When you’ve downloaded as many NCH Software applications as I have, you’ll notice one thing time and time again: the applications download and install faster than you can recite Mary Had a Little Lamb. It amazes me every time. As product downloads become more common on the Internet, and we are becoming more and more an on-demand culture, it’s moments like these we really appreciate.
Of course, while fast downloads and installations are important, it’s what comes after that really counts. During installation we have stars in our eyes, anticipating what this application we’re downloading can really do. We’re hoping it’s better than other programs we’ve tried; faster, smarter, and more attractive. We’re hoping to witness software evolution and reap the benefits. And we want to do it quickly.
That’s why NCH focuses so heavily on the initial experience. Each application is designed with the goal that a user will be able to be up and running within three minutes.
Only the first impression matters, especially when you’re sitting alone at your computer. If that slideshow creator you just downloaded doesn’t load properly, or you can’t figure out how it works right away, you’re likely to walk away right then and there and go try something else. We know you do that, because we do it too. That’s why we work so hard to win you over quickly.
To help make sure we’re meeting this goal and providing the best user experience, we have several tactics in place. First, every time an application is updated, a design committee provides feedback and makes suggestions to improve the application. User feedback is also considered, and even rewarded. If NCH uses a customer’s suggestion for a product, they will receive the next release of that application for free.
Another approach we use is to provide quick start guides and tutorials for some of our applications. Quick start guides either load in a browser upon installation, or are included in the help documentation. And we’re always working to add more videos to our tutorial series. You can view the tutorials we've completed on our NCH Software YouTube Channel.
We also do user testing so we can watch new users interact with our software. User testing allows us to see how we can improve the user experience firsthand. The data we collect from these tests is compiled into a list of suggestions, given to the application’s developer to be implemented in the application's next release.
In Part Two, I’ll talk more about the user experience and how it affects those first three crucial minutes.