What to Include On Your CD-ROM or DVD to Make it Easy to Use And Maintain User Interest

You Must Use Your Space Wisely

You have 650MB or more of space to fill on a CD-ROM, but do not make the mistake of using it up with a 350MB video of you or your director talking about your business, unless that is the key feature that the rest of the program revolves around. You must use the space available wisely.

Just because you have the space on the disc, don't go looking for an item to fill it! This is even more important with a DVD, where you have many gigabytes of vacant space. You must make sure that every single byte of space is used by material that:

  • Informs
  • Educates
  • Interests
  • Provokes
  • Assist
  • Entertains

...and then stop!

Naturally, you will use all the written information that you have available on your topic. A CD-ROM is not an eBook with pictures, however, but an interactive tool.

On the following list, you will find just a few of the elements that you can include to improve your finished product.

  • Live Interviews with Experts, Customers, Developers, and more
  • Links to new information on your Website
  • 3D pictures of subject matter
  • Sidebars with interesting tit-bits
  • A searchable database of relevant information
  • "Show me" examples in graphic and movie formats
  • Tests - people like to know their level of competence
  • Relevant games or puzzles
  • Audio reading the words on each page [With a switch!]
  • Background music - you never see a movie without music!
  • Relevant sound effects, but don't overdo it.



Technical Stuff To Include on your Disc

It's simple to setup, but I still find CD-ROM's that don't load or start automatically when inserted into the computer.

Look for some basic elements that too many developers forget to include:

  • An autorun file so the CD-ROM or DVD will load and start automatically
  • A text file with important information about the Disc
  • Your manual. Many people like to read the details
  • If the manual is in PDF format, include Acrobat™ Reader™ [Get Permission]
  • Include all the bits of software required by your Disc
  • List the names of the software and other products in your Credits
  • Where you've used copyrighted material, provide a reference
  • Give the user the option to run from Disc or hard drive
  • Make sure the user can print relevant information from the Disc
  • Let the user skip your intro, however much you like it!
  • Make it easy to quit, don't make them search for the button
  • If relevant, provide a searchable Glossary of terms used
  • Let a user keep a record of any tests or assignments they complete
  • On quit, provide an option to return to specific place or start afresh



Sales Stuff at the End

When you're selling a digital product, or distributing free copies at an exhibition, it makes sense that you use a small portion of the disc to display and sell your full range of products. You can even include a complete directory of data on them with a DVD that has a huge amount of space.

If you are publishing a small, credit-card sized CD-ROM to issue free to potential clients, you must ensure that the contents are not merely a brochure of your business and its products. Discs of this nature are rarely kept, but if you can include a free eBook or Video on a subject relevant to your product and business (even if very slightly), but entertaining enough for the recipient to enjoy, your disc can become viral.

This means it will be in huge demand, and you can provide links to it on your Website, gathering large quantities of interested visitors for future mailings.

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