As an end user, I like software that communicate well; we all love flawless communication. While installing a software package (preferably on a Windows or a Mac), we usually encounter a window with a terribly long and heavily jargoned ‘end-user license agreement’ (EULA). We tend to not bother reading the entire contents at all. A first time computer user might attempt to peek into the contents of the user license agreement out of curiosity or as a challenge, but that attempt doesn’t go far. We end up dragging the setup wizard by abusing the “I agree”, “Next” or “Continue” button and arrive at a point where we can finally use the software. For end users, that’s a regularity, something we all are used to. But, the contents of an EULA convey important messages which aren’t really delivered to the user, due to it’s redundancy and complexity. What’s worse is that plenty of software packages are nowadays equipped with silly mechanisms to force the users read the EULA. I say, why not rather simplify the terms and conditions to a point where the user can understand them?
When was the last time you actually read any user license agreement? The most likely answer is, never. Of-course, i’d like to count in certain users, who might actually be reading the user license agreements entirely, each time. Either understanding word-by-word, all by themselves or through a hired lawyer. If you are one of such, then you are a hero – a real one, with super powers. I envy you for that.
If the software makers really want the users to read and grasp all the terms and conditions mentioned into the license agreements, they must have them simplified. And I really appreciate the fact that *some* vendors have taken notice of this and have already begun simplifying their agreements, but a major chunk of them are still on with the conventional ways. And ofcourse, with newer ways to simply render the license agreements pointless. Ways like swapping the next button with a cancel button, enforcing timers where the users cannot proceed until the timers runs out and all jazz.
This reminds me of a hilarious 3 minute stand up act by one of my favorite comic artists – Eddie Izzard, who describes his funny endurances while installing the apps and software updates on his Mac computer.
What is your opinion? Do you think the conventional ways of presenting the user license agreements a best way of communicating the legal messages? Do you read them?