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Requesting downloads on SlideShare December 27, 2008

Posted by psychobserver in Usability, User Experience.

A week ago, I received a request from a user on SlideShare to download my presentation on “Hong Kong NowTV Shop“. I am not sure why I did not allow everyone to download the presentation in the first place, but now it allowed me to take a look at this specific process on SlideShare, a very useful type of interaction for social networks.

There are two actors in this interaction: The reader and the author.

The reader, browsing SlideShare (or more probably searching on Google) for content related to his study or presentation, finally finds something on SlideShare inside a presentation. Too bad though, the  author of the presentation decided he would not allow readers to download the presentation.

SlideShare has well addressed this need in their design. In case a presentation can be downloaded, the interface displays a clear “Download” button just on top of their slideshow, and if the presentation is not downloadable then the button is changed into a “Request Download” one.



That’s where unfortunately a nice dedicated feature breaks as the reader upon clicking on this link is thrown back into a generic messaging interface. The reader has his goal in mind already, so it is possible for him to refill the whole messaging form and explain his request. But wouldn’t have it been efficient to propose an already prepared message for him or her to use/customize?

SlideShare Messaging Form

SlideShare Messaging Form

Not only would it be more efficient, it would also add better control when the other actor in this interaction takes over. The  author is informed that somebody sent him a message, but no mention is made regarding the fact that the reader wants to download his presentation, that is unless the reader took the time to write a clear message explaining exactly what is needed.

… And even if they do, the  author is then faced with the task of turning the download option on for the presentation. As the original flow is related to “request download” one could expect that the option to turn this on would be clearly highlighted on the interface next to the message, but nothing like this is offered to the  author who if he is not using SlideShare on a regular basis (like me) is left wandering around the options of the presentation and missing the little checkbox on that page several times before being able to complete the task.

SlideShare Private Message

SlideShare Private Message

To go a bit further, we may also consider that if the  author made his presentation “non-downloadable” he or she may have had reasons for doing so. In that respect it may be useful to offer the possibility to the  author to let another specific user to download the presentation rather than having to allow anyone to download the presentation.

Oh. No! It sounds like my entirely objective blog post became a rant… :oS … Sorry for that. The aim is just to point out that a flow has to be thought from beginning until the end in order to be successful (including all actors in that interaction). A button on an interface is not enough in most cases… And thus now I will look back at the feature we have been building on GoAnimate and see where we may have fell into this trap as well (which with daily turnarounds like in any start-ups is unavoidable)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year



1. Amit Ranjan - December 27, 2008


We hear you…loud and clear… thanks for the detailed feedback…. makes so much sense… please check back the site in a week’s time… some of your sugesstions would have been incorporated in slideshare.

Thanks for using slideshare.

Amit Ranjan
Cofounder, SlideShare

2. psychobserver - December 27, 2008

ha ha… You guys are listening even during the Christmas break! :o)
Very impressive!

Glad the comments could help.

3. ada - December 28, 2008

Great to see new blog posting again!

I must say that I am more interested in the nowTV presentation than Slideshare’s design issues.

Happy New Year!

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