We have forms on our site that we're using for lead generation. When submitted, the user is directed to the requested piece of content and the file begins downloading right away.

We track user behavior through our marketing automation software, and some people are downloading the file 4-5 times in a row, without realizing they've already gotten the file.

I think this is because, especially in Chrome, the download indicator at the bottom of the browser is quite subtle. Are there common patterns or suggested methods that might announce to the user that the file is currently downloading, or that the file has downloaded? Something that is less subtle?

  • Have you considered just emailing the file to them with the address they entered into the form? Commented May 9, 2013 at 19:47
  • Yeah, I'd considered that, but we're charged for each email sent through the marketing automation software. We have about 2500 monthly credits that we're trying to save for specific campaigns.
    – jp_d
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 21:34

2 Answers 2


Am using different messages in different examples, pick whichever one sounds better in your use case.

On the page where the user is redirected, display a message 'Your file is being downloaded. Check your download folder when the download is completed.' Be explicit to avoid confusions.

You can have a splash/overlay message saying 'Your file download has started...' and the user can dismiss it and continue with his work.

  • These are good options. I think the first one will work for me best, since the software I'm using forces redirection to a page to activate the download.
    – jp_d
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 22:10
  • @jp_d glad to hear that.
    – rk.
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 22:30

I think the biggest issue is that people are not seeing feedback that their request has been initiated. A really easy way to do this is to change the look and text in the link or button that generates the download. For example:

  1. Start with a regular button with a "Download" label.
  2. Once the user clicks it, change the text to something that indicates progress ("Downloading..."), and disable the button to prevent click spamming.
  3. Once the file has been handed off to the browser to download, activate the button again and set the label back to "Download". Now the user can download the file again if they lose it.

Something link this:

Button progress

  • I love this. Very slick. Especially effective if paired with an overlay message like rk suggested. The only trouble I'm going to have with this is that the marketing automation software forces redirection to some interim page for the download, so in this case it won't work for me.
    – jp_d
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 22:08

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