Posted by , . Filed under Roach Motel.

The sign-up process is very elegant and well designed. However, what they don’t tell you is that in signing up, you are also opting in to 19(!) different types of email notification, including marketing emails. As you may know, emails are a very valuable way of generating return traffic to a site. They obviously know this and are trying to discourage users from opting out through the use of “anti-usability”.


Geni Homepage


As you can see in the homepage / sign-up form above, there is no mention of notification options. Once signed up, you start getting quite a few emails. Most emails have a footer in that looks similar to the screen grab below. Note that they are inviting the user to unsubscribe from email alerts of a specific type (in this case, “new additions to your family tree”), of which there are 19 different types.



Geni Email footer


If the user clicks unsubscribe here, they are taken straight to an unsubscribe page, as shown below. No login required.

Geni: unsubscribe call to action


This is good, white-hat design (which implies that perhaps the original designer of the system had good intentions). However, if the user wants to unsubscribe from everything, they have to click the link at the bottom of the box (“Manage all of the notification emails you receive from Geni”). If the user simply clicks “Yes”, they are taken to their profile page, and their notification subscriptions are not displayed to them.


Geni: overly complex unsubscribe options


If a user manages to navigate their way to the notification page, they see a bewildering array of 19 notification subscriptions (shown above). They have to manually untick all 19: there is no single control to unsubscribe from them all. If you look closely at the options, you’ll notice that the 19 options could easily be condensed into 4 options, or at the very least, the user could be given the ability to bulk administer their subscriptions. In summary: a very naughty piece of anti-usability.


Update (Dec 2010): they have updated this user interface to allow users to opt out of all subscriptions in one click, as shown below. This is likely to have been in response to this wiki entry.

Geni recently changed the design of their notification settings page, allowing users to unsubscribe from all alerts with a single click.