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It's 2020 and I wonder: is it fine to have under the Sign-Up form on a website a pre-selected checkbox so the user subscribes to the newsletter to receive updates?

The thing is:

  • Newsletters still work quite well, and it's a good way to interact with users and potential customers
  • Currently, most people that signs up don't subscribe to the newsletter (the only way to do it would be scrolling until the webpage's footer and enter their email again), so I loose a communication channel there.
  • The newsletter sends veryy occasional updates
  • By showing the pre-select checkbox, the user can still uncheck it (no hidden things happening)

Also, what copy would be the best:

  • "Subscribe to the newsletter"
  • "Receive occasional updates on your email"
  • ... other?
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  • As a user I would always say: please don't do this. I will respect your business more if you don't. May 20 at 12:54

3 Answers 3

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There are legal considerations too. See, for example GDPR.

...an opt-out selected by default is a violation...

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You are referring to the difference between 'opt-in' and 'opt-out' design patterns, which is a point of contention when it comes to UX design.

'Opt-in' is good when you are not forcing a user to do something that they normally wouldn't want to do (or you haven't provided them with a clear reason why they should), otherwise it can be seen as a sneaky way to slip something under their nose without them knowing.

'Opt-out' is good when you want to prevent something that might have bad consequences for the user, and that you want them to understand the risks associated and therefore own the decision (and often the liability) for the choice and accept the consequences.

Other than that, it is often a grey line of what can be considered a 'dark pattern', even though design patterns or not 'light' or 'dark' because it is the intent of the designer that makes it so.

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It's considered a dark pattern, but users are familiar with it.

Consider the pros and cons for your case: How much do newsletters affect your bottom line? What are the benefits for the user? How much engagement do they actually get? What is the opportunity cost?

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