Problem summary

Guiding users through a process or experience provides opportunities to persuade along the way


When you join, the chrome layout of the sign up form page is radically different from the chrome of the main site itself. All menu items and other links that will distract attention from signing up has been stripped away to tunnel the user toward the goal of signing up.


  • Use when you want to close off detours from the desired behavior
  • Use when you want to focus on one goal more than many
  • Use when you want to direct users attention into conducting one action
  • Use when you want to design for conversion.
  • Use when the user has made a decision to carry out an action and want to help him or her focus on that goal until it has been achieved.

More examples


Close off detours from the desired behavior without taking away the user’s sense of control. Tunnel users through a decision-making process by removing all unnecessary functions that can possibly distract their attention from completing the process. The tunnel provides opportunity to expose users to information and activities and ultimately to persuasion.

Lead users through a predetermined sequence of actions or events, step by step. When users enter a tunnel, they give up a certain level of self-determination – once they have entered the tunnel, they have committed to experiencing every twist and turn along the way2.

When entering a tunnel, users are exposed to information and activities they might not otherwise have seen or engaged in otherwise. These information and activities provide opportunities for persuasion.


Tunneling makes it easier to go through a process. For designers, tunneling controls what the user experiences – the content, possible pathways, and the nature of the activities. Tunnels are controlled environments in which users must accept the assumptions, values, and logic inflicted upon them.

Tunneling is effective as we value consistency. Once users commit to an idea or a process, most tend to stick with it. This is especially true in a tunnel situations that have been freely chosen2.


1 Amanda Shiga, Persuasion and Information Architecture

2 B.J. Fogg, Persuasive Technology – using computers to change what we think and do, Morgan Kaufmann, 2003

More examples of the Tunnelling pattern See all 3 example screenshots

User Interface Design Patterns