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This is something which has always annoyed me a lot and also confused me from a UX standpoint. It stands out to me as an example of a very poor UX decision that I see constantly.

When I'm browsing an online store and get to the checkout, I usually see a 'Promo Code' field. As any normal shopper, I want to save money on my purchase so I Google for a promo code. All of the resulting sites are built with very similar UX - there's a long list of codes which may or may not work and the user must click on a coupon to reveal the code.

What doesn't make sense to me though is why these websites always automatically open the merchant's homepage in a new tab once the code has been clicked.

Surely 99% of people looking for a special offer are doing so because they are already at the checkout. Or am I mistaken, in that most users decide to shop just because there is a promo code available?

Is there another reason I'm missing which would explain why these sites all exhibit this annoying behavior?

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The coupon or promo websites serve the user a coupon code for a specific site or category/page/item on the site. While revealing the code, they open the merchant's website in a new tab with their affiliate code (or pixel) tagged in the url of the site. This is how the merchant's website knows that a customer arrived from a particular coupon site and pay an affiliate fee to them when a purchase is made. This is the main channel for coupon sites to make money without ads. Now, this may not be a good experience for the customer unless very relevant page is opened.

  • You can even see the described code in the URL of the new page, it's usually a piece at the end. – Big_Chair Sep 13 '18 at 8:47
  • Very interesting answer - I never knew this. Thanks! – Daniel Sep 14 '18 at 8:01

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