Implementing "One-Click Download" at Sun


I wrote previously about the new download system we're developing, so here's an update on another new feature it'll include -- so-called "one-click downloads."

You've probably experienced one-click download, often used for consumer-oriented downloads such as those used on download.com or by Adobe for its ubiquitous Reader. It works something like this: First, you find the product page on the web. It describes the product and invites you to click immediately (a button or link) to download. Once you click, you'll see a message such as, "Your download should start automatically. If not, click this link." and then JavaScript initiates the download.

Our executive leadership has requested this functionality for some time. Why? Because it's strongly believed that the immediacy of the experience will increase "conversion rate" of visitors to downloaders. Furthermore, it's well known (and measurable) that we lose visitors with every additional click and/or page load between the user and the desired task. We want to give people the incentive to download our software, then let them act immediately.

We'll offer this functionality by integrating our new download system with a simple, Sun standard web component that can be embedded on any product page. Perhaps the term "widget" is a bit overused now-a-days, but that's basically what this is -- a new, "pluggable" download widget that can go on any Sun web page. It'll look generally like this:

One-click download widget

Clicking the Download button loads the download page and simultaneously starts the download automatically. If the user selects to use Sun Download Manager (SDM), SDM starts automatically with the file in the queue, ready to download. Future enhancements will add more features and flexibility to expand this capability.

You might wonder why we haven't done this sooner, but the fact is that this model has typically been more applicable to simple "consumer" type products rather than the often-complex enterprise software we deliver. Our complex products typically come along with what we're calling "barriers to download" -- extra steps required before users can start their download. These barriers cause measurable user abandonment at each step, reducing conversion rates and the number of customers getting our products.  But removing them is not so simple -- there are technical hurdles as well as the need to modify some long standing business practices.

Here are the key barriers and suggested remediations:

Barrier Remediation
Registration Required Do not require registration. Build it into the product installer and/or offer incentives and opportunity to sign up after downloading.
Software License Agreement (SLA) acceptance required. If SLA acceptance is built into the product installer, we can remove required acceptance from the download flow.
Multiple files must be downloaded. Use Zip or similar method to bundle the product as a single file.

Our first widget can only handle products that have none of these barriers. Since we're sure this is a good thing for our customers, we hope this capability will be incentive for our product teams to look at how they release their products. (Of course we'll continue to support more complex download scenarios too). We're putting out the word to the product teams and hope they'll take take advantage of one-click download when it's released.

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About

I helped design, build, and manage download systems at Sun for many years. Recently I've focused on web eMarketing systems. Occasionally, I write about other interests, such as holography and jazz guitar. Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/garyzel

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