Dark Patterns hunted by EU


The hype is building around Dark Patterns. Despite the name, it’s not a hipster-friendly indie ep release, but a movement to protect consumer’s interests online.

Dark Patterns.org was set up by independent user experience consultant Harry Brignull. He aims to help people understand deceitful user interfaces – those that have been carefully formed to manoeuvre users into taking certain actions, shifting the benefit from the user to the business. The Dark Patterns site is curated by worldwide contributors, and allows users to browse a library of name-and-shame style posts that are organised by descriptive categories. ‘Sneak into Basket’ is a classic; a recent iteration of seetickets.com‘s checkout process proves the perfect example, where the user doesn’t know about an additional £3.00 ‘cancellation protection’ charge until the transaction is complete.

And in a win for campaigners and consumers alike, new EU consumer rights laws have made certain Dark Patterns illegal across Europe. This includes the aforementioned Sneak into Basket tool, common across e-commerce sites. This poses the question; can we expect digital services to be managed and regulated in a similar fashion to those used by TV broadcasting and Advertising consumer watchdogs?

Doing ‘good’ design and practising ‘good’ business is about understanding consumers at a human level. It’s about being honest, open and clear.  Dark Patterns make a consumer experience confusing, and give the impression of an untrustworthy brand. It’s good news that companies that don’t understand the value of honesty and clarity will now face the legal consequences.

This article originally appeared in Moving World Wednesday.