“A Dark Pattern is a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.” (Brignull, 2010)

It is common practice to use so-called Dark Patterns as ways to boost profits, and trick users into completing actions they didn’t notice or mean to. Be aware of the interactions built into your products, talk openly about their ethics, and commit to reducing your dependencies on deception. Instead, aim to build a positive relationship between your brand and your users. The causes of these ‘sneaky’ design decisions can be tackled at their root and if they are continued to be used, it can be assumed that they are done so with the deliberate intention of their impact.

Example of this Principle in Action

Basis of this Principle

Dark Patterns are everywhere and in some cases, have become the unquestioned status quo, with designers exploiting user vulnerability in the race to hit targets and boost revenues. It is the practice of trying to trick or force people to do (or consume) something they had no awareness or intention of doing. Some common examples of Dark Patterns include disguised ads, hidden costs, confusing tick boxes, and forced information disclosure. It is common for Dark Patterns to be created consciously; a symptom of companies failing to acknowledge or care about the difference between the user’s motivation for using a product and their own business needs. Before Facebook launched the Messenger app in 2015, Facebook users would initially be led into Facebook’s bottomless news feed before being able to access the Messages tab. It is not uncommon for business models to extensively rely on Dark Patterns. For instance, disguised native advertising is a major income stream for many print, online and audio publications.