It's time to change how we sign up


When was the last time you interacted with a sign up process where it was easy to understand the terms?

The answer for pretty much everyone is, “Never”.

That’s because sign up processes are designed to reduce friction (cognitive load) and get you into the product or service quickly. There is actually an argument to support optimising for Time to Value. But, as we’ve called out before, our metrics drive what we designed. What we design impact behaviour. How people behave has consequences.

Design is never neutral, regardless of what the folks pushing for technological instrumentalist might say.

We’ve developed a pretty distinct, evidence-backed, empirically driven design approach to terms and conditions, privacy notices and other common disclosures. This work has profound potential. Not because it changes UX, visual or interaction design patterns, but because it can change the very nature of power relationships. Changing the fundamental assumptions on which our modern society is built has the potential to change society itself. 

We’ll be covering all of this and more over the coming weeks. some of it in direct response to the recently released Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma.

For now, let’s talk about the problem that can be directly tackled by all teams within all roganisation today.

The Agreement Bypass Bias

The behavioural phenomena individuals consistently exhibit when interacting with standard legal disclosures and contracts. The result is that a pre-ticked box stays ticked, a tick box is quickly ticked or a button is clicked to "accept", all without the individual actively engaging with the content of the disclosure.

Not an official definition. Just some basic framing to help you 'get it' for now 😊
The problem with this ‘learned behaviour’ is that it’s designed. Regardless of the pretty images and high quality design outputs leading organisations produce, they do not want to diving into, querying or challenging their terms. These are one way tickets. This is a zero sum game. You sign up or you [email protected]#! off.
An empowering thought indeed…

This isn't pre-ordained, so stop acting like it is

There isn’t some higher power that decided contracts and legal disclosures had to suck. ‘We’ have progressively – perhaps through socio technological engineering creep – enabled this to happen.

Because of this it’s important to acknowledge that we are empowered to change it. We can start #MakingBetterTogether.

But how...?

In simple terms, these are the steps:

  1. Deepen your understanding of the current state. If you want a detailed evidence kit, reply in the comments
  2. Start actively learning about Better Disclosure, Legal and Contract Design
  3. Use the Better Disclosure Canvas
  4. Take the outputs and produce a new version of your in focus disclosure
  5. Put it to the test
  6. Socialise the results and ensure you emphasis the uplift, and
  7. attain buy in to make this stuff real for the benefit of your organbisations, your customers and the broader systems of living we can’t help but interact with
These are the types of results that can be achieved when you do this.

When you're 'done', share what you learn openly

We need more examples of good. The only way we’ll start seeing these is if people like you do the above and publish what you’ve done.

If you want to start diving deeper, connect with Nate and Mat on LinkedIn. Start engaging in the discussions we’re having. We all have a long way to go. We can do it if we work together.

Big ❤️ as always.