Adam Kinney wrote a good blog entry last week on the importance for site authors of considering the first-time experience of a visitor. I guess most readers of this blog have Silverlight installed today, but at least in these first months as we focus on getting the plug-in broadly deployed, it’s particularly important that site authors take care to test the experience of a visitor who doesn’t already have Silverlight on their machine. The Silverlight installation process itself is fairly straightforward: we’ve done everything possible to minimize the number of clicks between site visit and first-time control instantiation, but our own work with early adopter sites has shown there are best practices that can greatly improve the user experience.
To that end, here are a few helpful tips:
- Use the inplaceInstallPrompt:true parameter in CreateSilverlight.js to present the Silverlight installer directly from the current home page rather than redirecting the end-user to the Silverlight site for the installer.
- Use the <div> tag into which Silverlight content is presented to create pre-install content (e.g. a static image that provides a glimpse of the final site experience when the user installs Silverlight) and present the Silverlight installer button as an overlay over that image;
- Use the Silverlight.ua.Browser property to provide guidance to the user (for example, warning them that they may not be able to install Silverlight if they are using Netscape 4.0 as their browser).
- Use a timeout delegate to see if the installation is complete, and, if so, refresh the browser automatically so the end-user doesn’t have to manually hit F5 to reload the content.
To make this even easier, we’ve created a small download package that provides further guidance around installation in the form of a whitepaper and sample code. This MSI package doesn’t make any changes to your machine except to extract the documentation and whitepaper to your documents folder. In our experience, it’s well worth the hour or so it takes to implement these changes to your site to get the most out of Silverlight: it makes your site look more professional and reduces user confusion.