Dark patterns are user interface and technology designs that trick or manipulate people into taking undesired actions. Their presence on various platforms can often have dire consequences, making it incredibly important to discourage their use.

These tactics can cause frustration, confusion, and embarrassment – while also ruining experiences for digital users and removing the trust people exert towards institutions or services online. Additionally, dark patterns raise serious ethical concerns that should be addressed promptly before further widespread negative effects become unavoidable.

Understand the Impact

Understand the Impact


Negative consequences of dark patterns on users

Dark patterns take advantage of users' lack of understanding. As such, they present plenty of negative consequences for the unsuspecting user.

By creating confusing language or distractions to manipulate users into completing actions contrary to their intentions, dark patterns lead to a heightened sense of distrust between companies and their consumers.

They can also create a feeling of effort wasted on attempting tasks that confuse multitasking interruptions—as the user won't receive any reward for giving up information, taking surveys, or moving past tricky obstacles.

Ethical concerns associated with their implementation

Dark patterns exploit psychologically vulnerable individuals and put users at a disadvantage, making it critical for us to understand their unethical nature and the consequences they have.

From bombarding with intimidating interfaces on websites to scare tactics used in apps, these manipulative techniques can mislead and disorient a user into unknowingly handing over needed data or opting out of messages that lost significant meaning due to deceptive designs.

Such violations go against digital ethics norms, risk long-term repercussions for companies due to loss of customer trust and loyalty, as well as breach users’ rights.

Educate Others

Educate Others


Examples of dark patterns in various contexts

In order to effectively educate others about dark patterns, it is important to provide real-life examples. Dark patterns can appear in various contexts such as websites, apps, advertisements and storefronts.

Examples include aggressively displaying nudges or pop-ups stressing urgency while entering personal data; auto-renewal of subscription services without the customer’s knowledge; services that charge users only after exposing their confidential data and so forth.

It is through understanding these examples that users are made aware of the potential prevalence of dark patterns in daily life today.

How dark patterns exploit human psychology

Dark patterns exploit human psychology to manipulate users into taking unfavorable actions in a variety of digital storytelling.

Companies often utilize quickly implemented design features or subtle copy that manipulates user perception and decision-making.

For example, pre-filled checkboxes used during checkout stages can encourage people to purchase quickly additional services they may not need or want, while open loops created with overpromises leave users dissatisfied upon completion of a task.

Share real-life stories of users negatively affected by dark patterns

Ordering online should always involve a transparent and honest user experience. One way to discourage the use of dark patterns is to share real-life stories of users negatively affected by them.

Through tales from people all over the world on how they were misled or manipulated into taking action, it becomes clear how duplicitous and unethical these free tools can be.

Such concrete examples demonstrate the deep impact that dark patterns have on relatively vulnerable consumers — making their removal a moral imperative. Selfishly manipulating customers undermines companies’ relationships with their user base while leading to poor ratings, customer loss, and mistrust in business overall.

Emphasize Transparency and Trust

Transparency and trust are essential to building a productive relationship between businesses and users. Users need assurance that their actions, data, and information stay secure and private.

Businesses should promote the benefits of transparent practices in user experiences: for example, opportunities to opt-out of certain services or clearly defined consequences when canceling subscriptions will help both parties develop an authentic connection.

Open dialogue between business decision-makers, developers, marketers, designers—and most importantly users—will ensure that products serve everyone accurately while maintaining optimally positive customer experiences without any hidden setups or scheming characteristics.

Advocate for User-Centered Design

Prioritizing user needs should be a top priority to discourage the use of dark patterns. To create meaningful and valuable digital experiences, design choices should ultimately focus on users and their individual needs.

User-centred design methods are designed from this exact perspective, providing relevant features without creating frustration or confusion.

Through emphasizing the importance of reliable UX processes from early stages of development (such as concept design, and prototyping), designers can ensure desired outcomes align with those of the user rather than simply what the organization intended. Ultimately striving for solutions benefits everyone in the long run.

Promote Ethical Guidelines and Regulations

We have an obligation to ensure users can trust digital products and services, and this will require technological organizations to develop better guidance and methods for communication.

Especially as online deception is only increasing, we need regulatory bodies and laws to protect users from falling victim to these manipulative tactics. With diligence, regulations, and accountability—in addition to transparent design principles —the fight against dark patterns may be won.

Support regulatory efforts to curb deceptive practices

Regulation is a powerful tool for discouraging dark pattern usage. Working with government bodies, consumer protection groups, and other stakeholders can help amplify the message against deceptive practices and empower users to peacefully demand that outdated manipulative tactics are removed from companies' business models.

Additionally, industry-wide ethical guidelines can be developed and enforced as part of new regulations in order to ensure such unethical practices never find their way back into use. Through their collective efforts change-makers all over the world can make great progress toward curbing dark patterns and raising awareness about deception prevention going forward.

Lead by Example

Lead by Example


Implement user-friendly designs and ethical practices

An effective way of persuading others to discourage the use of dark patterns is by leading by example.

Organizations must practice what they preach and put user-friendly designs and ethical practices at the forefront of their work.

This means avoiding manipulative tactics or deceptive design when building products—instead favoring honesty, transparency, and accountability for users’ trust.

This also applies to company policies regarding data collection, privacy settings, tracking informing practices, etc. Showing this commitment places organizations’ goals into greater alignment with that of the consumer creating a fairer marketplace in which users feel secure in making decisions about which companies they choose to engage with.

Share success stories of businesses that have abandoned dark patterns

Sharing success stories of businesses that have abandoned dark patterns is a powerful way to encourage meaningful and sustainable changes in user practices.

These stories serve as examples for organizations who want to better understand the implications of their choices when designing user experiences, and how these always support or prove detrimental to users.

Moreover, it allows us an insight into real-life cases which have proven the competitive value of ethical design principles—specifically when a business has decided to trust its customers instead of deceiving them through manipulative tactics.

Encourage Feedback and Reporting

Empower users to report instances of dark patterns

As more businesses become aware of dark patterns and the potential harm they can cause to users, organizations must take steps to legally bind businesses from using manipulative tactics.

One way their efforts can be significantly supported is by encouraging user feedback and reporting on instances of dark patterns.

By empowering users to report any instance of a dubious feature or tool, organizations can use this data to track and investigate reports more effectively in their alliances with mutually capable interests.

Additionally, having an open channel such as this will also increase consumers’ trust that their voicing complaints are safely relayed somewhere them making them aware too that someone hears and cares for fixes/explanations whenever they come about encountering suspicious practices.

Encourage organizations to take action on reported cases

It is important for organizations to take action on reported cases of dark patterns in order to discourage their usage and promote trustworthy user experiences. For this, companies need to create means that incentivize user feedback and allow them to conveniently report instances of dark patterns.

Companies should also provide clear instructions or guidelines on how such reporting mechanisms should operate so users have access to enough information regarding the consequences that their respective reports can lead to and engage proactively.

More importantly, any changes implemented by organizations as a result of these reported cases must be adequately communicated with the same people who originally alerted those issues so they do not feel that their efforts were in vain.


We can all take a stand and fight dark patterns together. Knocking down one door will open up an opportunity to close down many more.

Education, transparency, oversight, and user-centered design are essential in discouraging the use of mistaken or malicious interactions – dark patterns – aimed at manipulating users into making decisions they may not have otherwise made with full information or understanding.

We need to recognize long-term success signifies honest practices that support user choice over vile attempts from reducing trust between customers and businesses alike.

Let's create a future where our digital identities are safe from exploitation by dismantling dark pattern implementations—allowing us to make only those decisions true to ourselves no matter how cunning an attempt to deceive may come!

Ryan Nead
VP of Business Development

Ryan is the VP of marketing at and Website.Design. He is focused on growth initiatives in providing the best custom software development and website design/UX experiences for clients worldwide.

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