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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, 2020 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, 2020 at 8:58
  • No. Why deliberately slow down an interaction ?
    – PhillipW
    Apr 5, 2021 at 9:13

3 Answers 3

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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, 2020 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, 2020 at 14:32
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You don't need a delay here. The reason why "big" sites have them is to combat phishing mostly. Some put it on every external link (especially in cases where UGC can be arbitrary link text, ie youtube.com), but most have it active only when the referrer is not their own site. In this case, they're invisible in normal interaction, but in case someone directly links you to https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=example.com, it warns you that the link isn't actually their website.

In your case, you know what the target is, it's some version of Amazon. No warning is needed here.

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  • For my use case, the delay is required as I have to display an 'affiliate revenue' message per the TOS for Amazon Affiliate advertising. Interesting that some sites have a delay and others don't. Jan 26, 2023 at 18:08
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I would keep a delay, just reduce it. As the user would have clicked on the link, they either (A) want to go to the page, or (B), clicked it by accident (In which they would probably go and click the back button right away).

Alerting the user of the page they are being redirected to, and placing your legal obligations on the page is pretty much all that needs to be there (Besides the manual redirect and possibly a cancel button), and most users don't need 10 seconds to read that (Actually, most probably would not read the legal stuff, no matter how much time you give).

Personally, I would recommend a delay of 3-4 seconds, as it provides enough time for the user to realize what is happening, but is fast enough where it does waste their time, or appear broken.

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