Dark Patterns You Should Avoid to Achieve Ethical UI Design

May 17,2017

Just like how there is black hat SEO, there is black pattern for UI design. Dark pattern practices are like pitfalls that trap users into signing up or buying something accidentally by using the user’s propensity to skim contain against him. One commonly used dark pattern technique is making certain phrases bold and deemphasizing others to make the meaning easily misunderstood, especially by skimmers or fast readers. Improving conversion rates by tricking people is an unacceptable practice. Here are the UI design dark patterns you should definitely avoid.

Confirm Shaming

Confirm Shaming is one of the most commonly used dark patterns today. It involves the use of a lightbox to hide the webpage’s content and the user needs to input his email and other details to make the lightbox disappear and the content viewable. The lightbox comes with a sentence that is designed to make people who opt to leave than fill the lightbox feel ashamed.

Roach Motels

The roach motel dark pattern uses appealing content to bait visitors into subscribing jut to trap them into the subscription by making it extremely difficult to unsubscribe. Trick questions, hard to find tick boxes, and a questionnaire that has to be filled up are just some of the ways to make cancelling subscription difficult. Some websites even go as far as to require contacting customer service to unsubscribe.


Clickbait is one of the oldest dark patterns yet it remains to be quite effective even today. It is both the most pervasive and most hated. It involves overhyping the title or image that contains the link to the webpage with the intent of getting a user’s attention and compelling him to click, only to find out that the actual content is less dramatic and might even be completely irrelevant.

Deceptive Content

Deceptive Content is a technique in which the primary purpose of the content and other webpage elements is to trick and manipulate the user into taking certain actions such as subscribing or placing an order. Examples are asking a question and highlighting the option opposite to what a user would normally take.

Dark patterns will not only ruin the reputation of your website, they are also likely to get you in trouble with Google and other major search engines. Google is constantly developing newer and better ways to identify and penalize websites that use black patterns in their UI design.


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