How websites trick you

One of the things we talk about on our training courses is the importance of good design – particularly when it comes to web pages.

Bad design means users can’t do what they want, they get frustrated, call you for help or stop paying for your product. It costs you money.

Good design means happier users that stay with you longer, recommend your product and call you less for support. It makes you more money.

But sometimes companies do things that are designed to confuse you and benefit them.

And these are big companies with household names that we come across every day, not just dodgy web-based startups.

Is it good or bad design?

I recently came across a website called https://darkpatterns.org/.

Dark Patterns are described as tricks used on websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things that you don’t mean to.

The purpose of the website is to spread awareness and to shame companies that use them. And, it also wants to help you and I to spot these tricks so we’re not taken in by them.

When you use the web, you don’t read every word on every page – you skim-read and make assumptions. If a company wants to trick you into doing something, they can try to take advantage of this by making a page look like it’s saying one thing when in fact it’s saying another.

Let me show you an example that’s shown on the website.

I’ve removed the logo to protect the guilty/clever marketers – depending on your point of view.

I’m sure the A/B test went well on this… but is it good or bad design? And is it right or wrong?

Take a look at https://darkpatterns.org/. It’s run by a UX Consultant called Harry Brignull – I think you’ll enjoy it.

Ian Lunn
Director, Product Focus