What are dark patterns?


dark patterns web

They are called Dark Patterns, they are everywhere but we hardly notice them. They are the dark side of UI and UX, interface elements designed for disorientate the user and lead him to perform unwanted actions or to discourage some of his choices.

Some examples of dark patterns

  • The microscopic unsubscribe link in the footer of a newsletter
  • a hard to notice X or clicking on a popup
  • An extra product or service added to your cart during checkout
  • Messages that want to make our choices seem stupid"No thanks, I don't want to save money

These are just a few examples of the dark patterns we interact with on a daily basis when we browse or purchase products. For us at BIGFIVE User Experience is important. Because of this let's avoid including them in the our works.

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In this video you will find some famous examples of dark patterns, such as the very complicated procedure for cancel your Amazon account. Spoiler: it's really, really hard.

How many types of dark patterns are there?

To date they are known 12 different categories of user experience manipulation.

Trick questions

By filling out a form you answer a question that leads you to give an unwanted answer. At a quick glance, the question seems to ask one thing, but if read carefully it asks another entirely.

Sneak into Basketball

You attempt to purchase something, but somewhere along the way the site places an additional item in your cart, often through the use of a checkbox or hidden link.

Roach Motel

When the signup/registration process is very simple, but then it is very difficult to get out of it (for example a premium subscription).

Zuckering Privacy

You are tricked into sharing more information about yourself publicly than you really want to. It is named after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Price Comparison Prevention

When the site or app makes it difficult to compare the price of one item to another, thus making it difficult to make an informed decision.


The design tries to draw your attention to one thing to distract it from another.

Hidden Costs

When you reach the last step of the checkout process you discover unexpected charges, e.g. shipping costs, taxes, etc.

Bait and Switch

You set out to do one thing, but instead a different or opposite thing happens.


The act of blaming the user for opting for something. The option to decline is worded in such a way as to make the user feel ashamed of making a certain choice.

Disguised Ads

Ads disguised as other types of content to trick you into clicking on them.

Forced Continuity

When your free trial with a service comes to an end and your credit card begins to be silently charged without any warning. In some cases the situation gets even worse making it difficult to cancel the subscription.

Friend Spam

The product asks for your email or social media permissions under the guise that it will be used for a desirable outcome (e.g. finding friends), but then spams all your contacts in a message claiming to be from you .

Is it legal to use dark patterns?

Dark patterns occupy a gray area, difficult to decipher and punished only in rare cases, the most famous being that of Linkedin, which took a fine of 13 million dollars for the system that forced the invitation of its contacts to the platform.

dark linkedin pattern



The Hall of Shame of dark patterns on Twitter


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