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I've searched all around Google and SE sites. There are tons of guides/suggestions on what should be considered when designing the homepage, but there is nothing I could find related to downloads page.

We are planning to redesign the community site for CUBRID open source database project. I'm particularly interested in how to design the downloads page? My goal is to provide best UX for users when they come to download our software.

What we have now? (current site)

  1. When user navigates to /downloads page, by default it displays ALL software that is compatible with users OS (Linux/Windows), OS arch (x64/x86). This way users can download everything necessary to get started from a single page with no extra clicks.
  2. If necessary, users can choose a particular category (eg. PHP/Node.js Driver for CUBRID RDBMS) on the left menu and see binaries only for that driver/tool.
  3. If users want to download binaries for a different OS/arch, despite the detected OS/arch, we provide options to choose OS, OS arch, software version, CUBRID version right above the download links. Most of the times users can go with the auto-detected/suggested binaries.
  4. Also, for most binaries we provide two download links:

    a) points to Sourceforge.net (has mirrors for global users)

    b) points to FTP in South Korea (faster download for Asian countries)

  5. If for some software there is no need to download binaries (eg. can be installed from apt-get), instead of a download links we provide a link to a tutorial which guides through the installation process.

  6. At the bottom of each downloads page we provide a link to "Getting Started" tutorial for that particular software.

Now when we plan to redesign the downloads page (all cubrid.org will be redesigned eventually) what else should I consider from UX point?

  • Do two download links (SF.net, FTP) confuse users? Is it better to auto-detect user location and provide only one link?
  • Should we put the "Getting Started" tutorial right there instead of providing a link to it?

I know there are many things to consider, but I would appreciate very much if you could point out some key aspects I should consider when designing the downloads page.

* Follow up questions:

  1. I always like interactive (JSified) UI and I would love create one to dynamically guide a user through the download process. But I have this stupid fear of users having JS turned OFF. What should I do? I would assume that users who download CUBRID and its tools/apis are developers who, I would assume second time, wouldn't likely to turn off JS. What self-respecting developer would turn JS off? Considering this, would you suggest to design the dynamic wizard-like download UX (as suggested by @Hasanga)? Would users appreciate this more? How about those who have JS off?
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2  
You are asking good questions, but the answers are going to be entirely dependent on your site's demographics. Given that it's open source database software, I would make an assumption that they are likely quite technologically literate and likely prefer options up front. –  DA01 Nov 6 '12 at 5:38
    
You don't find that SourceForge handles mirror selection well? I've always found it pretty good, and they do have mirrors in the region. –  Chris Morgan Nov 6 '12 at 7:04
    
@ChrisMorgan, SF.net's mirror selection is great! It's just comparatively slow in Asia, so we provide additional "mirror" in SK. –  Eye Nov 6 '12 at 8:21
    
@DA01, yes, I understand. But the suggestion doesn't need to be specific to DBMS software, but to software in general. I believe there are many commonalities in this category. So, I would be glad to get advice for software in general as well. –  Eye Nov 6 '12 at 8:22
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Here's an arrangement that you might find interesting or useful: en.dev.inkscape.org/download (a website under development; observe that the download page is not complete, as well as being out of date). It contains all the information for all platforms, and then, in client-side JavaScript, shifts the block for the user's operating system up to the top, and in the case of Mac OS X, highlights the appropriate version. –  Chris Morgan Nov 6 '12 at 8:53

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is a a very good question. I think this community can help you best.

In my humble opinion download page is the most important page in your web site. If you look at it from the UX standpoint less is more. So less clutter will result in more interaction, in your case more downloads.

Looking at your current download page it is full of information. Lot of thing to read. And finding right package to download is quite hard.

I can think of two solutions for you.

Solution 1) Make the download a wizard.

Identify separate options that user need to select. In each step of the wizard let the user select a set of related options. (e.g. In the first wizard step user select the type of OS in second user selects category etc.)

The final step of the wizard (ideally third, I won't have wizard more than 3 steps as a personal best practice :) ) can have a primary download button which downloads the most downloaded type. And secondary download links to download the other types such as binary.

I know this solution introduce few more mouse clicks. But clarity of presentation will improve and encourage users.

Getting started guide in my mind needs to be a separate page as users may want to bookmark this page for later reference and share with others.

Two download links is not necessary, as you said it's so much better to identify location and download from most appropriate location.

Solution 2) Install via web platform installer

This is the most efficient method that I have seen in installing software. Microsoft dose this a lot of and take out whole lot of clutter and clicks from the entire UX of downloading and installing.

Basic idea is that you always download a one piece of very small software (> 600Kb) which identify platform and other required settings to download appropriate package from the server. It also triggers the installer when finished downloading. Although the effort to develop something could be higher, it will improve downloading UX in great deal.

Then for downloading binaries you can have a page with above described wizard solution.

Hope this helps.

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thank you for your answer! I'm super glad to hear your suggestions! Regarding 1) How likely it is that users would have their JS turned OFF? Should I care about them? 2) We have developed exactly this solution to install CUBRID PHP driver on Windows. For Ubuntu we have Launchpad packages, for Fedora/CentOS we have YUM packages. But like you said it costs more to develop such solutions. More than that it should be maintained for each platform which would cost us resources. So, I would prefer having a Web interface as a best place to download the software. –  Eye Nov 6 '12 at 8:43
    
Glad that I could be a help. About JS factor you should care about them and degrade gracefully. So that when you have users with JS disabled, you can remove the wizard and have CSS to display information. Which would result in similar layout to what you have now. –  Hasanga Nov 6 '12 at 9:46
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Again, demographics are important, given these users appear to be Linux admins, they probably have little patience for Wizards. –  DA01 Nov 6 '12 at 15:59
    
@DA01, fair enough! I suppose I should ask users if they like Wizard guide or static links. What do you think? –  Eye Nov 7 '12 at 2:22

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