Free access to our software. All offers we present are 100% optional.
The usefulness of the offered apps is debatable, but I will neither judge nor install them.

Going through this experience today raised an interesting break in my day, as I'm currently designing (thinking right now) an installer for a desktop Java application I developed for a client. The app is being used in the US and Canada, but it's not the easiest to install: there is too much manual labour involved.

I'm currently waiting for the go-ahead from the client to implement the ideal one click installer. We will see how many screens I need, as I have to create background installers for the latest Java run time environment, MySQL, and the actual binaries for the application. I hope I can stop at 3; however, we don't need to install other bloatware to justify the cost of the app.

What does the ideal installer look like? I'm glad you asked:

5:02 PM | 0 comment(s) |


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