Why You Should Never Use Dark Patterns in Design

Dark Patterns

TechsPlace | The position of making a profit at all costs is far from being fair. Dark design patterns can cause companies significant financial losses and reputational damage. Read this post about the common dark practices in UX/UI design and learn the reasons why UX design services never use them in your products.

What are dark patterns?

Designer G. Bringull introduced the terminology in 2010. By dark patterns, he meant tricks, frauds, and pressure on users that force a visitor to a site or application to act in a way that is beneficial to the resource owners and not to himself. Dark patterns are widespread, as they increase conversion, contribute to the growth of orders, and increase companies’ short-term profit. However, professional designers never recommend using such techniques. In the long run, such an approach can be detrimental and disadvantageous for the firm.

Types of Dark Patterns

Users aim to solve their problem as quickly as possible, to purchase a product or service, so they may not even suspect the existence of dark patterns. But they are everywhere.

Here are some examples:

  1. Invisible paid subscription. A free version of the application that the user was looking for is offered. To activate an account or create an account, you must fill out a form. In addition to the required data, you must specify the credit card number. Without thinking twice, the user enters the required information and successfully works with the application. After the free period, the account automatically becomes paid, and money is debited from the store. You can find out about this only by bank statement. Other options for notifying the client are not provided.
  2. Adding goods to the basket. This version of dark patterns is used for large orders. At the last stage of registration in the table of orders suddenly appears that the client was not going to purchase. Typically, this is an item or service that the user has previously viewed or added to the favorites category.
  3. Forced mailing of advertisements. The rules for protecting personal data state that companies must request their customers’ consent to send them information of an advertising and marketing nature. Many sites circumvent these requirements by making the text with the question about the possibility of mailing so minor that most visitors do not notice it and press the “Continue” button. This action allows companies to add another email address to the mailing list.
  4. Forced updates. At one time, Microsoft forced users to upgrade the operating system to version 10. There were only two buttons in the pop-up window: Update Now and Update In The Evening. Even closing the window led to the fact that the OS was updated.

Other types of dark patterns are also practiced, for example, creating an account that is very difficult to delete, gaining access to the user’s contacts to send advertising messages to friends, imposing additional services, goods when placing orders, unexpected extra charges for shipping or insurance, etc. They may seem beneficial to the business but only harm.

What dark patterns are harmful

Suppose we tell the site owner that he is acting unethically, imposing newsletters, goods, and services on the user, manipulating his desires. In that case, no one will pay attention to these statements. Why abandon a scheme that works and makes a profit? A pragmatic approach is needed to prove the dangers of dark patterns. Therefore, it is advisable to bring the following arguments:

  • Experienced users recognize manipulations, and they annoy them. When a person realizes that the site owners are trying to “get into his wallet” and manage their desires, then this causes outrage. Sometimes the slightest annoyance is enough for the visitor to go to the competitors. Fortunately, this can be done with one click of the mouse.
  • Complaints and negative reviews about the resource cause substantial reputation damage to the company. Recall when Hassan Sayed said on Twitter that you should not use the services of British Airways. This tweet was commented on by major news media. The aviation company’s consequences were sad – the number of people who wanted to fly its planes sharply decreased.
  • Dark patterns can reduce profits and cause trouble and inconvenience. For example, if you automatically add special filters to the teapot, then at first, the profit from their sale will be enormous. Users will begin writing complaints, claiming that they have not ordered filters, ascending them back, demanding a refund. The company will have to inspect the filters, re-evaluate them, look for a place in the warehouse, and reimburse customers for expenses. This will result in financial loss and damage to reputation.


A designer who develops a simple, clear, and accessible interface will never use such tricks because it is unethical and dishonorable about people who will use the fruits of his work. Resource owners to convince themselves not to use dark patterns will help the above arguments.