Why Installer Dialog Design Is Still Relevant In 2019


Downloading and installing an app on a smartphone is so smooth, it’s hard to remember when installing software required dialog boxes and user input.

If you’ve spent most or all of your time developing applications for smartphones, you might think dialog design is a thing of the past. However, not everyone installs apps onto a smartphone where installation happens behind the scenes. Some people download apps directly from the publisher onto desktop computers. Those downloads require the use of dialog boxes, and how those dialogs are designed matters.

1. Dialog boxes are supposed to make the installation process smooth
Dialogs are an opportunity to guide users through a smooth installation process. Most software takes mere seconds minutes to install, but a quick install time doesn’t mean a user won’t notice a poorly designed installation process. Regardless of how fast a program installs, the user needs to interact with dialogs to accept the license terms and move through the installation process. That process needs to be user-friendly.

Confusing or poorly designed dialogs make users frustrated, and if the software was free, they might move on to a competitor. Users remember unpleasant and frustrating experiences and will share them with friends. Effective dialog design creates a seamless installation that users won’t remember, and that’s a good thing.

2. License agreement lawsuits could get sticky
Dialog design is especially important where license agreements are concerned. Say you find out a user has violated the terms of your license agreement. You file a lawsuit and begin to pursue them in court, when you’re presented with proof that they never agreed to the terms. To your dismay, your installer allows users to complete installation without having to acknowledge they’ve read and agree to the license agreement.

Somehow, you designed a dialog box that lets the user move on with installation without being required to click the button that says “I agree to the license.” It was a simple design mistake, but there’s uncertainty regarding how your case will turn out. You know a judge or jury might still rule in your favor, but taking it that far will cost time and money you don’t have to spare.

Part of dialog design is making sure certain actions rely on previous actions. The easiest way to ensure your license agreements don’t get skipped is to build installation packages with InstallAware and take full advantage of its powerful dialog editor. Aside from pre-designed themes, you get full control over how those dialogs behave, and script variables are completely automatic. For example, you don’t need to do any manual coding to disable the “Next” button while the license agreement checkbox is unchecked. Other benefits to using InstallAware include faster install times, better compression, and one-click MSIX Builds.

3. It’s what real programmers do
Let’s face it: anyone can go online and create a basic application with drag-and-drop Visual Basic editors and call themselves a developer. Those applications will come with a pre-made installer that can’t be altered.

Real programmers take the time to craft an installation process with the same attention to detail as the program itself. If you want to get out of the sandbox, it’s time to start designing dialogs. There’s a lot to learn, especially when programming dialog boxes for Windows, but the end result is a better user experience.

4. Efficient dialog design makes you look good
The software development world is in a crisis and has been for a while. Developers are under intense pressure to release software before it’s ready. They’re taking shortcuts to complete projects, which builds technical debt into the application.

With immense pressure to ship software before it’s been thoroughly tested, there’s little time to focus on dialog design. However, experiencing buggy software after a poor installation experience is only going to make a user look for an alternative to your product.

A flawless software experience won’t make up for a messy installation. Take time creating the installation process and make sure it’s user-friendly. Installation is usually the first real experience users have of your software. If you can’t get the installation right, they’re going to question how well your software works.

User interfaces are everything

Dialog boxes are the most important front-end aspect of your installation process. It’s the only way to communicate with the user to make sure they understand and apply the correct installation options. Similar to websites, user interfaces in the form of dialog boxes form the overall impression of not just your software, but your business. Make your dialogs count!