There was a time when clickbait once ruled the web and often tricked people into doing certain actions that were usually undesirable. Only by chance were some of those actions desirable but then again, clickbait is something everybody frowns at.
Clickbait is not the only trick on the internet. There are many other online tricks on web pages, applications, pop-ups, and forms that often dupe people into performing certain online activities. Thankfully, the web has now improved but clickbait still lies within.
These tricks are basically referred to in sophisticated terms as dark patterns. They are instrumental in watering down the user experience to humiliatingly low levels and are instrumental in annoying internet users and website visitors.
Moreover, there is a tiny advantage creator of dark patterns use to receive from someone else clicking the wrong item. To be honest, that tiny advantage is itself a disadvantage.
Let us now read more about dark patterns so web designers can become aware of them and work together with web development teams to avoid their creation.
Dark Pattern – what exactly is it and why is it a problematic thing to watch out for?
Team leads of web design and web development from a well-known web design company in Dubai explain that dark patterns are still seen in web designs all over the internet and not much space is being devoted to discussing ways in tackling them.
When people visit a website, they often do not read each word present on the page. Instead, they scan through the page and make accurate decisions and actions. If there is an entity that desires to mislead users into taking an untoward action, they may do so by using a disguised webpage full of clickbait links.
Using a web design strategy that misleads website visitors on purpose into taking an action they don’t want to raises a lot of ethical concerns. This technique will inflate statistics by artificial means, especially in terms of clicks visitors didn’t want to make. Nowadays, this kind of click is easily caught thanks to advanced web security tools.
The various kinds of Dark Patterns present
Here are the various kinds of Dark Patterns available for use in web design:
This kind of dark pattern in web design actively directs a user’s attention to one item first, and then eventually diverts it towards something else. Usually, this takes the shape of the provision of unwanted information to a website.
However, the most prevalent kind of deception present in this regard is a perplexing design. Here, the usual no button flips to confirm or in other cases, design appears to have just an individual correct response.
Hidden advertisements are cleverly disguised as content or navigation panes, so visitors can click on them whenever they visit a website. They usually are embedded either in a navigation option, the navigation pane, the website’s content, or all of them.
Forcing visitors to continue
This is usually referred to as forced continuity. It would be wise for internet users and website visitors to read the terms and conditions of web apps and other interactive material on a website. In short, they should not let any company charge them a price for free items.
Spam is commonly used to not just mislead users but also to carry out cyberattacks of various kinds. It happens when users connect either a social media account or their email address to either an app, a web app, or a website.
Usually, it takes place when users look for a partner to play an online game. Afterward, the partner gets bombarded with a lot of unwanted emails and messages. Thus, a dark pattern.
Any considerations for ethical behavior?
There are numerous ethical concerns when it comes to using a design technique in web designing, especially those having even the slightest hint of a dark pattern. Should organizations continue using such designs? Or should they be straightforward and create user loyalty by means of a reliable web design for a website?
The answer to this question may seem to be simple but a lot of well-known companies have been utilizing dark patterns. Despite knowing this, they still continue to do so.
Let us consider the websites people visit frequently; let us ask them how often the button they intended to click/tap has been hard to find? When companies are looking to add dark patterns to their website, they should consider the following questions:
- Is this design method needed to pursue users in performing a certain action?
- Is the company deceiving customers into doing something they don’t intend to carry out?
- In terms of the design, will it engage users or frustrate them?
- Does the company intend to tell users what is really happening behind the scenes in their analytics and reporting?
If the answer to the first two questions is yes and the answer to the third question indicates user frustration, then they indicate usage of dark patterns in a website.
What are the alternative options to prevent usage of dark patterns in web design?
There is no valid reason for web designers to add dark patterns to a website. Why? Because there are better options present needed to create user-friendly websites that are engaging and through ethical means too.
By designing website elements in line with standard guidelines for usability, both web designers and developers will avoid misleading users and visitors alike. They should avoid changing an element’s design in the midst of a user journey, nor should they conceal any links or advertising.
In terms of web apps being used, the expenses, terms and rules should be mentioned clearly. Companies should not shy away from using upfront pricing (especially in eCommerce). Moreover, discounts and promo codes should only be provided when consumers expect to have them.
While dark patterns may be found in a majority of websites, they can be detected through a wide array of detection and development tools. Moreover, this post surely can be helpful in helping many people detect them. No web designer or developer should fall into the habit of using them. Why? There is no advantage in using dark patterns. To create a loyal and valuable user base, websites should be designed in a trustworthy manner preventing tricks and clickbait.