"Normally when you think of 'bad design', you think of the creator as being sloppy or lazy but with no ill intent. Dark Patterns are different – they are not mistakes, they are carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind."

These designs trick people into signing up for recurring payments, buying extra trip insurance, "agreeing" to unwanted newsletters or phone calls, buying items sneaked into the shopping cart, and so forth...

They take advantage of our tendency to quickly scan rather than carefully read web pages. Many of them hijack our common heuristics such as assuming that the relevant choices are above the OK/Continue/Submit button (a good way to hide stuff you're "agreeing" to below the fold!), or assuming that all the checkboxes for permissions have the same sense ("do contact" vs. "don't contact").

Here's a journey map showing the process of using a website. It should be clean, without all the manipulative arrows of the various dark patterns:

I've encountered some noticeable examples of this on a popular shopping site.

The website darkpatterns.org is well worth reading, for self-defense if nothing else. There's a narrated slidecast, or you can directly browse the library of dark patterns

What do you think? Have you run into this trickery?



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Replies to This Discussion

Thank you - that was an interesting article.

This blows my mind. Thanks, grinning cat.


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