A problematic trend is spreading like an epidemic on the web. In a desperate attempt to nudge users towards conversions like newsletter signups some websites are adding manipulative link text to their popup modals. These user-shaming labels are calledmanipulinks(a clever term coined by Steve Costello): they employ the practice of what is often referred to asconfirmshaming- 让用户感到不符合要约(逻辑上),这种做法可能更好地描述为Downineshaming)。

Sears Newsletter Signup Modal
Sears.com: Thismodal包括Manipulink的经典示例。提示,输入您的电子邮件即可开始,然后是两个“创造性”标记选项:向我展示交易,而且Manipulink,不谢谢,我不喜欢优惠。实际说明用户将收到促销电子邮件的文本是页面上最不明显的。

This pattern typically appears in a莫代尔覆盖(有时,一个please-don’t-go popup) containing some variety of offer — sign up for our newsletter, join our service, register for an account. Below the offer are two options — yes or no — with label text phrased in the first person.




Manipulinks are just another example of needy patterns — desperate attempts to influence user behavior. However, whereas many needy patterns are simply annoying (like the above popup example), manipulinks are more aggressively negative for the user experience. They are user interface elements that are deliberately designed to have an adverse emotional impact. We can distinguish 3 levels of bad emotional design:

  1. Negative emotions caused by错误: the designer didn’t think things through (or didn’t conduct usability testing), and thus created something that people don’t like.
  2. 一个设计最初令人愉快的变得令人不快通过反复曝光。这种长期变成负领土通常是在表面喜悦尝试的命运,例如文本动画。
  3. The design isdeliberately intended to feel unpleasant.


Manipulink粉丝争辩说,使用它们背后的逻辑是在选择拒绝链接之前让用户暂停。使用此策略的设计者试图操纵reflective levelof emotional design by connecting a user’s rejection to a negative self-image.

在我们的一种可用性研究中,用户看到了两个模态 - 一个包含妇女健康的人类的人,以及来自Webmd的另一个传统优惠。

The offer from Women’s Health didn’t resonate with the user because, although she was interested in other types of information from the magazine, she didn’t care about workout plans. She also recognized that Women’s Health was trying to trick her into signing up for its newsletter with this offer. She said, "This is essentially a newsletter signup form disguised as a promotion. I guess I would just click No thanks I don’t need to work out, even though that sounds funny, because Women's Health has more to offer than just workout advice.”


When the same user received a newsletter-subscription popup from WebMD, she preferred the direct and polite approach, saying

“I like that since this is more serious, they aren’t trying to do any type of snarky commentary like, Oh no, I’ll just be sick. I appreciate that they’re being a little more serious. I like that they’re right up front with it, ‘Look here’s a newsletter, subscribe if you want to. Here’s an X button if you don't want to.’ It's very clear what is happening here and they aren't trying to mislead.”

Web MD时事通讯模态
WebMD’s honest, straightforward offer resonated with the user where Women’s Health failed.

This is just one user’s qualitative reactions to two modals, but it illustrates the impact that a condescending and manipulative tone can have. In fact, this practice has inspired so much resentment that someone created atumblr account dedicated to criticizing confirmshaming.你的用户不是愚蠢的,如果你像他们一样对待他们,他们会被冒犯。杜。

Why Manipulinks Don’t Really Work

Proponents citeA/B studies这导致更高的比例微调as proof that their tactics are successful. Sure, manipulinks might result in a slightly higher proportion of users signing up for a newsletter. But focusing on conversions to the exclusion of common sense is a recipe for disaster.It doesn’t matter if more people signing up for your newsletter if you had to bully them into doing it.

Although manipulinks may in fact cause people to pause, consider, and even convert in higher numbers, there’s a hidden tradeoff involved.This approach will negatively impact your user’s experiencein ways that aren’t as easily quantified with A/B testing. The short-term gains seen by increased micro conversions will come at the expense of disrespecting users, which will likely result in long term losses. Are a few more newsletter signups worth lowerNPS scores?或消极的品牌感知?Or a loss of可信度和用户的信任

Delish Manipulink.

还有另一个原因,为什么“巨大”微控制增加可能是误导性的。在许多情况下,含有Manipulinks的模块通常是不诚实关于他们提供的东西. The delish.com modal above is a good example of this — it asks for users’ email addresses to “unlock” recipes, and doesn’t clarify that providing an email address will also register it for the delish newsletter. After users provide their email addresses to unlock recipes, Delish promptly sends them an email welcoming them to the newsletter.

When companies use dirty tactics like this and then see conversion increases, it probably has less to do with “clever” manipulink text than with the fact that they’re straight up lying to their users.And that’s not just a needy pattern, it’s adark pattern.

Don’t Disrespect Users in Pursuit of Micro Conversions


您网站上的每个用户互动都是一个conversation— you’re communicating with your users, and the interface is just the medium. Imagine a waiter at a restaurant saying, “Would you like pepper on your entree, or do you prefer your food to be bland?” Manipulinks are the digital equivalent of that interaction.If it’s rude to say it in person, it’s rude to say it in copy.