Tagged: User Hostile

Dark Patterns Revisited

Posted on February 9, 2012 by - Success Metrics, Usability, User Experience, User Hostile

I ran across another great post on dark patterns by Harry Brignull on A List Apart a few days ago.  I first learned about dark patterns back in December 2010, and I was immediately intrigued by the concept of consciously using psychology & UX methodology to mislead the user.

Mr. Brignull not only provides clear illustrations and real-world examples of how dark-patterns like hidden costs, trick questions, and forced continuity are utilized but, more compellingly I think, he explains that despite whether dark patterns are implemented intentionally or via misadventure they are often hard to eliminate.  Dark patterns often perform well in A/B and multivariate test because their subterfuge frequently results in more conversions; eliminating the dark patterns usually means at least a temporary decrease in conversions and/or revenue.

It’s a great read, and don’t just take my word for it, head over to A List Apart so you learn more about dark patterns, and possibly find out where you and/or your organization falls on the “honest interface to dark patterns continuum” scale!

The continuum from honest interfaces to dark patterns.


Easy fix for HTTPS error message

Posted on March 14, 2011 by - ROI, Usability, User Experience, User Hostile

Just saw a post on Paul Irish’s Blog explaining the “protocol relative URL”, which appears to be a great way to eliminate this confusing (or possibly even scary for some) error message in IE: “This Page Contains Both Secure and Non-Secure Items”.

Microsoft IE Error Message "This page contains both secure and nonsecure items"

Who wants to deal with this dialog box? No one.

The code is a relatively simple change and there are very few caveats, so this seems like a fix that could significantly increase user confidence when browsing in environments that move from HTTP to HTTPS .

HTTPS Goes Mainstream

HTTPS usage has recently moved beyond the e-commerce and banking/financial sectors:

Given the ridiculously heavy traffic on those two sites, it’s pretty obvious that the issue of moving back and forth between secure and unsecured websites, and even between secured/non-secured sections of the same website, will be a much more common activity.

And although IE has been losing market share of late, it is still too much of a force to be ignored.  Today’s release of the (allegedly) HTML5 friendly IE9 today at SXSW seems to indicate IE isn’t going away anytime soon.

Big Return on User Experience (and Investment)

I plan on investigating this seemingly simple fix, as the words NON-SECURE ITEMS create uncertainty, and are likely to give pause to many users.

The results of that “pause” or “uncertainty” ranges from simply slowing the user down and “making them think”, to eroding trust in your brand, to the worst-case-scenario of causing a previously happy consumer to abandon his or her shopping cart due to security concerns.  And no one wants that to happen.


‘Dark Patterns’ suddenly all up in my face

Posted on December 5, 2010 by - Social Media, Success Metrics, User Experience, User Hostile

While a lot of bad interface design can be blamed on ‘not knowing any better’, there is also a more  sinister form of bad design called “dark patterns” in which case bad design can be blamed on malfeasance; the interface is explicitly designed to confuse and/or trick the user.

These “dark patterns” were new to me (I first saw mention of them a few weeks ago via a tweet from @willsansbury that linked to a summary of Aaron Walters’ Interface Design Bootcamp, and Mr. Walter’s post included a link to the Dark Patterns Wiki) but the concept of consciously using psychology & UX methodology to mislead the user was unexpected and quite intriguing.

Then the next day my friend and awesome-UX guru Tyesha Snow posted Dark Pattern: Now You See it Now You Don’t on her blog. Two days two mentions of dark patterns; suddenly it was all up in my face and I wanted to know more.

There are, of course, several ways to define exactly what dark patterns are but Tyesha did a great job of boiling exactly what a dark pattern is so I’ll share hers here:

Site designers place the functionality or information they want you to find front and center, then move it once you have completed the desirable behavior so you are less likely to undo said desirable behavior or re-find  information that does not support  the business’s plans for you.

and then she uses an example of trying to “Unlike” a business that you’ve previously “Liked” on Facebook, and how incredibly tedious and convoluted that process is. Sensitive to how ugly a big UNLIKE button would be she provides