Dark Patterns in UX


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Dylan Thomas' presentation from World Usability Day on 14th November 2013.

Dark patterns are anti-patterns with a nefarious purpose - intentionally flawed designs. Carefully-crafted ‘bad’ designs; built with a pinch of psychology and a healthy dose of trickery. This is an introduction to this interesting, and often fun, side of web design and some of the methods used by companies to swindle and snare their users. This is not user-centred design!

Dark Patterns in UX

  1. 1. Dark Patterns in UX A short guide to being evil
  2. 2. Who am I? Dylan Thomas - @DylanLT (I’ve heard them all before) User Experience Consultant for Box UK www.boxuk.com
  3. 3. What are Dark Patterns? An introduction to the dark side
  4. 4. Way back in 2010... Harry Brignull www.90percentofeverything.com Dark Patterns: dirty tricks designers use to make people do stuff www.darkpatterns.org
  5. 5. Dark Patterns are... • Intentional anti-patterns • Designed with a good knowledge of human • • psychology Designed to manipulate or deceive the user Tricks, traps and pitfalls
  6. 6. Psychology of Dark Patterns Tools of the trade
  7. 7. Dark Triad Machiavellian Narcissistic Psychopathic
  8. 8. Machiavellianism • Personal gain • Manipulation • Exploitation • Deception
  9. 9. Cognitive Biases People’s tendencies to think a certain way, sometimes influencing them to make irrational decisions. ! • Heuristics - hard wiring in the brain • Motivations • Beliefs • Emotions
  10. 10. Cognitive Biases • Confirmation Bias • Ingroup Bias • Gambler’s Fallacy • Post-Purchase Rationalisation • Neglecting Probability • Projection Bias • Anchoring Effect
  11. 11. Why Dark Patterns are Used Why good designers go bad
  12. 12. Why Dark Patterns are Used • Aggressive environments and targets • Focus on simple KPIs • More clicks • More sign-ups • More sales • Blinkered view on success • Profit • Greed
  13. 13. Why am I telling you all this? Why it’s good to know the tricks
  14. 14. Why am I telling you all this? • If people know the tricks, they can avoid • • • falling for them Companies can be shamed into changing their practices The psychology is interesting It’s fun!
  15. 15. Roach Motel Easy to get in. Hard to get out.
  16. 16. Roach Motel An interface that makes it easy, and often enticing, for the user to get into a situation, but difficult for them to get out.
  17. 17. Roach Motel Example - Email newsletters • Make it very easy for a user to subscribe to an email newsletter • Make the unsubscribe option difficult to find • Bad navigation • Confusing forms • Multiple newsletters • Not have the option online at all
  18. 18. Forced Continuity Cancel at any time during the free period
  19. 19. Forced Continuity A user signs up for a free trial of a service, but is asked for their credit card details. Once the free trial is over, the user is automatically billed. The user is not warned beforehand, and the site will often make it difficult to cancel (Roach Motel)
  20. 20. Forced Continuity
  21. 21. Hidden Costs WTF is a ‘convenience charge’?
  22. 22. Hidden Costs The practice of adding on costs and charges at the end of a checkout process, that were not previously detailed.
  23. 23. Hidden Costs • Facility charge • Convenience charge • Order processing fee • £2.50 to print out my own bloody tickets!
  24. 24. Trick Question Tick this box to opt-out of not opting-in
  25. 25. Trick Question A question, when glanced upon briefly, appears to ask something one thing, but on closer inspection, is asking something else. “We don’t read pages. We scan them” - Steve Krug
  26. 26. Trick Question
  27. 27. Trick Question
  28. 28. Trick Question
  29. 29. Trick Question
  30. 30. Disguised Ads Download buttons, download buttons everywhere.
  31. 31. Disguised Ads Adverts disguised as UI elements in order to trick users into clicking on them
  32. 32. Disguised Ads
  33. 33. Other Examples • Gambling • Fruit machine design • “Snake oil” • Advertising • Retail • Inkjet printers • Banks and Credit Cards
  34. 34. Free to Play Games And how cookies affect our resolve
  35. 35. Free to Play Games Video games that are free to acquire and play, but offer virtual items, currency, gameplay enhancements, and shortcuts for a price.
  36. 36. Free to Play Games Ego Depletion Dr Roy Baumeister - Cape Western University
  37. 37. Free to Play Games
  38. 38. Free to Play Games
  39. 39. Free to Play Games
  40. 40. Free to Play Games
  41. 41. Free to Play Games
  42. 42. Free to Play Games
  43. 43. Free to Play Games
  44. 44. The Big Question
  45. 45. Should we use these techniques? • Yes • No • Maybe • It depends
  46. 46. Should we use these techniques? User Experience should put the user first (In an ideal world)
  47. 47. Should we use these techniques? Influencing the user isn’t always evil and it’s rarely black or white
  48. 48. Should we use these techniques? Pissed-off users are less likely to return
  49. 49. Should we use these techniques? Business needs should be in line with the user’s needs (In an ideal world)
  50. 50. To Summarise What I think about all this
  51. 51. To Summarise • Do be aware what you’re influencing the user • • • • • • to do Do have empathy Do promote the benefits of user-centred design Do have a holistic view of success Don’t game the system Don’t deceive the user Don’t be evil
  52. 52. Thank you! Dylan Thomas - @DylanLT South Wales Usability Discussion Group - @SW_UK
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