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There are many ways to redirect a user to an external site. In my case, I use it for "Universal Book Links". These are links that redirect to a specific country-based store, using the user's IP address to determine their geolocation.

My redirect goes to an internal page, with a delay of 10 seconds before the redirect happens. I do this to alert the user that a redirect will be done, and also to provide an external link in case the automatic redirect is blocked.

I've based my 'delay-before-redirect' actions on what I have seen other 'big' sites do. Some do it for privacy reasons (to alert users that they are going off-site).

The questions are: should the delay and redirect notification happen? Is 10 seconds too long? Does this delay enhance the user experience? Is there any reason not to have the 10 second delay?

I realize this is not a technical question, but more of a design and user interface question. But a user of my services questioned why the delay - why not just redirect immediately?

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  • Scrap the timer element, that's just weird. Just have a "warning" page with options for "proceed" and "return". Then the user can quickly go there if they know what they are doing, or can take as long as hey want to ponder the consequences of leaving your site.
    – musefan
    Jul 9 '20 at 8:39
  • If the external site has a link to your site to process the book ID, the damage is already done. Adding a delay on top of that doesn't make it more secure nor a better user experience.
    – jazZRo
    Jul 9 '20 at 8:58
  • No. Why deliberately slow down an interaction ?
    – PhillipW
    Apr 5 at 9:13
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This is an interesting question!

If i recall correctly, WCAG have some great resources and guidelines on this. The biggest frustration for me with External Linking UX is that the designer often forgets the affordance before the link is actually clicked.

Telling me that I clicked an external link is too late. I want to know that if i click on the link, that will be an external experience. It saves me time, clicks, and confusion.

The usual solution is an external link-icon next to the link, or a general info in close proximity about how links in a specific section will behave.

I see no problem with your solution, but it shouldn't be an excuse to skip informing the user before they even click the link. A clear indication to let the user decide whether to click or not, then the need for 10 seconds could probably be reduced to 5-7. Or just skip the auto logic.

Some clients I have worked with implemented solutions where they skipped the automated timing and instead had a button similar to "I understand and want to proceed" (and a Cancel/Back option of course). Above the button, it was a short info about that "this is an external link and this is not associated with us, Org. XyZ, and our liability ends here, etc. Etc.".

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  • I usually put that box/arrow thing next to any external links. But in this case, the link is a Universal Book Link that others use. It goes to my site to process the code (book ID), where a holding page is displayed for 10 seconds before redirecting to the Amazon site. The UBL process allows the author to create a UBL by only adding the product code to the link. An example is one for my book: bklnk.com/B07VKDB74G Jul 8 '20 at 23:33
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    I just tried out the link and I'm a bit confused. Are you in control of any part of the process? Can you re-design the hold page freely, limited or at what scope? If possible, I would clean it up pretty heavily, since there is a lot going on and the important stuff (timer, direct link, etc.) is barely visible. The footer dominates the first visual impression, and overall, it will be very hard for the average user to read the essential text on the whole page under 10 seconds. The timer seems to be invisible, making me unsure whether it is actually counting down or not. A bit confusing. :)
    – CatMeow
    Jul 9 '20 at 14:32

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