There are two of these patterns in particular that we’re concerned about. We’re calling them manipulators and please don’t go pop ups.
A manipulated usually appears in a model overlay. For example, a pop up asking the user to sign up for the site’s newsletter, the acceptance link. Show me the deals, for example, is generally bigger, brighter and more noticeable than the rejection link, which is the manipulation is some variety of undesirable statement about the user’s personality or priorities, for example. No, thanks. I don’t like deals.
This manipulative link is meant to bully users into selecting the option that benefits the company. The pattern is problematic because designers are intentionally trying to connect users rejection of their offer to a negative self-image. So imagine if people did this face to face. Here’s what it might look like.
Hi. Did you find everything you were looking for today? I did. Thank you. Will this be it for you? That’s it for today, OK. Did you want to sign up for a newsletter so you can stay up to date on our sales or do you hate saving money?
Well, I like to save money, but I just don’t need your newsletter. Thank you.
Manipur links are just blatant attempts to bully users into doing what the company wants them to do, regardless if it’s what the user wants. Another related pattern is the please don’t go pop up.
These are often also called exit intent pop ups. When a user moves their cursor towards the top of a browser on a desktop site, a pop up is triggered. They often have messages like Before you go or don’t miss.
The idea behind this pattern is that if the user moves their mouse to the top of the page, it means that they’re going to leave the site or close the tab and go to a competitor site. But the problem with that assumption is that ignores the fact that many users often open several tabs at once and move between them.
So please don’t go pop up. Can’t actually tell if a user is really leaving the site or they’re just moving to another tab, but then they’re planning to come back. And sometimes these pop ups get triggered when an engaged user is simply moving up to the navigation or the utility menu.
Again, this is behavior that would not be acceptable in face to face interactions.
OK, here you go. Thank you. Wait, before you go, have you seen our new boots?
We refer to manipulate X and please don’t go pop ups as needy patterns because they’re obvious, desperate attempts to get a user’s attention or to push them towards conversion. Proponents of these patterns say that they work because those people see higher newsletter sign ups or things like longer average time on a page in their analytics data.
But who cares if you’ve got a few extra newsletter sign ups? If you had to bully or goad people into signing up and they didn’t really want to, these approaches might give you some short term gains, increased micro conversions, but that’s happening at the expense of long term losses. Degrading your relationship with your users isn’t worth a few extra clicks.
As we’ve demonstrated here, the real world equivalents of these patterns are awkward and unacceptable. Remember that every interface is the medium of a conversation that you’re having with your users. If it would be rude to say it in person, it’s rude to say it and copy.