The Ruby on Rails and ClojureScript experts

May 22, 2012

Normally when you think of bad design, you think of laziness or mistakes. These are known as design anti-patterns. 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.


Some examples:

  • Bait and Switch: The user sets out to do one thing, but a different, undesirable thing happens instead. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it is very broad in nature – many dark patterns involve some kind of bait & switch.
  • Disguised Ads: Adverts that are disguised as other kinds of content or navigation, in order to get users to click on them.
  • Faraway Bill: Utility companies traditionally sent out monthly bills by snail mail, but today they tend to put them online – leading to bills that are rarely seen and easily forgotten. How you receive your bills is framed by companies as a choice between “offline” and “online”, but is in fact also a decision of “push” versus “pull”. With snail mail bills, you received a detailed breakdown each month. With online bills, few companies will email you the detailed breakdown, citing security concerns. Instead, you have to remember to log in, then go through the tedious process of navigating to your most recent bill. As a result, a certain proportion of people just don’t bother – and as a result they forget about the costs of the service, and aren’t able to react unexpected additions to the bill.

Other dark patterns:

  • Forced Continuity
  • Forced Disclosure
  • Friend Spam
  • Hidden Costs
  • Misdirection
  • Price Comparison Prevention
  • Privacy Zuckering
  • Roach Motel
  • Road Block
  • Sneak into Basket
  • Trick Questions
Link: Home – Dark Patterns via