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Dark Patterns - A potential threat for UX design


3 Mins Read Time

By Mayursinh Jadeja

Dark Patterns UX design


Dark patterns are renowned in web designing these days but the definition of them is becoming tedious and a bit difficult.This might potentially prove to be unethical in many terms and can erode customer relationships.

Dark patterns are renowned in web designing these days but the definition of them is becoming tedious and a bit difficult. Dark patterns are adopted as design conventions making it critical to understand the various manipulative techniques in order to curate products that are ethical and customer-centric.

A persuasive UX design pattern is preferred and should always be on the top list as it maximizes and grabs the attention of the user community on the product. The popularity of persuasive UX design is because of the fact that users' preferences are considered and potent digital solutions as per users’ needs are implemented. They amplify and enhance the sense of satisfaction and trustworthiness endowed to the users.

Though persuasion is a positive aspect of effective design unlike dark patterns proving to be a forceful decision-making process pushing customers to buy and violate their intentions as well as interests.

Let us now explore together and understand more about dark patterns and how can they prove to be a threat to UX design.

Dark patterns -  Dark patterns in UX design are patterns that are misguiding and deceptive that force the and try exploiting the human behavior as well as thinking patterns to make user community do what they do not really wish to do.

A real-time example of dark patterns that Harry Brignull has shared is when a user is using or scrolling a webpage the tendency of reading every word is minimal. Skimming is the reading mechanism that users implement and they make assumptions and interpretations on the words read. Any software or website development company if asked by a business to trick customers they leverage the fact of rephrasing the words and phrases with meaning as per convenience. They defend against these user interfaces and hide.

Enlisted are the types of dark patterns:


  • Bait and Switch - User takes action and gets unexpected outcome foreseeing the necessary part
  • Disguised Ads - This dark pattern is used for distinguishing the advertisements from the website content 
  • Forced Continuity - To gain large users’ community and subscriptions offering free trials for users
  • Friend Spam - Social media permissions and contact details are captured with this
  • Hidden Costs - The user community undergoes multiple steps of the checklist which involves costs
  • Misdirection - Redirection to other not necessary websites through links available on the web page
  • Price Comparison Prevention - Association and comparison of prices of two products is made tedious so that users cannot proceed with it
  • Privacy Zuckering - Trick to ask users to make the data available publicly
  • Roach Motel - Easy entry but difficult exits exist
  • Trick Questions - A chain of questions are asked one after the other to collect opinions of data and businesses analyze the statistics

Dark patterns make customers lose trust in businesses and debar customer loyalty. Analysis and statistics say that around 11 percent of the websites and UI/UX designs have dark patterns embedded which are potentially deceitful as well as unlawful. Customers keep businesses going and it is next to impossible to lose loyal customers in quest of few monetary benefits. Transparent user experiences are a must in today’s world. The right amount of balance between business targets and customer requirements not just retains customers but gives them a sense of recognition. Dark patterns are a potential threat for UX design as it also erodes the customer base by incorporating some manipulative and deceitful techniques and strategies. It is always preferred to design strategies when designing websites and applications to keep customers in mind for the long term

Alternatives to dark patterns:


  • Use simple and plain English 
  • Retention package that persuades the user community before the final decision of subscription
  • Data privacy must be maintained 
  • Delay pop-up notifications
  • Maintain transparency with your customers
  • Include facts and confirmation buttons to agree on certain predefined terms
  • Show perquisites and benefits instead of not disclosing prices
  • Honesty is to be kept in terms of enlisting the benefits from products and services

Wrapping it up :

Running through the article on Dark Patterns - A potential threat for UX design we are at a conclusive point that it is a must to avoid dark patterns that are manipulative in certain ways to mislead the audience. This might potentially prove to be unethical in many terms and can erode customer relationships. Customer centricity is key for any business to happen and become successful. If you misguide and use unethical means to attract monetary benefits then brand loyalty will be at a toss. Brand loyalty is essential as gaining loyal customers makes you a niche player and stand out in the digital market amongst potential competitors. Never go or opt for something that is unethical and not in line with the customer's needs. Maintain a sense of transparency to gain the trust of your customers keeping their needs always in mind. Hire UI/UX designers that serve you to the best of their technical abilities and adept skill set. We not just design websites and applications but align with the digital market standards. Expansion of business globally and brand loyalty are the pillars on which our web designers design web pages and applications.

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