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We have a Windows desktop application used by engineers with a mix of experience levels. We have several sample files that we ship with the program. We can install them more or less wherever we want.

How should we provide users with a way to find these sample files?

  1. Do we place them in "an obvious location", and hope the users find them? (Where?)
  2. Do we have some hints or mechanism with the program to open sample files (from the File > Open ribbon, perhaps shortcuts to these samples)?

Any other methods?

  • Would it make sense to place them in their "expected" locations? As in, if an engineer came to this part of the app, they would see the sample file there and equate that module with this type of file? Or are they more documentation based? – adriennetacke Aug 4 '16 at 16:58
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If you want people to use your samples files, you need good "signposts" to direct them to the correct location.

In a file system the folder name is often the a good "signpost" especially if it is located at the root folder, rather than buried under convoluted nested folders.

However, also providing a link to the samples from within your application is also a very good "signpost".

So utilising both of your suggestions would result in a good solution for your users.

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Sample files for a new piece of software are usually located by the default action of the 'open' mechanism; The directory you see when you first use the 'Open' command on a new install. This is where you would place your sample files.

If there are other places available that are commonly associated with your software (such as 'Documents' directory for example) it could be worth creating a directory of sample files there instead.

I suggest a little quantitative user research: find out where your users routinely look for files.

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