Could scaring users be good UX?

Progressive disclosure

Deferring advanced features to a secondary screen is one of the best ways to satisfy the conflicting requirements of power and simplicity. This is called progressive disclosure.

Intimidating users

An example of progressive disclosure is a search box. The search box typically contains a link to an advanced search page since including advanced options on the same page will most likely confuse novice users. Jakob Nielsen recommends using an intimidating name:

It is important to use an intimidating name like "advanced search" to scare off novice users from getting into the page and hurting themselves. Search is one of the few cases where I do recommend shaping the user's behavior by intimidation.

Communicating risk

Consider this, a user with many years of experience using other applications is still a novice with respect to your application. Fearless novice users might ignore an intimidating name like "advanced settings". However, names such as UseBxfrMethod and requiring expert users to read manuals will likely be a "turn off" especially if they are not loyal users.

A better approach would be to have multiple secondary displays. For example, you could group harmless settings in one display and dangerous settings in another and clearly indicate the risk involved in progressing to the dangerous set of options while offering an easy way to access relevant parts of the documentation.


Github example

GitHub applied this concept in the repository settings page.

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This note is a reproduction of my answer to a question on UX Stack Exchange.