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Tips on laying out a user friendly CD-ROM disc

As a software or multimedia developer your aim is to educate and/or entertain your user. Therefor giving them a CD which takes them straight to the contact they desire will undoubtedly enhance their user experience. Generally speaking it’s not beneficial if you pop a CD or DVD into your computer and have to guess what to do next. Here are a few ideas to consider before sending a master disc in for duplication.

layoutFirstly… Does it have autorun? It makes sense to do so, as the vast majority of Windows users expect their discs to do so. You can achieve this by popping a simple text file called autorun.inf, into the root directory of your disc.

Don’t overlook assigning an electronic volume label on the disc. Set the volume label using your burning software; alternatively try using the ‘label’ command inside the autorun.inf file. This way users navigating their PCs using Explorer can see that the CD in the drive is more descriptive then the default text ‘New’ or ‘1320982_04’.

Ask yourself…Is the root directory free of clutter?Generally speaking people do not want to be confronted with choice, especially when they unsure. Simplify the process, make the choice for them and only leave the most important file in the root directory ( along with the autorun file) To make it obvious name the file ‘start’ or ‘run’ and move all other files into  sub-folders. Remember these sub-folders and files should have real names. By giving these folders and files everyday readable names it allows users to navigate and locate documents/images outside of your software.

Remember that when creating a master disc to be sure that any unnecessary files, images or templates have been removed. As well as enabling a clean file structure, it prevents the possibility of sharing your source codes or any uncompleted or unused ideas.

Finally … Is your CD going to be used on both PC and Mac? If so then make sure your disc is a true hybrid CD in order to run on both platforms. This way you can hide the PC files from the Mac and vice-versa. This makes for a clean disc.

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Address: Replication Centre, Gleniffer House, 2 Hall Road, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1NN.    Tel: 01702 530 357    Email: info@replicationcentre.co.uk