How To Become An Honest UX Designer

How you can be honest to your users. And to yourself.

It takes a lot of efforts when you want your users to keep using your app.
And there is a lot of incentive too. But does that mean you should deceive or trap your users? Let’s discuss more on that.

What makes a design dishonest?

Do you remember those pages with a millions of Download buttons? And you just couldn’t figure out which one is the one you really should click, because all of them were of same color, same size and had same label on them? Yeah. Them feels! Good thing that they are disappearing slowly. The thing is, it is really important to provide your users a clear exit, just the way you provided a clear entry to them.

This falls under a very widely used phenomenon of Dark Patterns in UX design. Dark patterns are the things which designers do to trick their users in one way or the other.

It could be via misleading content where you start reading an article about something and you’re forced to watch an advertisement in between your reading experience. Or an abrupt popup asking you to claim $10Million dollars which you won by just visiting the website.

Have you ever tried creating a facebook page? Yes? Try finding an option to deactivate the page. Tell me how much time it takes. I am waiting.

“We need your phone number just for verification and maybe a few occasional SMS on our services and offers” Said Box8 while onboarding. “We’ll annoy the hell out of you with millions of useless texts everyday” They never said. I had to drop a message to them on Twitter. Yes.

A screenshot of the message I sent to Box8 to get my phone number out of there SMS list

It took me a google search to find out how to unsubscribe from their SMS service. There was no provision from inside the app or on their website. I had to use twitter to solve this issue.

Another thing which I’ve observed is keeping the Logout Button, hidden from the user. Why? I just do not understand.

Why people use dark patterns?

Most of the times, it is a business need. You want to reach people and hold on to them at any cost. You want them to keep reading your newsletters and come to your website again and again. You do not want them to leave your app, So you hide the logout button inside an Options tab inside the Settings screen which the user can access via app navigation.

As Harry Brignull has rightly said, “Dark Patterns are not mistakes, they are carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology”

It mostly happens when the management is not design conscious and does not understand how important it is to provide a good overall experience to the user. We, as designers, have bowed down in front of such demands. But no-more. We have to educate the decision makers that if we want to keep our users engaged, we have to be completely honest with them.

Here is how, as a UX designer, you can be honest to your users:

- Politely ask for feedback and do not force them to give you a feedback. Chances are, they’ll end up giving a feedback in frustration.
- Ask for recommendation and do not use their contact list and drop an email to everyone faking an invitation from the user. Yeah. LinkedIn. I am pointing at you.
- Let them exit your app when they want to and do not make them go through a pain of finding the logout button.
- Let them unsubscribe to a service easily if they do not want to continue and do not hide the unsubscribe button or ask a million questions when a user is unsubscribing.
- Do Guide your user and do not force your user, unless it is for good.
- Do let your user explore your system during the free trial for “Free”
and Do not ask your user for their credit card details when they are enrolling for a “Free” freaking trial!
- Do ask them if they want to have an auto-renew for a paid subscription
and Do not auto-charge your users credit card without informing them well in advance.

These are the few things I could think of/have suffered while using web/mobile apps. You might have experienced more such things.

You should always try and avoid dark patterns in your design.

Everyone needs to understand this simple mantra:

‘You HAVE to focus on your user experience first if you want to increase your revenue.’

Honesty in your design is going to be very beneficial for your app in a long run.

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