The power of exit points – Let your users leave

Show notes

Applications and services are competing for attention and keeping users involved for hours.

We are seducing our users. But should it be for the sake of mental health, time, or even financial debt.

Topics in this episode ▪️ Social Media ▪️ Endless scrolling on websites ▪️ Website funnels ▪️ Product journeys ▪️ Confirm and cancellation processes

Conclusion of the episode – Offer those damn exit points.

Show transcript

Welcome to today's episode of The Green the Web podcast. It's a podcast about ecologically and socially sustainable design. I'm your host, Sandy Dähnert, a freelance UX/UI designer and researcher based in Cologne, Germany, and the mind behind

And today it's going to be about the power of exit points. Let your users leave. You've probably heard of books like Hooked or Seductive Interaction Design or Online Persuasive Psychology. You might even have read a couple of those books. And applications and services are competing for attention and keeping users involved for hours. That's the goal to get as much engagement time spent on a platform, people in a newsletter, so on and so on. Did you ever think, wow, that have been three well spent hours on Instagram during my day or I'm the happiest when I feel trapped on a website? Probably not. I mean, sometimes, yes, on a Sunday evening, three hours on social media can feel quite snugly, but usually not during a workday or usually not when it happens, not on purpose. And all of those platforms are seducing us. And actually we designers are seducing us and our users. And it all has a place. Of course, we want to motivate users in a learning journey, to keep them engaged, to grab their attention for products that might be beneficial for them. The question is, does it need to be for the sake of mental health time or even financial debt? There is a variety of situations that need exit points, and it's something that we all long for. As in human beings having exit points in a journey to not keep us engaged for hours and hours on one single platform and to come back to it in a very addicted way. So let's start with the obvious. Social media. And to say it beforehand, I don't have anything against social media. I use it myself and I even find really helpful good things on social media. But there is no real exit point on social media. There is always more, and that's designed on purpose. There is endless scrolling as in TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, you name it. There is no sense of completion. It's something we all long for. This completion of having a checklist and checking off the things we've done today. Human beings are so simple and easy to manipulate, and of course we can keep going this way. Just get people more hooked, addicted and seduced. But studies show how harmful excessive social media use is for real social interactions, self-worth, time consumption, even financial aspects, and especially in younger generations that have grown up with social media. And I saw how many people took a social media break in the last month, and me too, every single summer I do that and we still design for addiction. When we get back into the office, we want to keep our users engaged for as long as we can, but we need to figure out how to give our users a sense of completion, a sense of hey, it's all good, you are done. You can go now and have a good rest of your day. So integrate exit stops such as, hey, you're all caught up when scrolling on social media and you might think. Ha ha ha, never ever. But I actually once saw it on Instagram in like the first weeks that I've been on Instagram, I saw this exit point of, hey, you're all caught up, this is the end of your feet. I'm not even sure if that's still existing, but technically it's there or it has been there. It just almost never gets shown. It can be a hey, you're all caught up text. It can also be done with showing the screen time and letting users know when it might be time to stop. There are so many different ideas that you can put in to give users a sense of completion. When it comes to social media, it doesn't have to be a never ending journey because you never feel like, okay, I've seen it all. This is it. I know everything that my network has been doing or I've discovered everything that I wanted to know. There is always more and we need to be very disciplined to stop scrolling. So social media. Give it some exit points. And the same actually goes for endless scrolling on websites and all kinds of other digital applications and products. There is design pattern libraries. When we think about design aspects, it's about blocks that might be endless. It's about a photographer having an image portfolio. It's about image search platforms such as Unsplash. That's endless scrolling. And you still feel like, well, if I just scroll once more, then I see the perfect image. It's in online shops that are huge. It's about second hand clothes or items platforms such as Vinted or eBay, and users always have the feeling of there is more with just one more scroll. One more scroll and you might think, yep, that's what I have when I'm on the user side as well of this. When I just do two more seconds, then I might find the perfect item. Clothing, product, image, pattern, whatever you're searching for. Endless scrolling is a trap and keeps users from feeling accomplished or finished. It's also an accessibility issue actually. So integrate some kind of exit point, such as a load more button so it doesn't. It's not endless scrolling anymore. You have a button that says, hey, click here, load more, keep exploring more. And then a user can actively push this button. And if this person feels like, yeah, I still want to go for a longer term, then more stuff is loaded. And if this person feels like, wow, that's three hours that I just spent on this platform, on this website, thank God this button came up. There is no automatic further scrolling then. Oh, okay, I have the chance to hop off at this moment. So endless scrolling on websites exit points also put it in there. The third area where I see the power of exit points is website funnels. Just last week I did an audit for a landing page with no header or footer navigation. No possibility to click on the logo to get to the main page, no footer to get to the imprint or privacy settings. There was just nothing that I could do, so I was like, well, as a user, I'm trapped immediately. I come from this was for an ad and was supposed to be the landing page for that for a product, and I immediately am trapped as a user. There is a lack of call to actions. There is just one way forward and. That's usually to the more expensive product. I had that actually lately with the tool that I use for work, and wanted to see whether I could change the plans that I'm on, I could only upgrade to the next higher plan, and there were no reasons listed or call to actions for the downgrade to the cheaper plan. So there is just one funnel that goes to more expensive product. And yes, it's true, we need to keep our funnels clean and don't disturb people when they decided for something, but not before that. Users need to decide whether they want to buy a product or not beforehand. Don't push them into a trap. I see that especially in the sales and coaching industries, trapping people. It's so frustrating. It's a super bad vibe to it. So keep your header and footer navigations in. As long as users haven't decided whether to go in or not, and offer explanations why this funnel leads only one way, for example, to the higher priced product, and how to find out more about other ways such as downgrades. So give your website funnels exit points. All right. The next area I see the power of exit points is product journeys. So allow your users to disengage from your product with a sense of completion. As we talked about in social media and the endless scrolling thing. And this can be done in a learning journey where it's a language learning app, or a meditation application, or a fitness program or something similar. I actually did that recently for a postnatal regression fitness program for moms that just have given birth to their babies, and we did go into how can we give it a sense of completion during the program so that the women don't just want to go through all of it at the same time, but actually have some? Hey, you just reached your milestone. Hey, enjoy your evening off and stuff like that. So really implement screens with your daily goal as accomplished, your next milestone is reached. Well done. See you tomorrow or even enjoy your evening off. Maybe even with the checklist that it's all checked. That's what people love. We all love checked checklists. It's rewarding and we need that sense of hey, I've done it. I have done everything that I needed, especially for new moms who always have the feeling of there is more I need to do. So integrate it. Use it in your all kinds of product journeys that you're having, whether that's language learning, meditation, fitness, what topic you can think of and also integrate pause and save features. It could be saving a form in between filling it out. It could be including pausing tasks in an app or software. Make it possible for people to jump off your product. And then last but not least, one of my favorite topics to talk about confirm and cancellation processes. They are damn hurtful. A lot of the times they are hidden, especially deleting accounts, canceling product subscriptions, which is actually illegal in the EU. And it's limiting. And again, it's a trap. Stop shaming your users for unsubscribing from newsletters or canceling a service. Why do people do that? Oh, we're so sorry to see you leave. Don't you just want to stay with us? Things like that. Why you would never talk to someone in real life like that? It's the user's choice. And nobody should ever be shamed for a choice someone made. Especially some people have a hard time canceling something already, and shameful cancellation journeys put a ton of pressure on users. Show some love. Show some empathy to your users. Headspace even cares for their cancellation screens and says thank you for having been part of our community. I myself say I've been honored that the user has been in my email family and that they can connect in other ways, or always welcome to come back in the future. Show love I say it again. It's the users time and energy that they put in your service and your newsletter and your product, whatever you had of a connection with the user. Be grateful from the beginning to the end and not shameful, and ensure people understand the path of canceling a product subscription or deleting accounts so they know exactly what happens when and know the process afterwards. Data is deleted when documents you still have in a tool. How does that work? Access is open until when things like that. Users need to know all of those things and need to have it visible, not hidden. To sum it up, offer those damn exit points. It's true. Think about exit points for people, for yourself, as a user, for mental health. The society is stressed enough. So we started with social media. We went into endless scrolling on websites, talked about website funnels, about product journeys, and about confirm and cancellation processes. Yeah, I know it's a tricky topic to talk about because we always thrive for engaging people and longer attention span towards the products we're offering, but we need to think about the exit points as well for our users, for mental health, and even for ecological reasons. Because three hours spent on social media and watching videos one after the other, it's energy consuming for the device's battery and for the server and for the telecommunication and for the data that's been downloaded and all of those things. So yes, care for it? Okay.

Subscribe to the Green the Web Podcast. Again, it's a podcast about loads of ecologically and socially sustainable design topics. This is season two of the podcast, so dive deeper into the many awesome episodes that are already published. Rate the podcast if you enjoy the show. This would really mean a lot to me and visit me on or via Instagram or LinkedIn at Green the Web. I'm happy to hear about your thoughts on today's episode, to connect with you and to read from you, and then see you in the next episode.

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