Baidu : Supporting applications
Neat, thorough and user-friendly provision of support for on-site plug-ins.
Baidu, the leading Chinese language internet search provider, has an English-language About section on its website that provides information for potential investors and customers in a variety of formats. For example, reports in PDF; SEC filings in PDF, Word and Excel; webcasts in Windows Media Player; press releases as printable HTML
The webcasts index includes a link to ‘Get help downloading or viewing the above file types’. This activates a ‘Format/ Plug-in Support’ pop-up box which has links to downloads of seven kinds of plug-in: Adobe Acrobat Reader, `Excel Viewer, PowerPoint reader, Word Viewer. Flash Plugin, Windows Media Player and RealOne Player. Each link gives a one-sentence summary of what the plug-in allows users to do (for example, “RealOne Player lets you play streaming audio, video, animations, and multimedia presentations on the web.”) and uses the standard plug-in icon alongside the name. This is also used to identify files across the site requiring use of the plug-in, although the pop-up link is offered only on the webcasts page.
Most sites offer some degree of plug-in support to their users but few if any do it as thoroughly, neatly and user-friendly as Baidu. And as websites get increasingly content rich, adding more and more-sophisticated sound, video and animation to exploit the spread of broadband, a plug-in ‘tool’ such as its support box becomes a more valuable aid for site visitors.
The neatness of Baidu’s tool lies in the combination of comprehensiveness, simple but clear explanations (including the wording of the main link) and stylish use of standard desktop iconography. Why it only offers the tool on one page, rather than on all that use plug-in dependent content, is something of a mystery. Perhaps it thinks the likelihood of users not already having longer-established plug-ins is minimal, but that hardly seems a reason to leave off a simple link to a feature that already exists on the site and could be helpful to many.http://www.baidu.com
First published on 16 January, 2007