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I am working on a web-app that has an application to listen to audio. The problem is the playback software requires another piece of software just for the items to be placed on the playback software. Because of scope and money I cannot wrap both installers into one; making it a simpler process.

Would it be more user-efficient to:

A) have a user install 2 applications right after each other in the flow.

B) have the user install the main application, then later on install the other application when they absolutely need to.

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Good question! I think the last option will do just fine. –  Benny Skogberg May 14 '12 at 20:30
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The answer depends on how critical playback is to the user. Is it a standard process that almost all users will use? Or is it a sub-function that a large number of users will never encounter?

Requiring the user to install a separate application in the middle of their workflow is bad, but if only a very small percentage of users will encounter this it may be worthwhile to defer it. But it's so bad that the percentage should be quite low (under 10%? Under 5 perhaps?) before you consider deferring the playback software.

But if the playback software requires a reboot to work, then you absolutely should never interrupt the users workflow to install it regardless of how few users will use it. Just do it at initial install.

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This is the free player that comes with the web-app so it will most likely be the most popular choice as opposed to other supported devices. It is trying to convey to the user how the software works together and one is only used simply for syncing to the player. It is just a confusing process to even explain. This was great insight and I extremely appreciate the feedback, thank you! –  Kyle Mirro May 15 '12 at 15:17
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I would create a checklist that lists each component that your application uses and what it does within your application. Label the second application as optional and give them the option to install it right away or leave it until later if they choose to.

Something like:

Here's everything you need to get started:

 1. Our application - Listen to audio!

    ** Installed! **

Here's some additional goodies that you're eventually going to want to install:

 2. The Second Application - Helps with playing back audio.

    **Install now**           **I'll install this later**
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Interesting, I had actually gone with this approach in the beginning. Through the Usability testing, users thought they had the option to download one or the other through the UI. Its now more or less at which point in the process should this happen. For example in their account settings is where it lives (with incentives to add their player across the site), or possibly on their library of audio page. Great insight, thank you! –  Kyle Mirro May 15 '12 at 15:13
    
@chester No problem. I also have to support the point Myrddin makes as well. If the user is going to have to install that second component to use a majority of your site's features either strongly encourage them to install it up front or make it very clear on their account settings page that not installing it will prevent them from using a large portion of your site's features. In my experience, people tend to hate the idea of missing out on anything so they're more likely to install that second component. –  Jason Towne May 15 '12 at 15:19
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