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Normally it's a bad idea to allow users to click, or even see, buttons for things he cannot do, but would it be ok as a conversion strategy? Imagine this simple scenario in a marketplace app:

The user cannot publish products before his (billing) account is fully verified. But as a gradual engagement approach, he is allowed to register his products. There's always a "publish" button available to him.

When he finally hits "publish", if his account is not verified, the system takes him to the verification steps, also displaying the reason why he has been redirected. So by the time he finds out the process is longer than he thought, he has already spent time with and seen value in the app.

Is that a valid approach? Wouldn't it be worse if the publish button was replaced by warning text, possibly scaring him away before he plays around with it? And if redirecting is too invasive, perhaps displaying a tooltip or even a modal on click would work better?

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I have seen the process you are describing in action and it never makes me comfortable - Essentially, you are hijacking a click and redirecting the user through a number of steps that they were not expecting.

I would suggest that you re-label the button (or use the space where the button would be) to display something like "Verify your account to publish". This way the user knows what to expect when they hit the button and why they have to do it.

Ideally you should also be signalling their status as unverified somewhere else too - if you have an alerts mechanism you could stimulate them to verify there, you could send them emails... This doesn't replace the necessity of the directive on the button but lessens the chance that they will actually see it.

  • I tend to agree with you. But for layout reasons I can't re-label the button with a longer text. What's your opinion about presenting a modal, so that he is properly warned and has the choice to cancel the redirect? Or perhaps presenting the button in a disabled state and showing a tooltip on hover as to why it's disabled? The tooltip would not be clickable but would tell him what to do (there's a "verify account" link always present in the sidebar). – rzb Sep 29 '16 at 16:16
  • Any action you make the user perform that isn't labeled up front will disorient and upset them - this includes a modal. It seems like your best bet is to disable button but bombard them with messages about validation at every opportunity: a red bar across the top of every page, a pop-up when they log in, a pop-up when they reach any pages they might want to publish from... Anywhere you can think of. If this is a crucial step then you need to let them know how crucial it is. – Andrew Martin Sep 29 '16 at 17:23

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