The dark side of design
Malicious practices in UI Design
Similiar to the practices of stage magicians, malicious creators rely on manipulation of attention, awareness & misdirection
Malicious practices are the distortion of the heuristic principles in order to promote profit over people
Info below taken directly from UI Heuristics. The malicious intentions are my assumptions based on online research.
10 Heuristics for User Interface Design: Article by Jakob Nielsen
Jakob Nielsen's 10 general principles for interaction design. They are called "heuristics" because they are broad rules…
Shaming users: Manipulinks make users feel bad about themselves, to convince them to accept offer or sign up for a newsletter.
Stop Shaming Your Users for Micro Conversions
Manipulinks make users feel bad about themselves in order to convince them to accept an offer or sign up for a…
Visibility of system status: The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
Malicious: Some UX’ers have reduced visibility of system status, with the aim of tricking users, other instances are unclear labels, annoying navigation, and untimely messages. Or bait & switch technique is used, where a user expects a certain result from their action, but instead something completely unseen occurs. eg. trial sign up, but not notified that subscription immediately kicks in thereafter, and the amount remains so small, that you don’t really notice on statements.
Match between system and the real world: The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
How the money transfer industry uses UX dark patterns to hide fees
I recently took on the challenge of understanding why 96% of Americans that send money internationally are unhappy with…
Malicious: Instead of “speaking the user’s language,” the system would use ambiguity, appears to say one thing while it really says another. Or “hide in plain sight”
User control and freedom: Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
Dark patterns: When user interface design goes bad
In the last post, we explored how different devices (mobiles, tablets and desktops) influence our online behaviour..…
Malicious: Eg. the close button on a pop up, doesn’t close and instead redirects user. Also forced continuity, no exit provided. eg. Roach motel
When it comes to defaults, preselected option for subscribe is used. And it’s placed smaller or surrounded by clutter for the user to intentionally miss it. Thus automatically sign up for unwanted material.
Consistency and standards: Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
Malicious: Standard patterns which users are familiar with, are used in different ways to trick user. ie. disguised adverts
Error prevention: Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.
Malicious: Limiting choice to eliminate the types of input errors which can occur is good practice. However, bad practice, would be to confuse and intentionally make the user accidentally select unwanted items and not allow an undo function.
Confirmation options are changed to redirects or unwanted pop ups. Selling more crap that no one needs. Advantage is taken of person’s natural inclination to make mistakes they are then tricked into accidentally completing actions that are beneficial to business objectives, but not to the person.
Recognition over recall: Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.
Malicious: Information overload and misleading button labels.
Flexibility and efficiency of use: Accelerators — unseen by the novice user — may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
Malicious: Some processes are made unnecessarily more difficult, while others are made easier which meet only business objectives and not the users.
Aesthetic and minimalist design: Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
Malicious: Information overloaded designs mixed with familiar patterns, and incorrect/ mislabeled CTA’s causes user click on the wrong items and redirect to more advertising. Intention: misdirection
Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors: Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
Malicious: Expert users generally make mistakes as they familiar with the process. Thus they pay less attention. Advantage is taken of this by not encouraging user to check for errors, (or no visible indication that an error has occured), allowing more chance of slip ups.
Price comparison is prevented, preselected unwanted items aren’t highlighted, or the use of tricky, misleading opt-in questions
Help and documentation: Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.
Malicious: Documentation or help difficult to find or steps are too large to be carried out. User will give up especially when trying to return bought items or unsubscribe.
Good design is ethical N E X T →
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