Dark Patterns


00_Dark patterns cover

What are dark patterns?

Dark patterns are interfaces crafted in a way to trick the users into opting for something they initially didn't intend to, with one goal in mind: increasing the business profit. They are money driven, sneaky & intentional. But forced behaviour doesn’t result in a positive outcome in the long run. Sooner or later users will learn it the hard way and leave the service.   



Thanks to Harry Brignull, we have an identified group of 13 different dark patterns. You will recognize most of them as a specific pattern of e-commerce business. 

01_Disguised Ads

Disguised ads

Some pushy stuff here. These are adverts that are disguised as other type of content or navigation. They blend with the rest which makes it very easy for the user to click on them without real intention. 



This is the act of guilting the user for not choosing the option that was suggested to them. Wording is done in a way to shame the user. Passive aggressive much?

03_Bait and switch

Bait & Switch 

User is set to do one thing, but another undesirable thing happens instead which leaves the user confused, frustrated and dissatisfied. Cheating at the highest level.

04_Hidden costs

Hidden costs

Look twice, because the price highlighted is far from the one you will be paying. Hidden costs are an essential part of any e-commerce business. Shipping fee, cleaning fee, card fee… Can’t escape it!

05_Friend Spam

Friend spam

If you want to connect with your friend, maybe it is better to reach out personally. Don’t think they are trying to get to you through external online services that probably used your friend’s honest mistake or naive action which turned into spamming every contact on his list. Poor thing  ?

06_Forced Continuity

Forced continuity

This one is easy-peasy. We give you a free 30-day access to our lovely service, but in return, you give us your credit card. Feels fair, doesn’t it? Just make sure you remember to cancel the subscription on time. ?



The design makes you focus your attention on one thing in order to distract you from another. Reflex actions are faster than your mind. 

08_Roach motel

Roach motel

Easy to get in, but hard to get out. If it was a Facebook status it would be called: in a complicated relationship. 

09_Privacy Zuckering

Privacy Zuckering

If you want to continue using the service, you only have an option to agree to go under the company’s rules. However, terms and conditions are heavy text most of the time. Try reading them and you will know how your friend who studied law felt every time before taking an exam. 



Fear Of Missing Out. Better get it while it’s hot!

11_Sneak into Basket

Sneak into basket

This one is so common in webshops. But, what is funny is; try to imagine if you were in a physical store and someone just threw extra stuff in your cart, while you were watching something else. How awkward? But when it comes to online shops — sure, why not? Just make sure you check your cart before paying.  

12_Trick Questions

Trick questions

The wording is done in a way to confuse the user. Cancel the cancellation.  

13 Price Comparison Prevention

Price comparison prevention

Hard to compare the price of an item with another item, so you cannot make an informed decision.

This is a flowchart to see when each pattern mostly appears.


What ever our background might be, we all are users of some service, and deserve to get a fair experience in return of invested time and money. Experience design should always put the user first. Here are some basic advices for businesses and designers when it comes to dealing with dark patterns.


In the end

If you are a designer just getting started with UX/UI, think of it as a way to build up your research and design skills. For practice, try redesigning a specific dark pattern with more empathy towards users.

If you are an experienced designer, you can reflect on your previous work and see if you were ever forced to design a dark pattern? What was your approach? How did the business react? 

Noom: Better food color coding
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