Dark Patterns have been developing gradually and relentlessly. They are designed to inconspicuous, deceptive, and will continue developing the same way as businesses gain ground in UX. Most of the startups leverage dark pattern designs to drive up conversion rates and traffic to their websites as well as to their mobile apps. But, are there any long term gains?
The simple, straightforward answer to that is: No.
Dark Patterns are quite frustrating for the users and only result in temporary gains for the businesses. They are little traps on webpages & mobile apps that “trick” a customer into performing an action that results in something the user did not expect. In the long run, users will hate your brand for tricking them. The bottom line is, you do not want them in your products.
Unfortunately, businesses are not always aware of when they end up using dark patterns. It could be because they have copied a concept from an otherwise popular website. Or it could be that the decision was left to a team that ends up trying to meet targets using these unsavory tactics.
In this blog, we discuss the 5 common dark patterns in UX that every startup should avoid in their product to create an honest user experience.
1. The Bait and Switch
The act of bait and switch is – like the dark UX designs – a process for startups and service providers to pressure users into performing something they didn’t initially mean to be doing. Bait and switch, in true terms, is a sales or retail strategy which is considered to vend a fraud.
Try not to mislead customers by changing patterns without warning them. In other words, if a blue button reliably takes customers to the next level, and it suddenly becomes a “Buy” button, then it’s an act of bait and switch. Customers will naturally click it before understanding that it does something different than the other buttons of the same size and color. Customers wouldn’t be able to sense that they have been trapped into taking an action, it requires spending money.
2. Hidden Costs
Hidden costs are considered as the oldest trick in the dark pattern designs. It incorporates adding unforeseen charges to the visitors’ product order. When visitors visit a website or an app, they see the product they like and are happy with the listed price of the product. They experience a multi-step checkout process for buying confirmation. But then, unfortunately, towards the end of the checkout process, they get unexpected charges that appear on an order such as taxes, delivery charges, and more.
For instance, Many eCommerce organizations hide extra costs. When you include the transportation expense, cleaning charge, comfort expense, and various other hidden costs, it’s not the cheapest option at all. Thus, businesses should not slip undesirable items and costs into their customer’s cart.
3. Intentional Misdirection
Intentional misdirection happens when product developers and designers try to guide users to an option. This pattern is specially created to boost the business value of the company. This type of pattern is the trickiest and hardest to work around since it actually “proposes” customers the probability rather than sneaking it into their checkout basket.
Confusion is normal when it comes to unsubscribing from unwanted messages or email. The customers may experience considerable difficulties in trying to find the “cancel subscription”, because of the pre-highlighted “keep my subscription” button. These buttons keep on nudging the customers to pay for the current selection. This can even result in quick dismiss of visitors who are trying to buy last-minute products.
4. Disguised Ads
This one is quite crystal-clear; these are known as self-explanatory as they look like content or navigation tabs. Ads are commonly situated at specific places on the page, and customers only need a microsecond to isolate themselves from the regular content. These promotional ads are designed to look like regular content or navigation tabs in order to entice the customers to click on them.
There are numerous product download sites or eCommerce shopping websites that contain advertisements that look like call-to-action buttons to download software. These buttons almost use the same font and the dark blue color as for the real download buttons. Subsequently, clicking on the button accidentally isn’t a daunting task for the users.
5. Trick Questions
Have you ever tapped on any red or green button shown on a website or an app? If visitors often click on a certain button thinking that it means to “proceed” or “exit” but you use it for other purposes, then that’s a dark pattern. When the UI throws up a query which has to be answered but is worded in a way that the user will most obviously pick the wrong answer, then that’s a Trick Question.
Commonly, these questions arise as a pop up when users are registering onto some service or trying to download something. A series of checkboxes are shown, which are tweaked or worded in a way that choosing a checkbox means “quit” while leaving it empty means “opt-in”. The tricky question pattern is based on the concept of using difficult language such as double negative language in questions in order to trap the reader. As a result, it becomes difficult for users to understand the question.
To conclude, dark pattern designs in UX are everywhere! If you see them on any of your website or mobile app design, it’s an ideal opportunity to redesign the website or the app right now. We bet that once you read this article, you’ll start recognizing the benefits of a good UX design in building customer loyalty, trust, and eventually a large customer base.