Dark Patterns

The Maze On The Web

Posted by Adam Jemal on March 28, 2021 · 3 mins read

Why Is It So Hard To Delete Your Account But Easy To Buy More Stuff On The Same Website?

Well, this all due to designs called Dark Patterns. A term which was coined by U/X Designer Harry Brignull

What are Dark Patterns?

Henry Brignull describes Dark Patterns as “Tricks used in websites and apps that make you do things that you didn’t mean to”

  • Designs that makes it easy to get into a situation but hard to get out of

What Does All That Even Mean?

Essentially this means design takes into consideration on how it can create a user experience by making the application amazingly easy to use to the point where it’s encouraging maximum use but also strongly discouraging the user to leave

Take for instance the simple task of unsubscribing from a site you’re signed up on

I can bet if you tried unsubscribing now you would have to wade through a messy maze of links and nonsensical information so you give up and buy a new toaster from the website

  • This is not random or unintentional sloppy design by the developers
  • Instead it’s designed intentionally to discourage you from leaving


How Come I Never Notice Them?

Well mostly because this design is pretty subtle to the user (i.e. Us) who most likely most of us aren’t really focused when browsing the web

It’s sort of like showcases full of a little bit of everything of the whole store which are conveniently placed near cash registers and the exit of physical stores

My Thoughts On Dark Patterns?

It’s amazing how developers can combine tech and behavioural psychology in order to develop powerful subscription models for modern web-based applications

It’s kind of interesting that user experience involved in websites aren’t just about encouraging reuse and spending time on the site. They’re also involved in preventing you from unsubscribing or leaving.

I guess the old customer service notion that “The customer is always right” isn’t really part of the design in software or web development.

Instead the idea is going through a transformation where the notion is now

  • “Our product is the party, Do you really want to leave When so many are coming inside? Maybe take a break and come back?”


With the growing trends of securing user data and the growing dislike of ads. I guess many tech businesses will pivot into focusing on making subscription model as there primary revenue stream

  • Which would mean there main business goals would involve growing and maintaining there customer subscriptions
  • So the development of design patterns that influence growth and customer retention will be essential for companies


Dark patterns are web designs made to influence how the user behave on website beneficial for the website owners

It’s kind of cool but also part of the reason why it sucks when you try to unsubscribe from a service 😭