Word: Roach motel
Definition: A wide-ranging group of “dark ux patterns” that describe user experience techniques in which users can easily get into a certain situation but then, intentionally, have a hard time getting out of the given situation once they realize it is undesirable.
Reference: I first came upon this term on DarkPatterns.org and it seemed like the absolute perfect way to describe the occasionally nefarious practices taken by certain designers when they are not transparent with their users.
Example: I’m sure you’d like an example so you know what all that grumbling above is about. Have you ever had an extremely difficult time unsubscribing from a subscription service? There always seems to be too many screens and checkboxes that need vigorous attention before you can truly unsubscribe. I bet it only took one click for you to subscribed to the service! So why does opting out takes you down a rabbit hole of despair?
Just yesterday my boyfriend went to cancel his 14 day trial of the subscription book service, Scribd. Not only was the unsubscribe hard to find, but he had to sit through at least 5 screens asking if he was sure he wanted to leave. (For the record, he was 100% sure at the first screen). Even the Scribd help section lists the final step of this process as “‘Select “Deactivate your account’ on the bottom of the page and follow the onscreen prompts.” Why are there even prompts at all?! This should not be a hard nor time consuming process.
There is something to be said for a company that practices dark UX patterns and assumptions can be made about how they value their users.