Helping the User Help You.
The husband related a tale from his office. Software engineers and quality testers were watching a teleconferenced demo of their product. The application crashed, and presented the user with the option to send crash debug information to the software vendor. The user's mouse hovered over the "Cancel" button as the engineers shouted "Send! Send!". (The bug report was sent and picked up by the engineers.) Why wouldn't a user send the troubleshooting information to the software vendor?
At the moment, the user is simply irritated that the application crashed, and they must restart their work. There's no immediate advantage to the user, and even having to click a button sounds like extra work.
Gathering that sort of debug data would probably be more effective if the user was offered some sort of incentive. Example:
- Use personal messaging that conveys the value of sending the information. "Please tell us about this issue. Your contribution is truly appreciated, and will help us to resolve this issue for other users."
- Offer a freebie. "Each crash report is entered into a monthly drawing for an 'I report bugs' t-shirt."
The husband also has some ideas to improve the crash data collection process. He points out that the process should nearly be transparent when the data is sent. There should be a preference setting to control this, which would be presented to the user when the application is first launched, and is also accessible in the application settings at any time.