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Dark UX: Manipulative Techniques to Stay Away From

Web designers use a combination of techniques to attract and maintain a customer base. This includes executing digital marketing strategies over social media and your website. Running a website requires you to employ services that optimize your website for search engines and adapt the latest in the world of web optimization. At the same time, good user experience (UX) design is also key to enhancing how a customer interacts with your brand.

However, just like any industry, the design industry is not free from ill practices. One of them is the use of dark UX. Essentially, dark UX is the use of design to manipulate or trick a user into making a decision that solely benefits a company. The action is often at the expense of the customer and does not consider their preference or interest.

What Are Examples of Dark UX?

1. Surprise Items

So you are shopping for an item on a website. Suddenly, a two-year warranty is added when you reach the checkout page. You don’t have any recollection of you adding that to your cart. Well, surprise, the company added it for you.

This also happens when you book flights on some websites. As you confirm your booking, you will notice that the total amount due includes the seat selection fee and extra baggage allowance. And then the burden of deselecting those add-ons is on you.

If you are not paying close attention, you will pay more than you intended to. Sometimes, upon checkout, it’s not add-ons that you will find but hidden costs you were not made aware of before you decided to check out the item.

2. Misdirecting Design

This usually happens when you enter a new website and a sign-up or subscription pop-up appears on the screen. The Subscribe button is right in the middle in bright red color. However, you can’t find the exit button. It’s there, but it’s usually color gray so you can’t immediately see how to exit the pop-up.

Some designers also switch out the usual places of options. In most designs, the option you likely choose for action is on the right side. For example, when you delete messages, Delete is the option on the right. When you turn off your phone, the Turn Off button is also on the right. Another example of dark UX design swaps these positions to intentionally trick you into clicking the option that will benefit them. So instead of Cancel, you accidentally press Proceed.

3. Confirmshaming

How will you feel if after declining an insurance offer from an agent, they tell you, “It’s okay, I see that you don’t like to protect your family.” That is downright rude and awful, right?

That is exactly what some websites do when you try to decline what they offer. Sometimes, an option to exit an offer will say, “I don’t like discounts, I’m rich.”

Who will feel good clicking on such a shame-ridden statement?

4. Forced Continuity

Do you ever mark your calendar with a reminder of when to cancel a subscription? You are not alone. So many people do this, and it’s because of forced continuity. Usually, you are given a discounted price for the first time you sign up for a service. Later on, when you are not using the product anymore and have forgotten about it, you will suddenly realize that you were charged for multiple months.

Do Away from Dark UX

Essentially, some designers intend UX design to make a user’s experience worthwhile. Design should contribute to improving the user’s interaction with a product or service.

Good UX considers the habits, preferences, and ease of access of users. Examples of good UX design are when you can log in quickly to a website, feedback forms, easily accessible membership cancellations, and more. As far opposites go, dark UX and good UX are now counted. In fact, there is also bad UX which is often accidental. Poor design is what bad UX is all about.

Dark UX is entirely different; there is nothing accidental about it. This practice is sneaky and filled with ill intentions. If you use this and you think that your customers will be okay with it, you can’t be more wrong. It can cause you to lose customers and ruin the loyalty you should be working hard to get.

Give your customers what they want and need. Refrain from manipulative and deceitful practices. There are so many ways you can build a successful website without the use of dark UX.

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