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Does anyone have any experience with handing off users to another website with a good user experience?

We offer a product, and if the user doesn't qualify for our product, we hand the user off to a 3rd party web site. In usability testing, nobody understood what was going on. I like how LinkedIn currently warns the user that they are leaving LinkedIn.com. I've also seen some sites iframe in subpages.

Has anyone seen any studies concerning how to handle sending someone away from your site?

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Could you please describe your process in more detail (as in the major steps of the workflow)? –  dnbrv Apr 2 '12 at 23:55
    
1.) User comes to homepage 2.) User fills out form 3.) User is denied the primary product 4.) User is "offered" a secondary product, then sent to the product page automatically in 10 seconds –  mrr0ng Apr 3 '12 at 16:03
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2 Answers

  • Before clicking any link, you should state that the link that they are about to click is opening an external site.
  • What I'd do would be opening the page on an iFrame so that your branding remains (not sure about side or top navigation though).
  • I'd also state clearly in a banner as wide as the iFrame and as colorful as possible that the page below is belongs to another site.
  • The banner will have the option of removing the banner by clicking an x in a corner.
  • After clicking the x in the banner, the iframed page will open in another window and the page containing the banner will go back to the source location of the link containing the banner. Warning the user with a javascript alert that your page will be kept running on another window.

You can shuffle the variables mentioned above in order to make your user feel comfortable and making him as aware as possible that he's still on your page, trying not to be annoying.

If you find a usability report stating this answer, please pass on the details. I'm just trying to help with mashups of whatever I remember I've seen in the past. Blackboard and Google use some of the techniques above mentioned.

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As a rule, keeping the 3rd party site branded the same is good, even if they then have their own ( smaller ) branding. It gives customers a sense of security. Alternately, giving users a list of options, so they choose to go to another site. –  Schroedingers Cat Apr 3 '12 at 8:40
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My initial thought was also the way LinkedIn does it with the iframe when redirecting to external websites.

I can't point to any studies but I would also be very interested to see numbers here.

From my experience with handing off users to a 3rd party website in one project:

  • users opted to go to a 3rd party website (iframe was not an option)
  • even though they opted to go there some were still surprised
  • we lowered the surprise effect by displaying a message next to the button that would initiate the hand off

If users don't need to come back to your site you could hand them off into a new tab/window, and at the same time display a message in your site that they've just been handed off.

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I think that's key. Right now we do an automatic redirect after 10 seconds on the page. I wonder if we should make a button where the user has to opt in. It would be a better experience, but it may lose a lot of money. –  mrr0ng Apr 3 '12 at 16:12
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