All Posts in dark ux

September 12, 2017 - Comments Off on Door-in-the-face


Word: Door-in-the-face

Definition: The notion that refusing a large request (figuratively getting the door slammed in your face) increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, smaller request, shortly thereafter.

Reference:  A compliance method from social psychology, this technique works because of the principle of reciprocity (Cialdini et al, 1975). Saying "no" to a large request creates a feeling of guilt towards the asker, and in turn, the person being asked now feels as if she owes something. This manipulation strategy is often used in marketing.

The concept plays into design strategy when dealing with subscription fees or add-on purchases, for example. Think about a time when you bought an online subscription. There are often multiple packages to choose from. Once you've looked over the choices and decided the expensive option is outrageous, you are more inclined to see the less expensive option as more reasonable in comparison. Hence, your guilty conscience may lead you to buy yet another unwanted and unneeded steaming music service!

Thoughts/Questions: As a user experience designer, where does your job end and the marketing department's job begin? Should a line be drawn between marketing tactics and what's best for the user?

August 25, 2017 - Comments Off on Roach Motel

Roach Motel

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 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 check boxes that need vigorous attention before you can truly unsubscribe. I bet it only took one click for you to subscribe 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.