I have a situation where a user is about to do something with consequences important enough that it's imperative they understand them. In this particular case they are about to revoke their right to any kind of technical support for a service in exchange for being allowed access to beta or in-development features of said service.
Because the service terms are being modified as a result of their choice of action, it is of course very important that they understand what's going on or we risk very unhappy customers when we decline them technical support later on.
The issue I'm having is how to be absolutely certain that the user has understood what's going to happen without beating them over the head in an unprofessional manner. I could show them a full screen message in massive 80pt font saying "STOP, LISTEN AND PAY ATTENTION - THIS S**T IS IMPORTANT!" but as much as I'd like to, I've been told I can't do that.
The message we show to users at the moment is quite brief and to the point:
"You are about to enable in-development and beta features for this service. These features are not suitable for production use and as such we do not support them. If you use these features you will lose the right to any technical support while using this service until the features are disabled."
The message is accompanied by a large 'bomb inside a warning triangle' icon.
I've tried a few things so far and this is what I've found in user testing .
- Making the user type in "I understand that if I do X, Y will happen" before allowing them to continue.
What happened here was the users saw that it was a 'I need to enter this text to carry on' and just copied and pasted the text without thinking about it and carried on.
- Changing the message to be an image so it can't be copied and pasted.
The users reported annoyance. Apparently they are so eager to use these features that any barrier we put in their way (for their own good) makes them very impatient. Not only that but it didn't significantly help as many users still didn't acknowledge what was going to happen.
- Quizzing the users
Users were made to answer a multiple-choice question. The options were "There will be no technical support", "There will be increased technical support" and "There will be no change to the amount of technical support". I was very annoyed to discover the number of users who picked #2.
I'm almost at the point of recommending we actually charge extra for access to in-development features and just use the extra money to cover the cost of supporting it. But I'd really rather not do that.
Are there any better ways of making really freaking sure that the user genuinely has read, understood and digested a single sentence that affects something they are paying money for? Or am I just wasting time.
Edit: I was just tapped on the shoulder and reminded of the introduction video at XDADevelopers - Any thoughts at how a slightly less harsh version of this would get through to users?
Edit 2: A bit more information about why technical support is being revoked. The service in question is actually SaaS whose job is to help manage game servers (We don't run the service ourself, game hosting companies licence it from us to provide the service to their end users). The beta features of the service in question generally tie to beta versions of the game server software being used which are notoriously unreliable and unpredictable - but the demand from users to use them anyway has been overwhelming (gamers being the impatient lot that they are). So the companies we work with have said they want a way to let users have access to beta facilities and to revoke their support because there's no way to make the support affordable anyway to avoid losing customers to smaller providers who don't care as much about the support cost or don't deliver the same level of support in the first place. This is something coming more from our customers than a requirement we've decided on ourselves.
Edit 3: After @MichaelZuschlag's suggestion we changed it to a single line of text saying "You need to lose access to technical support in order to enable beta features. [Why do I need to do this?]" and buttons labeled "Remove access to technical support" and "Keep technical support". Keeping the same warning triangle as before.
The users went from one extreme to the other. Almost all of them stopped and looked. More than three quarters of them clicked the 'why' link explaining what was going to happen and the reasons behind it.
Of those who clicked the 'why', the large majority accepted it and continued. Those who didn't largely declined.
We interviewed the users afterwards and they were concerned that the change was permanent, so I added the following line:
"You can restore access to technical support at any time by disabling beta features"
After that very few users clicked 'why' but most of them accepted. They were happy to agree to the terms with the understanding that they could simply 'go back' at any time, rendering the overall decision inconsequential.