Mariner Software, I’m calling you out

Mariner Software is the publisher of some of my favorite Mac applications, including StoryMill. However, they do not actually want anyone to download their software. This is evidenced by the fantastically user-unfriendly process you have to go through to download their products.

Say I want to download StoryMill 4.0, released today. I visit the main StoryMill page, click the prominent Download link on the left side of the page and…am taken to a page listing all of their software. Okay, well that’s not terribly friendly, but whatever. I scroll down the page until I locate StoryMill, and click the download link, fully expecting to see the Safari download window pop up.

Instead I get a form, requiring that I enter my first name, last name, email address, and operating system. Naturally, I fill it out with fake information because—much as I love Mariner Software, have contracted for them in the past, and know several of the employees personally—they don’t need to know that information.

I arrive at a page that reads thusly (emphasis theirs):

Note: In an effort to reduce SPAM on our site, we ask you to verify your email address. An email has been sent to the email address you just entered with a link to our downloads page. You will not need to do this for future visits to this page.

If you use a spam filter and don’t receive a confirmation email back from us immediately, try checking to see if the email wasn’t routed to your spam folder.

Thank you for your understanding.

No, Mariner Software, I don’t understand. At all. Reduce spam on your site? How the hell does my downloading your trial software cause spam? I am not registering for an account. I am not attempting to post in a forum. I am trying to download a software trial, and you are making it as hard as humanly possible. You have placed six to nine steps in between me and your software:

  1. Click the download link (the only step required by most software developers)
  2. Find the product on a large page
  3. Click the right download link once I have found the product (there are numerous downloads listed for most products)
  4. Fill out personal information, with no indication if I am opting into communications that I may be completely uninterested in receiving; submit the form
  5. Check my email (in an entirely different program); find the email from Mariner Software, which may well be marked as spam (accurately, in my opinion; hey, I didn’t really solicit this)
  6. Click the link in the email

And although I haven’t completed this process, I am guessing from the horrifically poor design choices I’ve come across up to this point that clicking that link will probably take me back to the main list of downloads. Whereupon I will need to first remember what the hell I was trying to download, then find it in the page again, and finally click the damn download link a second time.

No. I refuse. This is not user unfriendly, this is actively user hostile. The entire interaction is pointlessly intrusive, and I bet that you’re storing the information about whether I’ve jumped through these ridiculous hoops as a cookie, aren’t you? So when I try to download StoryMill 4.0 on my iMac (or switch browsers on my MacBook), I’ll have to repeat the whole pointless process (at which time it will be pointless for you, as well, since you already have my information).

Unless you are selling the personal information you are gathering through this process on the side, your only business is selling me software, which means that this ridiculous download process is likely actively hurting your bottom line because it is a huge disincentive for users to actually try your software. Imagine I was a less web and software savvy user who didn’t know that I dearly wanted StoryMill 4.0. Would I even remember, once I checked my email who knows how much later, which product I was trying to download? Would I take time to try and figure it out? Or would I go purchase the vastly more well-known Scrivener, whose download link simply downloads the software?

Mariner Software, I sincerely hope you will reconsider your download flow. The current implementation is only hurting yourself.

If you, gentle reader, are not from Mariner Software and wish to send them some feedback along these same lines, you can do so through the Mariner Software contact form.

5 responses to “Mariner Software, I’m calling you out”

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  1. Donald Perreault says:

    I also found this to be a horrible download syste, yet I am a registered user of much of their software and put up with the hoops. Hopefully if enough people complain they will change their policy.

    Mariner is a great company with some of the finest software available. They respond quickly to questions and problems, lets hope they listen to this complaint.

  2. Matt Gibson says:

    This post triggered memories of my annoyance when trying to download MacJournal in the past.

    I note that StoryMill is at least in the Mac App Store, which is a much friendlier buying experience once set up, though (a) it doesn’t seem v4 has made it there yet, and (b) that doesn’t help you try before you buy…

  3. joe says:

    More and more companies are doing this, they dont want to be contacted by users, they dont care if they get the business, they really dont seem to like paying customers.

    Worst of all they let you go thru hurdles then only at the END hit you with register.

    Such a pity, i was a willing customer, not any more.

  4. Fred says:

    Direct download here:

    They provide this link from their help page.

  5. Don Perreault says:

    Whomever, left the download link missed the point.

    I have since gone to Mariner’s website and they not allow direct download. Thanks for listening to your customers Mariner Software.

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