Web Technology @ CCBC

Student driven blog for all things web.

Usability Question – When is it acceptable to force your site users to install/upgrade browser plug-ins?

Posted by killerkulture on February 11, 2008

Question for the group…

Where I work, the website designer is using new flash content that requires our site visitors to upgrade their flash player browser plug-in to the newest version. This new content is not backwards compatible. So the question I have for the group is, at what point do you think it’s acceptable to force your users to upgrade their browsers to the latest application version/technology?
In my opinion, using a tracking/metric program like Omniture should be deciding this based on which flash player version is used by the majority of our site visitors.

Your thoughts?

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2 Responses to “Usability Question – When is it acceptable to force your site users to install/upgrade browser plug-ins?”

  1. mashkenes said

    Ultimately, as you suggest with your reference to Omniture, the decision to require users to add or upgrade a plug-in comes down to knowing your users and the people you want to have visit your site, what kind of environments they are accessing your site from and the implications downloading the plug-in would have on them.

    With a product as ubiquitous as Flash Player, I don’t think it is any great imposition to require site visitors to upgrade. Taking a look at the Adobe site, it appears that unless you’re running on a Windows NT or earlier platform, or Mac OS 9 or older, the latest version of the Flash Player will be compatible with your operating system and browser.

    I don’t know if I would feel the same way about other lesser-used or lesser-known plug-ins that might make some users uncomfortable downloading them.

    Of course, as the link below discusses, even Adobe and Omniture make some people uncomfortable…

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071231-adobe-omniture-in-hot-water-for-snooping-on-cs3-users.html

    Mike A.

  2. C. Dowd said

    Forcing your user to install/upgrade software is what spyware companies do. BUT, if the company you work for is anything like mine, then no one cares about the user, just how many ads they can sell on the page.

    With that said, at some point, as a designer, you have to move on and start designing with the latest software, and the end user will have to upgrade. I’d say that if the user is running version 1.0, and the industry standard is now 3.0, then it’s time for your users to upgrade.

    I would also add that it’s probably a good idea to let your user know how and where to find the latest version. Make it as easy as possible for them to fall in line. As geeky web folk, it is easy for us to forget that most people still have no idea what they are doing on the web. Remember that my parents are online too. 😉

    ~Charlie

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