Presentation Experience

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Full Title or Meme

What should the User Experience be when a user first browses to a web site?


  • This page is about the user receiving an presentation to engage with a site different than the one to which they navigated.
  • This page does not address any actions on a web site where the user is already actively engaged.


There are two distinct problems in choosing to click on a link:

  1. Downloading a script, an Adobe PDF or Microsoft Office document may very well contain an attack against the computer that has not been prevented by installation of a bug fix. They do not require the user to take any other action after allowing the download.
  2. Downloading a link or viewing an email may be misleading to the point of causing a action which can allow access to your computer or your bank account. These are also known as Phishing Attacks. They rely on the user taking an action that causes the security breach.

User Expectation

The user in on email or Social Media and sees a presentation to click on a link. What should the user expect?

  1. They don't need to be educated about the technical problems with the technology in their hands.
  2. The integrity of the user's device is not impacted.
  3. There is no monetary penalty when first engaging with any site.
  4. Any continuing relationship between the user and the web service is not established on the first click.

What information and tagging comes under the covers.

  1. A variety of information about the site where the user was when the link was clicked will be in the http header.
  2. The link on the site can be preloaded with information provided by the author of the link.
  3. Depending on the user agent, it is possible that the following information is passed. The conditions of privacy on the user agent may be settable by the user.
    1. third-party cookies,
    2. Geo-location information,
    3. a Mobile Advertising ID, or
    4. user search terms.
  4. It is possible for the site to deposit a cookie as a part of display of the first screen with any of this information included in that cookie. This cookie will be available to the site whenever that user goes to that site late with the same device and browser.

Consumer Tracking

Or what is Presented to the user by the user agent before the user has made any choice about navigation to any particular web site.

It should be no surprise that advertisers would like to only pay for advertisements that are presented to potential customers. That is why we create demographic profiles of people who watch particular TV shows or subscribe to particular magazines. Now that we are in an era of big data, we can know a whole lot about every person and can make adjustments to the price of advertising to participate groups. In fact, we can track every bit of data about the customer to make a decision about what to advertise to them. In the most infamous example, Target knew that one member of a household purchased folic acid in the pharmacy and so they started sending advertisements to that household for baby care products. The father of the household was furious at this assumption and assumed that it was wrong. But it was not. His teenage daughter was, in fact, pregnant and Target figured that out before he did. All of this was before Google existed.

What Google, and subsequently all large websites, discovered is that the questions that were asked could be used to infer what the customer was interested in. And if an advertiser has placed a cookie on that browser because of a customer interest, Google could figure that out (by looking at a Third Party cookie) and allow vendors to target customers that had visited the vendor website. This tracking freaks people out. If I bought a present for my partner or my child, I am now targeted with ads focused on that partner or child. Or worse, (At least people who are not habituated to it.) if I purchased some unsavory product, any web search on my computer would know that and show other unsavory products, even if I was not the one using the computer or sharing my screen with another. It is also open to discovery by law enforcement.

So now governments, like the EU, create laws that address the cookies that are placed on browsers by advertisers, when what is needed is control on the web sites as to what is done with those cookies. In other words, the cure doesn't fit the disease at all. What is worse, the cure created a new problem of lots of requests to users as to whether to allow cookies, when the problem is somewhere else. Thus, the consumer is more annoyed after the government-mandated cure is applied than they were before the cure was applied. Clearly legislatures do not understand technology.

Current Experience

  • On some User Agent, like a Browser or email program a user navigates to a web site, possibly by clicking on a highlighted link on another web site.
  • Even as the web site gets its own cookies from the user's browser, it gets to load a program into the browser that can access any API available in the Browser.
  • That seems like a lot of information given to a web site that was just happened to be the target of a link on some other site.