We've all seen it. The use of false statistics and 'second by second' counters that seem to hold zero relevance to the actual business' statistics and are clearly forged (to an approximate value). use of a false counter on a small business website

^ The use of such 'false counters'. (Counts up in specific intervals)

Why do web designers still choose to use this? At first it was a fad, but now it's just transparent, isn't it? Do people really see this and think 'woah, it's live!', whereas it's simply just increasing by say, 1MB every physical second?

This, to me, is a blatant act of trickery and I feel like I'd be less inclined to use/buy from these people. Is it just because I'm tech-savvy that I can see past this?

  • As long as the count goes up to the actual number and then stops (even if approximated) I am fine with it, but if its set to just count up indefinitely then I too feel tricked or lied to.
    – DasBeasto
    Aug 10, 2015 at 14:54
  • But you're not exactly going to spend a day or two testing that are you? That's why I feel the principle is nasty and totally transparent.
    – insidesin
    Aug 10, 2015 at 14:55
  • 1
    The few times I've seen it was on a "view" counter some site, both times I dug into the javascript to see if I could find the loop, and then if I didn't I left the browser open while I did other stuff and then checked to see. Both had slown down in counting a lot but hadn't stopped so I still felt it was shady. I guess if I even had to question it then yes this practice is a bit nasty.
    – DasBeasto
    Aug 10, 2015 at 14:59
  • This is more about black hat marketing than UX.
    – DA01
    Aug 10, 2015 at 16:47
  • It's not black hat if the purpose is to approximate the actual number to explain the benefit. Aug 10, 2015 at 17:12

2 Answers 2


I think it depends entirely on the site in question. I would imagine that in many cases it's being used to illustrate a selling point or feature of the product or service in an easy to understand way.

I'm sure nobody (especially those with technical knowledge) is going to believe the numbers are 100% accurate, but it certainly would describe the service and benefits in an easy way.

If you're selling a service that blocks certain traffic, therefore leading to cost savings with bandwidth, it makes perfect sense to show an approximation of how your tool is working.

  • You wouldn't buy a car based on the company's 'guess' on how many successful road trips have been made... It's not even remotely accurate in this case.
    – insidesin
    Aug 10, 2015 at 14:54
  • @insidesin no, of course not, but as part of the marketing message there was an estimate that said "1,000,000,000 road trips made by our cars" I would understand that the message was one of reliability and popularity and I might be interested to find out why it was so popular.
    – user5482
    Aug 10, 2015 at 15:01

Why do web designers still choose to use this?

Same reason you still get emails from Nigeria explaining to you how some deposed leader has a bazillion dollars they want to deposit in your bank account.

People are gullible.

Or rather, enough people are gullible to make the ploy work.

Does that hold true for 'fake web counters'? Probably not. As you hint at in your question, it may have worked in the past, but I would believe that today it's going to backfire more than help.

However, it's all about the demographics. If your demographic has a lot of suckers in it, maybe this is still a good way to market your product.

In terms of UX, at best, you could call this a dark pattern. But ultimately this is really more about lazy marketing than it is UX.

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