How Websites Use Dark Patterns to Deceive Their Customers

Aug 29, 2019 By Kayode Oseh

Dark patterns are techniques website use to trick their visitors into performing a specific action or buying items. They use it to manipulate users into making decisions they wouldn't otherwise make, some people call it ' the killer bait'. While a good website design empowers users and let them make informed decisions, on the other hand, dark pattern design aims to obscure and confuse users by manipulating their will. Dark patterns are achieved through a variety of irritating design techniques and are frequently found on many of the eCommerce websites we all use daily.

Types of dark patterns, how to spot and avoid them.


When you are prepared to do one thing for a given outcome, but a different and undesirable outcome happens instead. For example, when a customer is lured ("baited") by merchants advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the online store, he or she discover that the advertised goods are not available, or rather he or she is pressured into considering similar products, but for a higher price ("switching").


Act of guilting the user into opting-in for something by shaming them into compliance. For example when a site asks users to sign up for their product or services and then the 'no thank you' button appears in such a way that the customer's integrity is questioned (shaming) and may be left with no other option but to accept the request and sign for the product.


The design makes it very easy for you to get into a certain situation, but then makes it hard for you to get out of it. For example when you easily subscribed to something and then find it difficult to unsubscribe yourself from it.


A purchasing situation where additional items and services are added by default to your purchase that you have no option but to end up paying for all of them. However, this method is very illegal in most countries and comes with a heavy penalty.


This is when Ads disguised themselves as other kinds of content or navigation, just to attract you to click on them. 


This occur when you didn't receive any sign of warning or notification beforehand that your free trials had come to an end for a particular service, then you ended up being charged for it -without being alerted. This often occur when using credit cards.


When you respond to a question, which at a glance may appear to ask one thing, but when you read it carefully, it asked another.


When you are being asked for your contacts under the pretense it will be used for a desirable outcome (e.g. help you finding friends to join you), but then spams all your contacts in a message that claims to be from you. Linkedin are very good at using this.


This is when you purchased something that looks cheaper but when trying to checkout you discover that there are some additional charges you must pay.


This is when your full attention is forced to focus on one particular thing while trying to distract you from others.


This is when the retailer makes it difficult for you to compare the prices between two different commodities just to enable you make to wrong decision.


It is designed in order to tricked you into publicly sharing more of your personal details that you would normally not like to share. Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg for this ill-practice. 

Leave a comment...