Our site (veetle.com) requires a video player plugin to be downloaded before you can play any video on the site. We've always had an inline install prompt when you enter into the video page:

inline install prompt

Now some co-workers believe that this isn't enough. They now want a standalone download page linked in the primary navigation:

alt text

My concern is that this link in the primary navigation is taking up more real estate than it should:

(A) I believe the average user thinks that most video sites don't require a new plugin to begin playing video. Virtually all other sites like Youtube and Hulu use the Flash video player, which 99.9% people already have installed. Thus, new users to our site won't be sniffing around for the standalone download page when they first discover our site. They'd rather click into a video page, expecting video to play right away, and be presented with our tried and true inline install prompt.

(B) Once our plugin is downloaded, you will never need to download it again (unless we do a mandatory upgrade, which only happens only once a year). So this standalone download page is only useful 1 day out of the entire year! My thought on primary naviagtion is that it should only be used for high traffic pages. Polluting primary navigation with useless pages decreases usability because there will be some novice users who click into the page and ask "huh???? why do I need this page???"

What are your thoughts?

  • Loosely related: How much information should you ask for when users register? Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 1:06
  • "Now some co-workers believe that this isn't enough." Why not? I'm inclined to agree with you, but I'd like to hear the other side. Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 1:12
  • 1
    As a friendly bit of feedback from an end user, I've encountered veetle in the wild. I've installed the plugin, but I was very cautious about doing it and I don't think I did install it the first time. You may want to add a link to the inline prompt that says: "Why do I need to install a plugin?" that brings you to a page that explains why and that it isn't some malware trying to take over their computer. Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 15:13
  • Also, using the plugin as a fallback for HTML5 video for browsers that don't support it would be great as well, rather than having the plugin as the default. However, you may have technical reasons for not doing so, so take that with a grain of salt as I don't have the full background. Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 15:15

5 Answers 5


The solution is easy - test it.

So half your users a page with the download link in primary navigation and half a page without the link.

measure how many first time users successfully downloaded the plugin and watched a video in each version.

Also measure # of visits to the download page (if virtually no one uses the link it's wasted space in the navigation bar) and # of visits to the download page that did not result in downloading the plugin (the user wanted to download something but not the plugin)


There are alternatives to making it a link on the main navigation, which I do agree is not necessary:

  1. When the user load the homepage they are greeted with a message to download the player if they don't already have it; otherwise no message appears. The message can be as simple as the bars that appear at the top of this stachexchange site to notify you of certain events such as new comments to your post. The great thing about this approach is that you can selectively decide what pages need it and which don't, because a page with videos on it will already prompt to download the player as you said.

  2. Add a video to the homepage and this will automatically add the link to download on the homepage if it isn't already installed. This could be as simple as using your own technology for your advertisement.

Hopefully these will give you some ideas.


I tend to look at examples and base my judgement on how they handled things. Looks like Netflix uses the Silverlight plug-in which didn't appear until I wanted to watch a video.

I believe ABC.com also uses some form of the Flash player but requires a additional plug-in.

Both examples only show up when you want to play the video.

I think there is some marketing thinking behind this. I think if you entice the audience enough with your catalog (channels), a user will be willing to download a plugin or player. I know if I showed up to a website and they tell me right away I need the RealPlayer to view a site, I would immediately leave.


A couple thoughts:

A) That's a reasonable assumption but since your site requires the plugin you definitely want it easy to find. Since you clearly auto-detect its presence, the d/l link may be kind of pointless. If they don't have it, you present the page to download it. If you could then auto refresh the browser and not force the user to, that would be better still, from that page.

B) I think you are right here too. As long as either 'no plugin' or 'update needed' are detected then with either of those conditions, the user should be presented with the d/l or upgrade page as an interstitial.

You make a good case for keeping the d/l link out of the core navigation.


I fully agree with your arguments (A&B) and think that this download link isn't necessary.

Additionally I would guess that a separate download link (especially in the main navigation) could be confusing: Your users could guess that they need a standalone program and might build a wrong mental model of your sites service. That might lead to further problems down the road...

If your co-worker persist I would go with Waleeds idea: Notice bars at the top of the page. However, I think you should test, if it is a good idea to display this message at the main page.

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