Here's a useful way to assess the quality of your software:
rate software submitted to their archive according to a clear and
well-conceived scoring system. The questionnaire below is based
on the Tucows scorecard and uses the same scoring allocation to
rate your own software, helping you identify areas for improvement
and taking some of the guesswork out of what rating your software
will receive on Tucows.
Take a critical eye to your software or get someone else to assess
it for you. Reviewers don't have your inside knowledge of the software,
and they're rarely as forgiving of flaws and quirks as you might be!
The rating system has been updated to the Tucows guidelines of 10 October 2005.
Is there an installer? Does it guide the user clearly through the installation? Does it automatically configure the software appropriately? Does it create shortcuts to the program, help and uninstaller? Does it offer to place them where the user chooses?
Tucows scoring: Start Menu program group is created with a program shortuct (1 point), plus a help shortcut (2 points), plus multimedia enhancement (3 points).
Is the interface easy to understand and use? Are features
easy to find and access? Are windows resizable? Menus clearly layed
out? Icons appropriate and clear? Customizable?
How significantly different is your product from the competition?
Extra functionality? Better integration?
Learning curve and accessibility
How easy is it for a new user to use your software? Is it clear what the software does? Is it straightforward to achieve any of the main tasks the software is designed for? Is it readily accessible (e.g. with desktop or QuickLaunch shortcuts)?
How useful are the features? Do they work well? Are they fast? Do they use minimal resources?
Overall how does your software compare with the competition?
Is there an uninstaller? Does it remove all program files? Does it delete program configuration settings from the Registry? Does it delete user configuration settings from the Registry? Does it offer to leave configuration settings alone (e.g. for an upgrade)?
Tucows scoring: Uninstallation is deemed 'incomplete' if it leaves any program files behind.
Is the software 'self-healing' or does it provide a 'repair' option with the installer/uninstaller?
Help, Documentation and Support
Basic help and documentation
Do you include a help file? Is it included with the application, or is it only available online? Is it linked into the application with context-sensitive links?
Tucows scoring: Help is not linked into the program (1 point); there are links to basic help throughout the application (2 points).
Are there context-relevant tutorials available from within the program? Do you offer multimedia (e.g. Flash) tutorials?
Does the documentation (user guide, help system, tips, hints, tutorials) cover everything the user needs to know about the software? Does it tell the user how to achieve tasks? Is it illustrated and clearly presented? Are references to the program (e.g. menu text, location of buttons) accurate? Is it technically accurate (links, grammar, spelling, etc)? Are their tool tips or status line messages?
Tips on startup
Does the program offer tips to the user, for instance as a 'Tip
of the Day' feature? Are the tips really helpful to the user?
Can the user easily find how to get support?
Tucows scoring: Contact details are accessible
from the program (1 point): e-mail address (1 point), web enquiry form (1 point), telephone/fax support (1 point), active forum (1 point), online chat at least 4 hours per working day (1 point).
How does the download and install size compare with similar products?
Does the web site contain adequate information about the program? Does it carry contact details and/or a contact form? Is the navigation clear? Is the design clear and appealing? Is it literate? No broken links?
Tucows scoring: Web site contains brief program information and contact details (1 point); plus online help/documentation (2 points); plus good design, navigation and quality content (3 points).
Does the program provide keyboard shorcuts for all commonly-used functions? Does it implement 'accelerator' keys for menus and dialogs?
If appropriate, is the user guided through configuring the software? (Essential if the software requires user configuration before it is usable.)
Microsoft XP logo certification
Is the software Microsoft certified?
Compared with the competition, is your program good
value, given its features, usability and price.
Don't forget to consider free alternatives
which can seriously undermine the value of your software.
Would you recommend this program to a friend? Do your users
recommend it to others?