Wednesday, September 01, 2004

"There are Updates; Do You Want to Install Them Now?"

Does it annoy you when software "nags" you?

I used to think it annoyed me, but I'm finding that I like it. Would I really remember to install the Windows Updates if it didn't bug me to do it? And that handy little popup that lets me postpone the nagging by an amount that feels comfortable to me—what a great idea.

And though I hate SPAM and will never, ever buy anything that anybody SPAMs me about, there are those mailing lists that I inexplicably sign up for, willingly, like the Hanna Andersson online catalog (they make great kid's clothes). I got an email tonight with the subject Our Best-Ever Playdress is Still Twirling After All These Years and I actually clicked on the link, browsed around on their site for a while, and almost bought a little sleeper for my one-year-old, before I came to my senses and remembered I was going to write something in my blog tonight.

But it got me thinking that nagging software can be useful, even appreciated, in this busy, interrupt-driven world—if done right.

Not all nagging software is done right. In fact, most isn't, though it's getting better. Some of it still irritates me. Shareware, for example, is the cornerstone of nagware. Some apps do a great job; I can remember a shareware app that displayed the usual you haven't paid me yet dialog but grayed out the OK button for some number of seconds, that increased the more often you used the program in a given day. I eventually bought a license, as I always do if I find the software genuinely useful. But others are annoying in their approach, so I delete the software, rather than pay the authors.

Let me know your thoughts about this—the nagging that works for you, the nagging that is irritating, and whether you like the increasingly common check box that says, Don't show this dialog again.

1 comment:

Alan said...

Like you said, if done right, nagging is not bad.

I LOVE the don't show me this again dialogs. I think applications could create tutorials using just these dialogs. They could work much like games do where you jump right in and slowly features are revealed as you come across them.

The OS update mechanism works well for the reasons you stated. I love the calendar alarms in Outlook with the option to sleep for a given amount of time.

I would hate marketing type nagware in a program I have purchased. However, I think shareware has every right to be a little more intrusive.

I think what works best for shareware is what you have implemented in Intercomm. Have the trial period expose every feature and once it ends, turn off advanced features, but don't disable them. Allow the user to select them which results in a "nagware" dialog encouraging them to upgrade. This is the design we selected in FM Radio and SmartManila.