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Dark PatternsEver Spotted a Dark Pattern? This is when design is used, to trick visitors into doing something, they might not otherwise do.

We scan more, rather than read in full, leaving us vulnerable. The black hats of UX exploit this behaviour, using Dark Patterns to mislead us when purchasing online.

This high risk technique of misleading customers is as old as selling itself. Dark Patterns can deliver short-term gain but risk long-term brand dis-loyalty. Once duped, visitors may never return again. So, it’s important to stay on the side of gentle nudges rather than downright lies!

View slide show of examples

Types of Dark Patterns

Price Anchoring

Offer 3 price options. The higher price makes the ‘basic’ price seem like a bargain. Labelling the mid-range price ‘most popular’ uses herd behaviour to discourage visitors from picking the cheapest.

Trick Questions

Sky has an unchecked checkbox on their sign up form. It states “Sky may contact you about products and services you may like unless you click to opt out”. Many will leave this unchecked, without reading beyond “Sky may contact you about products”!

Sneak into Basket

Illegal in the UK. Adding extras into your shopping basket, without your awareness. Often placed ‘below-the fold’, they use pre-selected check boxes and discrete fonts.

Hidden Information

Ryanair buries ‘Don’t insure me’ option within a long drop down list of countries, hoping you will miss this additional fee.

Bait & Switch

First attract customers to goods at a bargain price. Then substitute for low quality or a higher priced good, prior to purchase. ‘Bait and Switch’ is illegal, in the UK.

Bait and Switch Only-Fools-And-HorsesAs old as Del Boy!
In the offline world, Bait & Switch was in plain sight, during the early 1990’s recession.

Back then, London’s Oxford Street had plenty of empty shops. They’d be temporarily filled with real life Del Boys.

Nicknamed ‘Mock Auctions’, there’d have their Rodneys and Mickeys in the crowd ‘buying’ valuable goods at record low prices. Then once they had baited a genuine punter, with real money, they’d switch and hand them a junk lot.