Instructional Design used for evil… Unsubscribe now!

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I don’t usually use this Learning Hook blog for ‘rants’, but… here’s one worth thinking about I hope – Instructional Design used for evil…

When a user chooses to unsubscribe to a company’s mailing list, more often than not, the unsubscribe link is in some kind of lighter font than the rest, it’s much much smaller and increasingly harder to unsubscribe from. I’ve found sites that require you to enter a password to unsubscribe, which is not for your privacy or any other security reason – it’s because the company does not want you to unsubscribe. Like closing a Skype account, LinkedIn or Facebook – these sites make money from quoting their user figures and how many countries they can populate.

Recently I saw the below wording on a website I was trying to unsubscribe from, which made me think about the Instructional Design behind this – it’s confusing on purpose. Normally we ‘check a box’ when we want something – yet in this instance, you need to ‘uncheck the types of emails you do not want to receive’. It’s a double negative instruction. I had to do a double take to unsubscribe. I really question the value in this Instructional Design ‘used for evil’. Will it make more sales, or create a reputation in users’ minds that the company does not ‘play fair’ and is annoying.

My votes is use ID for good – make the unsubscribe text just as large as the rest and ask for feedback if the user has time so you can improve your service for the better. No need to hide your face too… ok, end of rant.

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