The secret power behind a BAD User Experience

The classic thought when we get an email confirmation and you just realized that you purchased an additional product or service that you never wanted to buy. And let’s be honest…we all did it!

The first reaction is to go back to the site and check whether it’s a scam. We start hysterically clicking the back button until we get to the product page. Then we start double checking every single line of content and when we realized that it’s our fault. “Oh s**t! How did I miss that?”. We start beating ourselves up for not having read the T&C or not paying enough attention. In this instance, yes it’s our fault mainly, but it’s a much bigger phenomenon than us being clumsy.

We have been the prey of a new discipline of design called DARK PATTERN DESIGN. And, Yes, it’s a real branch of UX! What this does is informing the digital design based on behavioral patterns and, instead of making it easy for the users to consume an experience, they are using pain points in their advantage and they make it hard for the users to detect all the information in the experience.

You may call it “deceiving design” or “hypnotic design” but as far as the legality goes, it’s totally legit because they are displaying all the information to the users. They are just presenting it in the worst way for us to consume.

They know that we are skim reading everything now, so the ability of these dark UX designers is to create the smoothest experience for the things that need to surface (i.e. using best practices for a check out process) and “hide” in the context the things that bring more money to the organization (I.e. insurance on flights)

One perfect example of Dark Pattern Design is Amazon. Have you ever tried to delete your Amazon account? They hid the cancel button into the most convoluted site-map and it is so hard to find to the extent that users just give up and keep paying the service.


⟶ If you have some time watch this VIDEO [7 min] 


What does it mean for us marketers?

I personally find it quite fascinating that designers are thinking about how to make the experience “worse” for the users. It’s even a harder job for those UX guys because they need to think about how to make the best and the worse experience in the same design module.

All in all, this tells us that, we don’t always have to create the best experience for the users, but we need to create the best experience for the users given the business goals that we need to accomplish. This strategy may work for some organizations and for the “1 shot kind of offering” but it will never bring a high LTV.  

When it comes to our clients, let’s always make sure that we are transparent in our communication and there are no “hidden” buttons to push. The experience needs to add value to the brand and a lost and complaining customer might be more expensive than 10 new ones that we convert. Be sure though that we can learn a great deal from these companies.